Finance Chiefs Are Continue to Hoping to Switch Excel With New Equipment

Finance chiefs are continue to seeking to get staff to transfer away from Microsoft Excel, the ubiquitous spreadsheet method liked and loathed by accounting industry experts.

Even though several even now see it as a handy tool, some CFOs say finance groups count on it far too significantly, often for duties that Excel isn’t properly-suited to deal with. That can lead to mistakes and wasted time.

Microsoft Corp.

moved Excel and its other Workplace products to the cloud a ten years ago and has offered a quantity of new characteristics and updates given that. But some finance chiefs still want to lower their reliance on the application in favor of plans that more competently automate data assortment and investigation. They say there are limitations to Excel’s usefulness, with users obtaining a difficult time retaining observe of alterations and verifying economic data.

Very last year’s abrupt change to distant do the job through the pandemic, which pressured finance chiefs to control corporate funds and near the guides remotely, highlighted shortfalls in making use of Excel, claimed Glenn Hafler, a principal at advisory agency

Hackett Team Inc.

“The pandemic really uncovered the vulnerability that finance teams have as a end result of their dependence on Excel,” Mr. Hafler mentioned.

Levi Strauss CFO Harmit Singh.


Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg News

Inputting facts manually, which is what several end users nevertheless do, can be time-consuming and result in faults that go unnoticed, specifically when staff members are scattered in remote work spots.

Pure Cycle Corp.

, a drinking water- and land-administration enterprise primarily based in Watkins, Colo., earlier this thirty day period disclosed it experienced corrected an accounting error that originated in an Excel sheet.

The error was a end result of challenging formulas used to allocate fees and a deficiency of specific overview by the company’s management, reported

Kevin McNeill,

Pure Cycle’s main economic officer.

“Excel is an exceptionally valuable instrument, but I believe most corporations, like us, put far too a lot reliance into it,” he claimed.

Pure Cycle, which described about $500,000 a lot more in quarterly curiosity money than it really should have, is introducing far more controls all around its reporting procedures and moving as several duties as attainable into its accounting software to keep away from overusing Excel, Mr. McNeill explained. The firm booked $2.6 million in revenue all through the quarter finished Could 31, up from $1.8 million through the prior-yr interval.

‘Excel is an incredibly worthwhile software, but I imagine most providers, like us, set way too much reliance into it.’

— Pure Cycle Main Monetary Officer Kevin McNeill

The widespread use of Microsoft’s Home windows operating process and Business suite of solutions in the 1990s assisted establish Excel as a industry leader in spreadsheets. Finance workforce grew common with the program and cultivated their very own methods of operating in it above the decades. It’s a practice lots of have discovered really hard to break, even as new organization program and other spreadsheet choices, this sort of as Google Sheets, have grow to be readily available.

It is not just smaller companies like Pure Cycle that depend on Excel. More substantial companies, for instance denims maker

Levi Strauss

& Co., which generated $4.5 billion in profits last yr, also use it.

Levi’s operates its supply organizing on Excel, which handles raw supplies, interactions with suppliers and capability scheduling, according to

Harmit Singh,

the company’s finance main. But that is established to transform, as the business is performing to introduce a new artificial intelligence tool to tackle all those duties. The transition will materialize over the upcoming two years and the to start with duties will move off Excel in early 2022, in accordance to the firm. “The pandemic reinforced the business scenario for the transform,” the enterprise stated.

Microsoft mentioned it is updating Excel—which moved to the cloud in 2011 as element of Business 365 and is now one of the programs in the company’s Microsoft 365 offerings—every month and pointed to new capabilities, such as a person that tracks modifications for every spreadsheet cell that introduced this spring. One more new purpose makes it possible for people to produce a method and share it with others within just a workbook, a collection of one or a lot more spreadsheets.

An Excel spreadsheet.



“Excel is a perfectly-loved products across all of our customers,” reported Brian Jones, head of item for Excel, incorporating that it can be applied on any platform or unit.

Microsoft declined to deliver a recent determine for the variety of corporations that use Excel but pointed to 258 million compensated users of its Microsoft 365 business suite of business office solutions at the conclude of the very first quarter of 2020. Monthly utilization of Microsoft Excel is up just about 30% 12 months around year, according to a spokesman.

Individuals modifications, on the other hand, really do not just take absent CFOs’ want to come to be a lot less dependent on Excel. “That might assist to some extent, but acquiring complex schedules into our accounting software is still a greater answer,” Pure Cycle’s Mr. McNeill explained. Levi’s mentioned current updates to Excel haven’t modified the have to have for a lot more refined resources.

Businesses searching to substitute Excel—at the very least partly—have a assortment of choices, dependent on the undertaking at hand.


OneStream Software package LLC,

Oracle Corp.


Anaplan Inc.


Workiva Inc.

are amongst the corporations offering cloud-based mostly details technological innovation for different elements of the finance purpose.

Workiva CFO Jill Klindt.



San Francisco-dependent Anaplan earlier this 12 months employed Victor Barnes, a former divisional CFO at

Coca-Cola Co.

, to market its solution to organization consumers. Through his time at Coca-Cola, Mr. Barnes had his crew swap from Excel to Anaplan for extended-time period setting up processes, which reduced the total of time necessary to consolidate the info by far more than 70%, to two weeks, he said. Anaplan claimed its revenue has developed in latest quarters as it signed up additional customers.

Workiva supplies a program-as-a-assistance system for economic and nonfinancial reporting and compliance, but even so, CFO

Jill Klindt

states some on her group use Excel, anything she is hoping to limit.

The company’s finance perform in February moved to a new arranging and evaluation instrument and is automating duties this kind of as approval of expense reports. “We continue to place in put programs that cut down the reliance on Excel,” she reported, including that Microsoft’s updates to Excel really don’t improve that.

Workiva also has professional an uptick in buyer demand from customers considering that the pandemic, Ms. Klindt explained.

Consultants say it is not only the IT that requires to modify, but also the way folks organize finance tasks. Or else, corporations operate the chance of expending dollars on new methods whilst workforce proceed operating in Excel and only duplicate and paste the knowledge in the conclusion, claimed Vanessa Keating, who qualified prospects Hackett’s electronic finance advisory observe.

“This is what they know and what they are comfortable with,” she said of Excel. Finance chiefs need to reorganize workflows and procedures to make sure that the transition absent from Excel succeeds.

Nevertheless, irrespective of companies’ efforts, executives and advisers explained they are not sure no matter whether Excel will ever actually vanish.

“It is deep in people’s minds,” explained Workiva’s Ms. Klindt. “I am not the variety of person who would ban it.”

Compose to Nina Trentmann at [email protected]

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