8 Budgeting pains with Excel and 11 benefits when its fixed

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Excel: IT hates it!  Finance loves it!

Most large organisations use Excel for budgeting and forecasting.  In our experience it is a huge and expensive problem.

Finance sends spreadsheets to people to collect their budgets and forecast.  Initially, this makes loads of sense because Excel is the finance team's tool of choice.  They know it and it's quick and easy to create an input template then email it to people.  As the templates grow into business models, they change from just the P&L to salary or payroll budgeting, sales, manufacturing, CAPEX, currency conversion ...… the list goes on!

In our experience, after a very short time these spreadsheets and workbooks get feral.

They are hard to control, they become incredibly time consuming to maintain and almost impossible to use for forecasting. Suddenly it's difficult to do business.

Here's some of the typical issues that I see every day:

  1. Linking spreadsheets and workbooks is hell. Links are  easy to break and time consuming to fix.
  2. Macros are great for causing serious errors, destroying hard work.
  3. Hundreds of workbooks -- it's not uncommon.  When you get to this position it's really hard to manage. They are a great cause of missing deadlines.
  4. Difficult to deploy input templates because email is your only option.  Does everyone send their work book back to you in the timeline you've given them?
  5. People don't like your spreadsheet so they change it before sending it back.  Aaargh.
  6. Data collection is bottom up, not top down like it should be.
  7. Very hard to lock down – you can idiot proof your spreadsheet .. but then a better idiot comes along.
  8. Poor security – search for crack Excel password and off you go!

So who has removed themselves from this Excel Hell? Below is one case study - and the two videos below demonstrate the Before and After.

image BEFORE: Rachel Waters from Mantra talks about the budget and forecast process she used to endure using a heavy spreadsheet reliant process that she inherited when she started at Mantra.

So what's the solution?  Remove spreadsheets but keep Excel; and automate the  budget process.

Excel is a fantastic tool for creating reports and input templates. It's the number one BI tool in the world. The problem is, it's a spreadsheet tool, not a database.

At CALUMO, we call some spreadsheets we see "Spread Marts".

Now imagine if you could remove the issues I described above. You will get these benefits:

  1. Reduce your budget process to one month or less
  2. Introduce Top Down budgeting and forecasting
  3. Centralise the administration of calculations, security and the interface
  4. Easily report and analyse the budgeting and forecast data compared to Actual
  5. Create collaborative input and real-time consolidation – no waiting for spreadsheets from people on holidays
  6. Enable rolling forecasts – you will remove your budget process when you do this!
  7. Focus the organisation on the future with facts, not just gut feel.
  8. Standardised input templates (IE or Mobile) still using Excel or web pages.
  9. Fast turnaround post review cycle resulting in a shorter overall budget process
  10. It will be fun, well satisfying at least.
  11. The budget administrator can take a holiday during the budget process. That's what my clients do!

With CALUMO, you can take away the problems of Excel yet you retain the power of Excel.  You can also web deploy your input templates in less than 30 seconds.

AFTER: Rachel talks about the benefits of adding CALUMO here:

 

If you want to make your life easier and help your organisation focus on the future, email me: wleitch@calumo.com

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