Scratch below the surface of any organisation, big or small, and you’ll find a plethora of spreadsheets. Anything from expenses claims to buying forecasts to financial reporting analysis is performed using the humble spreadsheet.
According to research conducted by Oracle in association with Financial Director in 2010, 60 percent of Financial Directors surveyed said they used Excel spreadsheets to perform financial reporting analysis. This is compared with only 26.6 percent who used a dedicated business management and performance tool.
So, when IT departments implement enterprise solutions across large organisations to join together the wide range of systems in place, why do we persist in using spreadsheets?
Firstly, their low cost means that they are universally available. And if you haven’t learnt how to use them already, it won’t take long. Once you’ve learnt the basics, it’s easy to expand your knowledge and experiment. Spreadsheets offer versatility and good functionality, providing and an easy workaround to any newly-imposed system. They’re also stable and allow models of some complexity to be built, enabling experimentation or tinkering with different scenarios.
The language of the spreadsheet is universal, which is one of the main reasons that they are hard to give up.
But what are the disadvantages?
Spreadsheets are for single users only and once a spreadsheet has been emailed to several different people, they all have their own version, which is then modified or adapted. Consequently the source of the data becomes lost and there are questions over its accuracy. You end up with multiple versions of the truth.
Despite this major disadvantage, people still love their spreadsheets and continue to use them in a wide range of business critical operations, emailing them and storing vital data on laptops, tablets and phones.
That’s why we’ve developed a suite of solutions that enable people to continue to use spreadsheets while reducing the risks to the business. Info-CTRL for Retail, Finance, Logistics and Manufacturing are all tailored towards different business processes and enable the automatic consolidation of data. With a relational SQL database back-end, which is hosted on a secure server, Info-CTRL solutions manage the uploading and downloading of reference data to and from spreadsheets. Automated workflow processes, authorisation and version control can all be built in. This increases security, accuracy and control of data, reducing the risks. So you can be safe in the knowledge that you are all singing from the same spreadsheet!