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Still using Excel and ERP to navigate an uncertain financial future?

Let’s be honest. While ERP and Excel are useful tools for managing financial data, they’re unlikely to provide the level of detail, insights, and flexibility required to make the best possible business decisions. If you don’t have an alternative – e.g., a genuine FP&A platform or tools - you are reliant on gut, guesswork, and a limited amount of data when you need accuracy, certainty of direction, and confidence.  

In these ‘interesting’ times, CFOs are under increased pressure to lead their companies through the best and worst times. Recession, pandemics, invasions, supply chain and resourcing woes, and more have all contributed to this challenging era.  

The reality is that navigating through new waters with old tools will never cut it. And here are three reasons why. 

1. Want to look to the future? Sadly, your ERP provides limited visibility.

ERPs are designed to track all your business transactions, from purchases to sales, inventory, production, and payments. An ERP allows you to focus on the current status of your organisation and report on its historical performance. 

But what your ERP can’t do, even with the help of well-massaged spreadsheets, is provide forward-looking insights, starting from your current actuals and historical performance. So, if you want to model an 18-month rolling sales forecast by unit, simulate changes to sales prices, model a change in staff levels, or view the impact of salary increases, your ERP isn’t the place to do it.  

And that’s a worry. This future-facing information is critical to your organisation and your ability to make good decisions and identify opportunities to pivot, grow, or aim for new horizons.  

2. Need real-time insights to thrive and survive but are stuck with outdated data?

As a modern CFO, you need real-time access to financial data. You’d think that was non-negotiable, yet many CFOs still miss out on critical insights and trends. 

Why is up-to-date data so important?  

It’s only through using near-live (or analytics that can be refreshed at the drop of a hat), that today’s CFO can keep a finger on the pulse of their organisation’s activities and identify new markets and new product opportunities, mitigate risks, and more.  

In short, having faster and instantly accessible reporting (enhanced by AI and ML functionalities that support advanced analytics and data visualisation) only improves your data modeling capabilities.  

The result? Those organisations with near-live data access (and therefore analytics) have a significant competitive advantage through their deeper, more timely and accurate insights into the future.  

3. Falling behind when it comes to advanced analytics?

So, why is having advanced analytics so important? And what is it? 

Advanced analytics helps finance teams look forward and better forecast the future with predictions, such as which products and customers will be most profitable, or which customers will most likely pay their invoices on time. 

TechTarget adds “advanced analytics uses data science beyond traditional business intelligence (BI) methods to predict patterns and estimate the likelihood of future events. This, in turn, can help an organization be more responsive and significantly increase its accuracy in decision-making.” 

But despite the obvious value that analytics can deliver, finance teams remain challenged with putting data and analytics into practice. In the global Workday survey “Finance Redefined”, results showed that only 35% of respondents are making extensive use of advanced analytics in key areas such as planning, budgeting and forecasting. 

The bad news is that ERP and Excel (jointly or separately) simply don’t cut the mustard when it comes to advanced analytics.  

After all, how can they enable your organisation to optimise its operations and innovate to gain a competitive advantage through better customer analysis, predictive analytics, and statistical modeling? Or help you to improve your decision-making and keep pace with today’s extremely competitive, quick-changing markets? 

Are you ready for a sea change? 

Trying to make do with inadequate financial tools in these challenging times is a risk. Today’s CFO is under pressure to guide their organisation through troubled waters – something that is impossible to do without vision, certainty, and facts.  

While giving full kudos to the heroic navigators of old, relying on your ERP and Excel as your guiding stars is akin to setting sail with nothing more than a compass, some sunscreen, and a fishing line.  

You may eventually reach your destination, but you have to hope your journey is uninterrupted by storms, currents, and faster, more aggressive vessels. And that you haven’t missed the turn of the tide when it comes to making a successful financial landfall. 

With a modern financial planning and analysis (FP&A) platform, it’s far more likely to be plain sailing. 

Great outcomes start with great conversations

Great outcomes start with great conversations

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