Microsoft Excel spreadsheets serve a great purpose in every business environment. Since the first version was released, Excel supported advanced reporting, automation of repetitive tasks and other user designed functions. This functionality makes it a widely used tool for daily operations, scorecard data, financial modeling and business planning. But at some point, spreadsheets can be pushed beyond their limits and quickly become difficult to manage in a collaborative setting. A better approach is to address the underlying sources of data, namely software, and consider a move to a broader solution, such as a cloud ERP application.
As a financial professional in your organization, there are some warning signs you should be watching for that could indicate that you have perhaps tried to push the limits with your use of spreadsheets:
- Do you have multiple people who need to access the same data, often simultaneously?
- Do you have too many sources for data you are compiling?
- Are there differences and conflicts between data from different sources?
- Do you spend too much time verifying that the numbers you are using are up-to-date and accurate?
- Do you spend too much time on the manually intensive work which takes away more valuable time of analyzing the data and give recommendations for action?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it may be time to think about moving to a more modern and robust cloud application to manage your operations and associated data. Before you can figure out if that move is right for you, there are some things to consider. One of the primary considerations when moving to the cloud to organize and analyze your data are the original sources for the data itself. Here are a few steps in the process to consider:
- One of the most common mistakes I see is when people blindly take the software they are currently using and merely move them to cloud applications thinking that a new application will produce better data. In this instance, they are merely moving their data inefficiencies to a different location, often with less integration than they have within their onsite environment. It’s more advantageous to leverage cloud scalability to move to a broader application, such as an ERP, to reduce data sources to a single source of truth.
- A modern ERP can be configured to meet an organization’s unique requirements for the input and output of data. It’s time to think about what is required for your operations. Why are you collecting the data? Who is using the data? How are they using it? Sit down and talk to the end users to discover what is working, what isn’t, and how the flow of data can be improved.
- Once these processes are defined, it is a good idea to get a workflow diagram drawn up to outline all the steps and decision points that are truly important for your operations. In this phase, it is important to not simply match the application to the current spreadsheets that are being used. Rather, focus on the future state and a move away from reactive towards predictive data. With a cloud-based ERP application, you are building a scalable environment that will give you flexibility to create a more user-friendly experience and better data for all resources.
Spreadsheets are great for some things, but they are not suited well for the planning and reporting that truly benefit your company’s bottom line. A cloud-based ERP solution makes data accessible, in real-time, to everyone who needs to see such information. Accessibility boosts participation and accountability, making it easier to get meaningful input and engagement.
At BerganKDV, our ERP team is here to help you assess your options for your operational and reporting needs. Start here.