May 5, 2023

Key Indicators It's Time to Move Beyond Spreadsheets

Key Indicators It's Time to Move Beyond Spreadsheets

Ralf VonSosen
May 5, 2023

In the beginning, every company starts with spreadsheets. At a limited size, spreadsheets provide a simple and complete solution to many business needs. Whether creating business plans, forecasts, reports, trackers, or lists, spreadsheets are a simple solution. 

As companies grow and the size of teams and sophistication of information increases, many stay with traditional spreadsheets despite the availability of more powerful tools. Change is difficult because spreadsheets are comfortable, ubiquitous, and established. 

Unfortunately, the overreliance on spreadsheets can lead to a variety of efficiency, security, flexibility and information integrity issues. More advanced solutions provide the scalability, guardrails, compliance, and auditability needed by more mature organizations. 

Below are some of the reasons why it's time to ditch traditional spreadsheet-based planning. When experiencing any of these situations, it is time to explore a planning and analytics tool.

  • Presentation: Spreadsheets are generally good as a presentation tool as long as you can manage the size of the data that feeds the charts and tables. Unfortunately, Excel is linear, and there is one thing it structurally cannot present well that is highly relevant to modeling: the parent-child relationship among data. You need a multi-dimensional tool that can provide you this capability through a hierarchy view.
  • Analysis: Spreadsheets aren't ideal for data slicing and dicing. Because of their simplicity, they are ideal for generating a rapid analysis. However, as the size and complexity of the data grows, so does the difficulty of performing analysis within a spreadsheet. You can no longer see the relationship between all of your data and have lost the ability to make sense of any results or outputs.
  • Engine: Spreadsheets eventually fail. Slowdowns, crashes, and error messages are all examples of common breaking behaviors. You begin to have to trim your model in order to add to it. You spend a lot of time and effort updating something, and then other parts of your model begin to fail. You may begin to rely on all of these checks to ensure that your numbers match. All of these are indications that you have pushed Excel to its limits, at which point you should consider a multi-dimensional platform because they have the engine to scale your models.
  • Governance: Spreadsheets were never intended to be used as a SaaS enterprise platform. SaaS platforms have enterprise governance features to allow multiple people within a company to have their own user identities because that’s how they regulate compliance. Efforts have been made in recent years to add governance features to spreadsheets but have fallen short. Think twice if you are using spreadsheets in a company setting, unless you are designing new ideas for yourself and do not intend to collaborate with others on your team, organization, or external parties.

Download our Signs It’s Time to Upgrade from Spreadsheets white paper today to learn more about how a collaborative planning tool like Finicast can help your company overcome the pain points of traditional spreadsheets.