Excel is awesome. There, I said it!
Let the record show that I use Excel, and I have for as long as Excel has been Excel. In fact, I may have one of the oldest spreadsheets in existence. In the early ’80s, I started keeping my running log on VisiCalc, then migrated it to Lotus 1-2-3 and ultimately to Excel.
I understand the loyalty people have for Excel. And so the firestorm that erupted on The Wall Street Journal website comes as no surprise whatsoever.
A little back story: On Nov. 22, The Wall Street Journal ran an article that spotlights why so many organizations are reaching for something more than single-user spreadsheets for financial planning, budgeting, and analytics. The article does a great job explaining some well-known shortcomings of Excel for these purposes—that it’s prone to errors (some of which come at huge cost), that spreadsheets are hard to keep current, that it’s poorly suited for collaboration with other stakeholders, that using Excel can be time-consuming and sometimes nerve-wracking. The article even mentions an Adaptive Insights customer whose decision to eschew Excel for our cloud-based solutions has transformed its business. That day, #StopUsingExcel was trending on Twitter, and online comments multiplied.
Five days later, Nina Trentmann alerted readers to the topic in the Morning Ledger blog of CFO Journal, The Wall Street Journal’s section for finance executives. The comments and tweets continued, as passionate Excel users weighed in.
Then last week, The Wall Street Journal ran a follow-up piece chronicling the reactions it has received to the original Nov. 22 piece. Some Excel users say they can’t conceive of ever using anything else, and they are adamant about this (there’s even talk of prying Excel from their “cold, dead hands”). Others insist the demise of Excel is long overdue. Impassioned posts, tweets, and comments are flying back and forth.
Why did The Wall Street Journal article touch such a nerve? I think I know. For one thing, use of Excel is embedded in many organizations, as natural as breathing. Despite some shortcomings, Excel is all many finance professionals know, and there’s no denying it’s a great personal productivity tool.
But there’s another dynamic at play here. Many users remain devoted to Excel because, consciously or not, they associate it with their own professional success. They’ve ridden that horse all their professional lives, and the thought of giving it up is inconceivable.
Not an either/or decision
We have an answer to those finance professionals: Don’t.
Don’t give Excel up, because you don’t have to. Modernizing and automating your FP&A processes doesn’t have to mean abandoning Excel for the things it does well. You can keep Excel but adopt a collaborative planning solution to do all those things that Excel isn’t suited to do.
We view the choice to keep Excel not as an “either/or” decision, but as a “yes, and” decision. Yes, keep Excel. And transform your FP&A processes with a modern FP&A platform. Thousands of our customers will tell you the two can happily exist side by side.
I won’t be giving up Excel, and you shouldn’t have to either.