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Microsoft Businesses Software The Almighty Buck

Stop Using Excel, Finance Chiefs Tell Staffs (wsj.com) 273

Tatyana Shumsky, reporting for WSJ: Adobe's finance chief Mark Garrett says his team struggles keeping track of which jobs have been filled at the software company. The process can take days and requires finance staff to pull data from disparate systems that house financial and human-resources information into Microsoft's Excel spreadsheets. From there they can see which groups are hiring and how salary spending affects the budget. "I don't want financial planning people spending their time importing and exporting and manipulating data, I want them to focus on what is the data telling us," Mr. Garrett said. He is working on cutting Excel out of this process, he said. CFOs at companies including P.F. Chang's China Bistro, ABM Industries and Wintrust Financial are on a similar drive to reduce how much their finance teams use Excel for financial planning, analysis and reporting (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; an alternative source wasn't immediately available). Finance chiefs say the ubiquitous spreadsheet software that revolutionized accounting in the 1980s hasn't kept up with the demands of contemporary corporate finance units. Errors can bloom because data in Excel is separated from other systems and isn't automatically updated.
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Stop Using Excel, Finance Chiefs Tell Staffs

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  • by Osgeld ( 1900440 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @10:27AM (#55602969)

    well, it doesnt have to be, sounds like you have an IT problem, not a spreadsheet problem

    • by apoc.famine ( 621563 ) <.apoc.famine. .at. .gmail.com.> on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @10:45AM (#55603161) Journal

      Too bad they're not a software company. If they were, they could probably have someone code up a new system to automate this.

      That snark aside, Excel is generally a pretty clunky and fragile system for anything complicated, even if you have it linked to your data sources. If Adobe can't find COTS software that meets their needs, it blows my mind why they wouldn't develop it and sell it. They are a software company. They've identified a software need that large companies have. They're one of a handful of companies where it would make sense for this sort of stuff to be developed.

      I'm sure that Walmart and Ford likely have the same need, but their expertise isn't in making Software. But then again, neither is Adobe's.....

      • All the BI stuff dies a horrible death if you have to deal with any decent amount of records like a million +.
        • If you're dealing with a million records and not summary data, that would be the problem. IMHO. You can manipulate and abstract out the relevant (meta) information separately that does reflect what the BI is supposed to be telling you. Unless that is what the BI bit is supposed to be doing. In which case, you're screwed.

          • by avandesande ( 143899 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @12:04PM (#55603881) Journal
            Then I might as well do it all in SQL
            • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @12:27PM (#55604055)

              Then I might as well do it all in SQL

              This is about accountants and marketing people. They know how to write Excel macros. They do NOT know how to write SQL queries, nor how to integrate SQL into their applications, nor do they have permission to directly access the SQL database on the server.

              If you know how to use SQL, then you are not who TFA is talking about.

      • by grasshoppa ( 657393 ) <skennedy@tpno - c o . o rg> on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @11:30AM (#55603615) Homepage

        If Adobe can't find COTS software that meets their needs, it blows my mind why they wouldn't develop it and sell it. They are a software company.

        Debatable. They're a software company in the same way I'm a programmer; yes, I can cobble together a program to achieve various objectives, but I'm hardly ever proud of the quality of the code.

      • by CohibaVancouver ( 864662 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @12:08PM (#55603921)

        Too bad they're not a software company. If they were, they could probably have someone code up a new system to automate this.

        It's a classic problem referenced for centuries as "The cobbler's children have no shoes." If you're a software company your developers are seen as a resource to develop code that you sell for revenue, not code up internal systems. You also don't want to pay another software company to solve your problem because you might either a) compete with them or b) think you should do it internally (even though you can't or won't).

        It's not unique to software. I once worked for a mechanic shop that had a handful of company cars that were in terrible shape. Same deal. The boss never wanted his mechanics to work on the company fleet, but he sure as heck wasn't going to pay a competing mechanical shop to work on them either.

      • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @12:26PM (#55604047)

        Worked at a company several years ago that produced and sold printers and scanners. They once asked in genral why their scanning system for larger companies was not selling.
        I asked them if it was any good. If the hardware was good. If it worked. If it was flexible and I got the whole sales pitch of how great it was, Then I asked if it was so good, why are WE not using it.

      • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @01:53PM (#55604959)

        If Adobe can't find COTS software that meets their needs, it blows my mind why they wouldn't develop it and sell it. They are a software company.

        The people at Adobe doing the financial analysis work are decidedly NOT software developers. That has a lot to do with it.

        As it turns out, programming a functional and useful general purpose accounting and finance system is the very definition of a non-trivial endeavor. I say this as a a certified accountant and have done this sort of work professionally. Seriously, it's a lot harder than you think. People get very upset if you mess up the software that tracks the money. Replacing spreadsheets is going to be near impossible for a lot of tasks. Plus you need a tool that is flexible enough to roll with all sorts of unexpected business processes and analysis.

        Despite it's many flaws, nobody has come up with a better general purpose tool for ad-hoc analysis and reporting than a spreadsheet and most finance geeks use Excel. There also is a strong whiff of "if the only tool you have is a hammer every problem becomes a nail". Finance people go to spreadsheets because it's the tool they already know how to use and have available. Yes sometimes there are better ways to do things but when you are asked to get the job done in some absurdly short time frame (which happens ALL the time in finance/accounting) you're going to go with what you know even if it isn't ideal. That said, Excel and other spreadsheets could do a LOT better job integrating with data sources and adapting to the real world needs of financial professionals. Frankly Microsoft (and Libreoffice) have been quite lazy in this regard. It remains an unnecessarily huge pain in the ass to pull data from outside sources into spreadsheets. And even when you can do it it is quite fragile and easy to break.

