5 Reasons Why Excel Isn't Enough For Financial Reporting

January 21 2015

Conduct a simple Google or Bing search on "Excel Financial Reporting" and you'll find that it returns over 5 million results. People have clearly given it a lot of thought out there. The results include templates, add-ins and even copies of real financial reports that are meant to be modified and reused. There's certainly a lot of noise out in the digital jungle, but is Excel really the best tool for financial reporting and analysis? I think we'd be utterly remiss if we didn't consider the other options on the market.

About Dan Edwards

Dan is a CPA with over 25 years of experience in the ERP industry. During this time, he has worked in many different roles allowing him to truly understand the complete industry. The combined experience of marketing, sales, presales, consulting and training allows him to provide a truly unique perspective to prospects and customers.

He is a frequent speaker and presenter at Microsoft and other related industry conferences and events including Microsoft Convergence, AXUG Summit, Microsoft Technical Conference and Power BI World Tour.

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james@vividreports.com's picture

This is a good article with many valid points. We develop an Excel based financial reporting and planning software called Vivid Reports. When we first started to build this product back in 2006 a key objective was to overcome the problems and pitfalls mentioned in this article. Namely, to allow anyone to use all the powerful and wonderful "Swiss Army knife" features of Excel that people love but to do it in a reliable, efficient, and non-technical way. Vivid Reports is SOX compliant and it makes it extremely easy to verify the reports and information. Definitions are stored and maintained centrally on the server for example. I had a customer ask me last week if we could recommend a good Excel course for his staff to use for professional development credits. I couldn't think of any and after I wondered why. The reason is that we make Excel so easy to use for financial reporting all the complex stuff such as vlookups and sumifs all go away! Here is an article I wrote that highlights some other problems with Excel based tools that rely on formula - which we do *not*. http://www.vividreports.com/be-wary-of-the-formula/ Vivid Reports is superior technology that lets users use Excel with complete confidence. We also have scheduling and distribution. James Briscoe

cpudoc's picture

Dan, I have been preaching this as long as I have been working with financial systems. I'm glad to see someone else still feels this way since I was beginning to think I was on my own. Excel is an indispensable analysis tool, but has no place in the generation of official financial reports. Butch Adams Conexus SG Dallas, Tx.

Michael Bohanon's picture

Of course those who are against Excel are selling other BI tools. People should be aware that Excel can pull directly from ERP systems and the data can be protected from change. As with those other BI tools the data can be saved off to other sheets and used for modeling by putting in your own formulas, etc. Lets be honest as a selling point most BI tools say their data can be easily exported to Excel. The bottom line is Excel can still be used. There is a learning curve to be able to do this and protect data. There is a learning curve to learning a new BI tool. I think people should look at both, decide which they like and go that way.