Common Accounting Productivity Issues

SFP understands current issues faced by customers on their accounting and finance processes.

Have you ever wondered why your organization uses many spreadsheets to perform critical accounting, financial and reporting processes?

Customers are using ERP applications to perform many important accounting and finance functions. Different ERP applications have different strengths and weaknesses. In general, ERP functions are designed to act like a train to carry your business events as transactions from one train station to another train station. The train stations may not be your natural starting points or ending points with results you actually need. To fill the gaps, you use spreadsheets.

While Excel is an excellent tool for number crunching and ad-hoc analysis, great cares must be given when spreadsheets are used as parts of your accounting and finance processes. As time goes, your organization may grow to many unmanaged spreadsheets with multiple copies of different versions, broken links of outdated data, complex levels of formulas, and no documentation for proper staff training or transition.

There are numerous discussions on too much reliance on the use of Excel. Some common issues are:
  • Data imported from ERPs as snapshots to spreadsheets becomes outdated when ERP data changes. No automation to refresh the ERP data.
  • Excel spreadsheets require manual version control. There is no assurance that the version you are looking at is the most recent, up-to-date version. You might be working off old versions which can lead to incorrect calculations and erroneous forecasting.
  • Important business logic is maintained in Excel formula. The logic across different spreadsheets may not be valid or consistent, resulting in different answers from different users at different time.
  • Free up users to manage processes and resolve exceptions.
  • Complex formulas using Excel functions (e.g., lookup, macro, name, pivot, etc.) require staff with good or excellent Excel skills.
  • Information that is stored and managed in Excel, is not in the ERP system. The information is not available to anyone who does not have access to spreadsheets.
  • Broken links to other Excel spreadsheets occur when Excel spreadsheets are moved.
  • Excel spreadsheets are easily susceptible to errors – intentional or unintentional and typically no one is auditing the spreadsheet in sufficient detail to uncover the error(s).
  • Potential for fraud increase as critical information is hidden.
  • Knowledge transition is not managed properly as many important spreadsheets are stored at personal user accounts. Spreadsheets are gone when experience staff leaves. Many Excel spreadsheets as designed at a personal level. While they make sense for the original users, they do not make sense for other users.

Many studies from accounting professional organizations found significant issues on excel errors, accounting errors and design issues. Many customers could make decisions based on flawed information and analyses!