Even though spreadsheets are highly effective for a vast amount of things, they do have some major shortcomings meaning that they are not suited as the primary analytical tool for the company.
“Before having InfoSuite, we made most of our analyses in spreadsheets. It was very time-consuming and we had to rely on persons from our financial department to make sure that the figures were updated. Today, figures are automatically updated twice a day.”
Based on some of the challenges we often here about when talking to companies about their use of spreadsheets, we have compiled a list of seven reasons why you should choose a BI solution over spreadsheets.
1) Analyse and compare data from different sources and from different angles
Often, data is copied directly into the spreadsheets from the ERP and financial systems without any form of enrichment. Furthermore, it may be quite difficult to combine data from different sources and cubes, which leads you to holding on to simplified analyses that only provide part of the through.
With a Business Intelligence solution, you can gather and enrich all the data you wish from different sources, allowing for much more nuances and rich analytical possibilities.
2) Data is updated automatically, down to a daily- or even hourly basis
Even though the gathering of data into the spreadsheets can be automatized to a certain degree, you still often need to spend time editing the data as well as the setup. Because of these manual procedures, key figures are often only analysed on a weekly-, monthly- or even quarterly basis.
A major advantage with BI systems is that data can be updated automatically all down to an hourly basis, meaning that you can follow up on your key figures in real-time rather than with month’s delay. Furthermore, the manual procedures associated with data updates are gone.
3) High flexibility and easy setup of ad hoc analyses
Spreadsheets lets you setup fine graphs based on your data. But what do you do if you wish to add another column or if you doubt some of the calculations made? You start over.
Part of the dynamics associated with the analytical tasks are lost if you often find yourself limited by lack of overview or because you need to start over if you wish to see the data from another angle. BI solutions lets you twist and turn your analyses however you want in a matter of a few clicks.
4) Avoid having a number of different spreadsheets in different versions
Personally, you probably have a few different spreadsheets – and in different versions.
Similarly, some of your colleagues probably also have their own different spreadsheets. When all of these spreadsheets are to be compared or, even worse, compiled, a great deal of resources are spent on this tedious cut and paste job for the numbers to match.
Rather than having one unified analytical view that can be easily adapted to the individual’s needs, you end up with your own independent pile of spreadsheets and a lot of confusion and frustration.
5) Eliminate the risk of errors
Another problem with the many spreadsheets is that it increases the risk of you or your colleagues to make a mistake. Most likely, you have tried sitting at a meeting with different spreadsheets and find yourselves discussing the validity of the analyses rather than the actual content of the analyses.
With a BI tool, the data is valid and there is only one version of the truth.
6) You do not have to depend on the spreadsheet-guru
As soon as more advanced functionalities are needed in the spreadsheets, many tend to turn to a colleague who is good a juggling with the spreadsheets. This, however, creates a problem seeing that this colleague may easily become a bottleneck in connection with the need for new analyses.
Rather than just setting up the ad hoc analysis you wish for in a BI solution on your own, you now have to wait for the spreadsheet-guru to do it.
7) Easier budgeting with automatic consolidation
Spreadsheets are highly usable for budgeting, although this also presents some challenges along with what has been discussed above.
If budgets are entered into several spreadsheets, it often proves quite tedious to consolidate these individual budgets. Apart from the extra typing, this also increases the risk of errors. Furthermore, you tend to end up with a large confusing spreadsheet all dependent on the number of different budgets that have to be gathered. Lastly, it is also problematic to make rolling budgeting figures.
By utilising a BI solution with integrated budgeting the above problems are nullified. The budgeting procedure is made easier, faster, and more secure. Also, de-central budgeting is much easier, and the finished budget is easily compared to realised numbers through a matter of few clicks.
Get a better overview, and minimise resources spent
Ultimately, the use of spreadsheets as the primary analytical tool likely leads to either of two scenarios: Either you spend to many hours editing and adapting your pile of spreadsheets, or, alternatively, you do not make these adaptions only to end up using static and limited analyses based on figures that are already outdated.
A Business Intelligence solution will make your analytical work much easier as well as it will present you with a vast amount of new ways to make in-depth analyses of your company’s data all no matter what your job role is or how you wish to analyse the data.