There are few accounting departments where Microsoft Excel is not on every desktop. Excel solves many problems, but it also creates more than a few. Here are some of the more common challenges: • Low value work • Confusion • Poor documentation • Undetected errors • Questionable quality • Motivation barriers
By adopting a different approach to the use of Excel you can win significant advantages. These advantages accrue to finance managers, accounting staff, and the end users they serve. Outlined below are some of the specific advantages to be gained by automating Excel spreadsheets.
Managers Automation frees up staff time. It is common for accounting managers to face a backlog of new reports and processes yet to be implemented. When automation makes staff more available then working through the backlog becomes easier. Resolving the backlog and avoiding the need to expand the accounting department can be a big win.
Working with Excel can be dangerous. Excel lacks built-in guardrails. Many Excel templates contain embedded errors where period after period the same mistakes are repeated. These errors can be tiny or huge. Numerous third-party studies have highlighted incidents where significant losses can be traced back to a spreadsheet error. Through the exercise of automating complex Excel processes these embedded errors can be discovered and eliminated.
Staff members who create and maintain complex Excel processes create an organizational vulnerability. Most often their work is not well documented. This hidden weakness becomes visible when accounting staff change roles or leave. A successful transition requires that the departing person have the time and ability to train their successor. When the departure is swift there may be no time for a proper transition. Only then does the issue become visible as the new staffer struggles to make sense of the spreadsheet jungle that comes with their new role.
Accounting staff Time consuming and tedious tasks are never motivating. Yet staff can be silent about the work that they find boring or annoying. Moreover, when these tasks are endlessly repeated staff members may find themselves transitioning into a robotic trance where they are at risk of missing significant issues and errors. At the same time some managers fall into the trap of underestimating the intelligence and capabilities of their staff. Contrary to supervisor expectations, learning new skills like automating Excel processes, may be fully within their grasp. The excitement and satisfaction of learning new skills is often highly motivating. This can be a critical factor for keeping talented staff motivated and reducing their desire to move on.
End Users Within most organizations many end users rely on timely, accurate and relevant reports from the accounting team. But when they need information, they need it NOW. They become frustrated easily when reports are late or contain errors. Automation provides an avenue for taking control of a difficult situation. It also creates a path to leadership, creating the necessary conditions for shifting from reactive to the proactive management of financial data. The Challenge of Change All change is hard. Accounting departments face continuous pressure to stay focussed, meet strict deadlines and satisfy their end users. Finding the time and resources to engineer the changes needed to reap the benefits of automation requires a solid business case and a determination to work through the obstacles.
Yet the real benefits of making the necessary investment can be summarized as:
• Increased productivity and cost savings • More accurate and timely financial reporting • Reduced risks from employee turnover • Improved staff skills and higher motivation
Should we do this? If this is an opportunity that you recognize then we at Analytix Studio are ready to help you assess the business case for automating your Excel processes.
We will work with you to identify the highest value use cases. We will guide you through the development of a high value use case that clearly demonstrates the value of automation. We will arrange for you to trial our automation software at no cost or obligation. We will assist with your business case preparation and support your presentation to senior management. When you decide to implement we will train your team and guide them so they can come up to full speed quickly.
Want to know more? Click the button below to find a time where we can understand your needs, answer your questions and start you on the path to winning the benefits of automation.
Since Analytix Studio started in 2016 Alteryx has been one of our go-to tools. It can do so many things both quickly and elegantly. And the learning curve is easy, even if you are not a data scientist. And if you are a data scientist Alteryx can make you much more productive.
Ken Black works for a Fortune 500 company and has been using Alteryx for many years. On his blog he gives an excellent explanation of the numerous advantages of using Alteryx to solve a wide variety of data intensive business problems. This is definitely worth reading.