What if You Couldn’t Access Your Spreadsheets?
Spreadsheets are everywhere. From simple company directories to complex forecasting and budgetary models, organizations across a wide variety of industries depend on Excel to complete critical business functions every single day. Some of these spreadsheets may reside on shared drives, and many more are created and continued to live in silos on individual computers. So, what would happen if you could no longer access any of your spreadsheets?
Why is Excel so ubiquitous?
Excel debuted in the mid-1980s and while some may consider it outdated, in many industries it’s not just surviving, it’s thriving. Finance professionals in particular view Excel not just as a spreadsheet, “but as a powerful business management tool that allows the user to perform complex complications in minutes and then present the results in many ways, according to Adam Ng, CEO of Trusted Malaysia.
Excel is well known for its flexibility and customization without needing IT support. And that has created a cycle of comfort and familiarity. Nearly everyone, even those outside of IT and finance, is familiar with Excel to some extent, so it’s easy to share files and results across teams and companies without training. “Because of its flexibility, Excel can be the glue that binds imperfect systems and processes together,” says Thomas McIlheran, VP of Finance for Chargify.
Business critical processes rely on Excel
In many industries, the most critical processes rely on Excel. For example:
- In banking, spreadsheets are often the primary tool for financial planning and analysis, financial modeling, reporting, and risk management
- In insurance, spreadsheets are used for complex actuarial models, pricing models, and risk management
- In healthcare, spreadsheets can be used to manage patient data, forecast population health trends, analyze clinical research, generate financial reports and budgets, schedule staff, and manage quality improvement initiatives
- In manufacturing, spreadsheets are used for inventory management, production scheduling, quality control, cost analysis, and sales and marketing analysis
- In government, spreadsheets are used for budgeting, financial management, project management, policy development, and public records management
These are mission-critical functions, and the list goes on in other industries. So, would all of these critical functions cease if teams could no longer access and use these spreadsheets?
Excel’s limitations put businesses at risk
When the pandemic quickly forced a shift to remote work, many executives, especially those in finance, saw a glimpse of what happens when spreadsheet access is disrupted. When employees are dispersed in remote locations, it becomes more challenging to find a critical business process that may reside in a spreadsheet on one employee’s individual laptop. Errors in Excel became exposed as single users are creating complicated formulas in silos that aren’t properly reviewed by colleagues and managers. “The pandemic really exposed the vulnerability that finance teams have as a result of their dependence on Excel”, Glenn Hafler a principal at the Hackett Group said.
If dispersed work exacerbated the imperfections of Excel, the impact on those critical business functions if access to Excel was more substantially disrupted, would be far worse.
How to overcome Excel’s constraints
While the limitations of Excel have been well-documented, change is difficult when Excel is so ingrained into the daily work habits of millions of professionals. “The biggest hurdle in moving away from Excel is friction from employees not wanting to change,” says Robert Bendetti, founder of the Global CFO Council, Bendetti said. “Everyone loves Excel, and many accountants pride themselves on being Excel power users.”
The good news is you can gain the control, visibility, and trackability that Excel is lacking without abandoning Excel. Coherent Spark converts unmanaged spreadsheets into cloud-based workflows in seconds. Disconnected, complex spreadsheets suddenly become cloud-connected code (without any coding expertise).
With Spark, employees can still create spreadsheets in Excel. Then, Coherent Spark enables easy cloud-based integration to keep your data safe and centralize your critical business processes. Version control – check. Audit trail – check. Simulate thousands of scenarios and run scalable models in minutes – check.
Ready to control your spreadsheets?
Do you know what would happen to your business-critical processes if you could no longer access Excel-based spreadsheets? These processes would probably would be at risk of failing, putting your entire business at risk. So, before your spreadsheet access is hypothetically disrupted, you need a plan to eliminate siloed processes in spreadsheets without the painful process of actually eliminating Excel. To learn more about how Coherent Spark does exactly that, visit us at coherent.global or explore our free sandbox to turn your spreadsheet models into enterprise-wide code in seconds.
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