Is Excel on its way out?

Advisory
A person wearing blue typing into an Excel spreadsheet on a MMacBook laptop on a wooden desk with a notebook, sunglasses and coffee next to them.

Having a good understanding of Excel is the baseline of accountancy – it’s almost an entry-level requirement. This prerequisite helps junior accountants understand how businesses operate and the kind of things clients need, and of course how to log transactions and display their impact on business.

Futri takes aspects of Excel functionalities but expands on them and takes understanding how businesses work to a new level.

Other software is taking automation to new heights

Excel was a trailblazer in automation at its peak. But, nowadays, cloud-based software has adopted this tech and made it much better. Excel is still needed in firms, especially for functions such as pivot tables and VLookup, and its ability to automate formulas and sums. It’s being used in a different way now, though, because the focus has shifted to advisory services. This way of working requires more heavy-duty software for projections and scenario modelling.

Cloud accounting platforms like Xero, QuickBooks Online and MYOB use automation to pull in your transactional data. Futrli continues where these tools stop, so you can extrapolate this data for almost any use. Think of Excel as the foundation, while our software and your accounting package are the structure on top, allowing you a granular view of trends, data and projections.

Helping clients visualise trends

The focus is to add value to what you’re doing, which can be difficult with a spreadsheet. Clients aren’t able to visualise trends and projections as easily in the ‘wall of numbers’ that Excel displays. This makes it more difficult to really see what’s going on in their business.

Tech like Futrli links all the data in a business together. Rather than pulling in information from each department of a business manually, for example, automation and integrations do this for you. Everyone’s experienced the dread of realising there’s an error in a spreadsheet and then went on to waste hours rectifying the easily avoided mistake.

A shift in focus for incoming staff

Back in February, Accounting Today reported that heads of accounting firms and departments are no longer favouring Excel as a skill. Now this skill has been replaced by the ability to adapt to new technology. They write,

CFOs no longer view Microsoft Excel as the most important skill for their financial planning and accounting staff. Instead, adaptability to new technology is the most desirable trait in new hires.

They go on to say that Excel is still the most widely used software in firms of any size, which is to be expected. But, the shift in focus from it speaks volumes of the changing landscape of the accounting industry.

Cloud benefits

Having various levels of user security settings in Futrli means you can be assured no sensitive data will fall into the wrong hands. With desktop programs, it can be difficult to maintain an up to date version of a spreadsheet. Further to this, using cloud-based software means all data will also be backed up in the safe confines of the cloud, eradicating the chances of losing or corrupting files.

There’s no manual carry forward of monthly figures, so you’ll save a considerable amount of time per client too. If you’ve ever tried forecasting in spreadsheets you’ll know it’s a difficult task, but pulling in data automatically from the cloud means you can create a forecast in seconds.

AccountingWEB sum up the importance of working in the cloud when it comes to forecasting, nicely:

A typical [Excel] forecast has a half-life of no more than 25% of the forecast period. In other words, unless refreshed, the usefulness of the month’s sales forecast halves within a week of producing it.

 

Conclusion

Excel will not be phased out any time soon. Instead, firms are opting to use it in conjunction with cloud accounting and forecasting tools. Using both means you’ll be able to keep control over everything. It’s important to remember, though, the benefits of using the cloud for security, speed and accuracy.

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