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The War Against Spreadsheets

by Mark Polino
Director of Client Services, Fastpath, Integrated Business Group

In case you haven't been paying attention for the last several years, there is an ongoing low level war against spreadsheets, specifically Microsoft Excel. No, this war isn't with competing spreadsheet products like Google Docs - it is with all kinds of budget applications and analysis products trying to chip away at the edges of Excel's dominance. 

Typically the voice of opposition is from vendors trying to convince companies to move beyond Excel for these budget and analysis functions. They often cite egregious examples of spreadsheet errors, statistics on wrong formulas and horror stories of decimals places gone wrong. Almost all of them tout their "Excel-like" interface and ease of use.  "Excel-like" usually means "We have rows and columns", but Excel is so much more than that, and its flexibility, depth of features, and support by Microsoft keeps it essential in spite of its shortcomings.

I'm not picking on any of these firms in particular. I've used a number of "Excel-like" products in my career but always come back to Excel. Frankly, you can have my copy of Excel when you dig up my casket after I'm good and decayed. It will be there next to the Diet Mountain Dew. Don't bother trying to pry it from my cold dead fingers before then because you won't be able to. 

The reality is that if electronic spreadsheets disappeared from the earth tomorrow we really would have financial chaos. Companies would miss filing deadlines. They would be unable to create financial statements and their auditors would surely go insane. Despite all of its shortcomings, the flexibility and power of Excel still make it the glue that holds finance and accounting departments together.

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About Mark Polino

Mark Polino is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and a former Microsoft MVP (2007-2018) for Business Solutions. He is the author or coauthor of 5 books related to Microsoft Dynamics GP.  Mark also maintains the Dynamics GP focused website He speaks and writes regularly about ERP related topics. Mark has been a controller and CFO for a division of a publicly traded company and he has  worked as a consultant implementing ERP solutions. Mark holds additional certifications including Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP), Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF) , Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA). Dynamics Credentialed Professional for Dynamics GP 2015 (Core Install and Core Financials), Xero Certified. He holds a bachelor's degree in accounting from the University of Central Florida and an MBA from Rollins College. Mark lives with his family in Florida.

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