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There is no denying that FP&A teams strongly rely on Excel and are comfortable operating in this environment for their planning and reporting processes. In fact, according to Gartner, for a large majority of organisations Excel continues to be at the core of their planning process. 

Yet with much of the industry looking to digitise, will Excel still hold a seat at the table when it comes to planning and reporting in the future? 

Excel still dominates in finance teams for several reasons, it is a familiar environment, it allows analysts to edit data, create models and reports, and in most cases, Excel has been part of the business for decades. With many organisations heavily invested in Excel and with the majority of FP&A professional’s being proficient in the tool, many people would ask – Why change? 

As a business matures, and begins gathering more data than ever before, Excel’s capacity and scalability limitations become more apparent, particularly at an Enterprise and strategic level. Excel spreadsheets impede the level of collaboration that is required by big business, resulting in data and planning siloes, as well as issues of version control, and no audit trail. 

The finance team of the future need to minimise risk, and the potential for human error, plus, if the last 12 months have taught us anything, it is that budgets, plans, and forecasts require greater agility and flexibility.

If you are thinking about the role Excel will play in the future of your team, ask yourself these two questions: 

  1. How much time is spent on collecting and inputting data into Excel for your month end?  
  2. How much time do you spend each month on validating that information?  

If you answered any more than two-days you need to start considering the opportunity-loss your company is experiencing, not only on a weekly basis, but a compounding monthly and yearly basis. Time is your most valuable asset, particularly when it comes to innovation. 

So, what does the finance team of the future really need? If we could sum it up in one line:

A FP&A solution that delivers a high level of accuracy in planning and reporting, with speed and flexibility, along with the ability to scale.

At Minerva, we believe that in the mid-to-long term Excel will continue to provide a critical function to businesses. However, we work with some of the most advanced and mature finance teams, and know that those performing best, have struck a balance between Excel and advanced web applications. This type of environment allows for all of Excel’s benefits to be realised, whilst overcoming its limitations. This “nirvana” exists where Excel and an advanced Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) tool work seamlessly together. 

A leading-edge EPM, such as Jedox, allows FP&A teams to utilise familiar interfaces and leverage existing knowledge and skillset through its powerful native Excel integration tool. This gives the user the ability to transform limited, manual Excel spreadsheets into robust, flexible, and secure reports. Finance teams love the solution because they get the advantages of Excel while mitigating the risk and limitation of data management, secure user access and collaboration. At an enterprise-level, executives benefit from gaining access to historical comparisons, and variance analysis, all the while examining and testing these large queries in a fast and stable environment. 

As we mentioned above, an important piece of the puzzle is finding a solution that can scale with your finance team as they develop and mature. A solution such as Jedox is future-proofed, in that it also offers AI-augmented insight and foresight. Your team may not be at this stage yet, however, it is important to consider that AI is already being used by next generation finance team to predict business outcomes, optimise for best business results as well as assist with agility in fast-changing markets.

If you are finding it difficult to get started or are concerned about where Excel fits in the future of your business, why not contact us at Minerva Partners?

We are a Management Consultancy that is laser focussed on business transformation, and we assist CFOs and business transformation specialists every day to improve their data management, budgeting, forecasting, and planning, allowing them more time to focus on business growth and strategy.

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