accounting - financial planning

They say that the program is uncomfortable and unreliable.

Reasons

Financial directors of several companies, including Adobe, P. F. Chang’s China Bistro and ABM Industries, recommend employees to refuse to use Excel.

So, Adobe’s Chief Financial Officer Mark Garrett says his team faces difficulties in tracking closed vacancies in the company. Personnel needs to take data from disparate systems, which contain information about finances and employees. Thus, the company tracks which units hire people, and how salaries affect the budget. Garrett says that this process can take several days.

«I do not want people who are in financial planning to spend time importing, exporting data and processing it. I want them to focus on what this information can say», says Adobe CFO. Garrett says that now he wants to minimize the use of Excel in his work.

Financial directors of companies P. F. Chang’s China Bistro, ABM Industries, and Wintrust Financial Corp also try to reduce the impact of Excel on the work of their teams. Top managers, who are in finance field, say that the popular program, which changed the process of accounting in the 80’s, could not be transformed to modern needs. Excel generates errors because the program is not synchronized with other tools and cannot be automatically updated.

Older versions of Excel do not allow multiple users to work simultaneously on the same document. There is also a limit to how much data you can place in a single document, which can slow the analysis. «Excel simply was not designed for the tasks that companies are now solving in finance», said Paul Hammerman, an analyst with business tools at Forrester Research.

Alternatives

More and more companies are moving to new cloud solutions from Anaplan, Workiva, Adaptive Insights and their competitors. This new software is synchronized with existing accounting systems of companies, including with programs from Oracle or SAP SE. Moreover, this allows accountants to collect and analyze data on one single platform.

At the beginning of last year, Adobe switched to Anaplan. Moreover, many of the tasks that previously you performed in spreadsheets. However, now you can address them in this system, says Mark Garrett.

Financial director, P. F. Chang’s China Bistro Jim Bell, transferred the company’s account with Excel to Adaptive Insights. This helped the company to improve the level of interaction and reduce the number of administrative tasks. A year ago, Bella’s team sent out hundreds of Excel spreadsheets to regional offices for hours and hours every hour for planning and tracking performance. Now the same process takes minutes.

Wintrust Financial, which manages 15 banks in Illinois and Wisconsin, rejected Excel in favor of Workiva due to a high percentage of errors. «The director could ask: how many loans we repaid, and how much refinancing we carried out in the last quarter. And different teams gave different answers», said senior vice president of the company Anita Chakravarti. She notes that Workiva has automatic updates. After all, it allows you to reduce the number of errors and see who made the changes.

Kayla Davis, who manages financial planning at ABM Industries, used Excel to take data from various accounting systems accumulated over decades of mergers and acquisitions. After switching to Anaplan, her team can provide financial information faster. The data does not require a serious check, Davis says.