        Actually if you really want to be depressed, you would be amazed at how many accountants still use paper tape calculators even when they have a spreadsheet available to them. Good luck getting those people to move to a custom designed piece of software.

        • As it turns out, programming a functional and useful general purpose accounting and finance system is the very definition of a non-trivial endeavor.

          Having written just a simple customer billing program for a customer service department, I'm well aware of this. Corporate customers billed by the month, by the minute, N free calls per month before billing at X rate, free first 10 minutes of support, all support summed up and billed by the hour....it was a fucking nightmare.

          But prior to that, all the CS staff were just logging it in Excel, and sending it to the manager to sum up each month.New manager took one look at that process, shit their pants, and ca

    • by Thelasko ( 1196535 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @10:48AM (#55603189) Journal
      Excel 2016 and 360 have a bunch of collaboration options. Unfortunately, theses versions seem to be significantly slower because they are always trying to connect to collaboration servers, even if you are working locally.
    • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @11:08AM (#55603401)

      When you have Excel or Access creep in your organization, it is often because of stupid IT policies, where you don't have enough IT Staff to make good solutions, or IT rules are so strict that the staff isn't allowed to make such a solution.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @11:13AM (#55603449) Journal

      well, it doesnt have to be, sounds like you have an IT problem, not a spreadsheet problem

      Quoted for truth. The Excel plus copious macros and hackjob Access monstrosities of the world are terrible, terrible, things; but they exist because Office is actually pretty good at letting people who have subject matter expertise and subject matter problems bang out something resembling a solution without much IT or software engineering getting involved. This is also one of the reasons why Office has been so persistent.

      You can(and taste dictates that you should) dislike the results; they are usually awful; but those sorts of systems grow up when people are forced to build their own tools because yours are nonexistent and/or so atrocious as to be effectively unusable. If you don't build it; your users will be forced to, and while they may do a decent job given the constraints of their tools and knowledge, it won't be pretty or maintainable.

      • by TuringTest ( 533084 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @11:37AM (#55603663) Journal

        they exist because Office is actually pretty good at letting people who have subject matter expertise and subject matter problems bang out something resembling a solution without much IT or software engineering getting involved.

        Hear, hear. When someone who knows what they're doing can create a functional workflow prototype in an evening using a spreadsheet, yet having a working application with the same or less functionality requires months of taking requirements and development iterations, it's no wonder that people use the tools at hand for most of their information, even if developers think that doing this is a monstrosity.

      • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @01:37PM (#55604791) Journal
        Access gets a bad rap, but it's actually a pretty good tool for its intended purpose: a RAD tool for developing a database front end. If your data is actually stored in Access then either you're prototyping or you're doing it wrong, but if your data is stored in a real database then Access is a pretty good way of quickly generating forms that interface it that you can roll out in your organisation (though web interfaces are largely obsoleting it these days).
    • I've worked at a lot of places that have no semblance of databases of a wiki.. literally everything is on a spreadsheet somewhere.. Many of which have been going for decades and don't save right in modern versions or are broken in some way or have some busted field somewhere which requires workarounds like "Don't store any data in cells that are multiples of 100" kind of garbage. Seriously, keep things in a wiki table or a database, they can pretty well all export to CSV which can import into Excel if it M
    • "well, it doesnt have to be, sounds like you have an IT problem, not a spreadsheet problem"

      It's in 95% of the cases never a 'spreadsheet' problem, just people doing lists of any kind who apparently can't figure out how to use Tables in Word.

    • by Cyberia ( 70947 )

      This is neither an IT Problem or a spreadsheet problem. I would think this falls more in line as a problem with poor Process Management and pure laziness to begin with, then Management's poor choices in their selection of (or lack there of) an ERP system.

      • I would agree, and add that this is a human nature problem. Companies put people in place to solve problems, yet no person can be so well rounded as to solve all problems (HR people are hired for soft skills, not software skills). But then they are put in charge of building a process, and can't imagine a database solution, having never been trained in the dark arts of data, and therefore can't imagine that they should even call IT for help. In some instances when they do realize they need help, pride (I

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @10:30AM (#55603007)
    nor is it an invoicing system. If you're a small company you can get away with using it as such. In the 70s they were probably still better than paper. But it always amazing and mildly frightens me how many folks in big companies still use it for major parts of their business because, hey, it's already there and I know how to use it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I would argue that the most commonly used programming language is Excel. But few of the people using it realize they're programming.

      It's a brilliant reactive data programming model that makes intuitive sense to non-technical users. They feel empowered to use it to solve problems right now with a computer. They experiment with it, try things, Google how to do more things- just like any programmer does. And they feel capable of doing this because they don't know they're programming.

      Within the Amazon warehouse

      • Management who have just spent millions on an ERP system that does not do what they thought it did always need Excel analysis of the underlying data. Also ERP is the place the data should be but it is not usually great at analysis. Anyone who demands that Excel be banned from the organization is quite clearly an incompetent twat.

        • by gtall ( 79522 )

          Yeah, let's take valuable company data and analysis and splatter it all over the organization in incompatible Excel crap. What well-positioned company wouldn't want to do this?

        • just hire some programmers and build it in house. Pay the programmers well and give them long term career options and they'll make good software instead of crap. I suppose you don't get to take trips to San Francisco every year to hang out at the ERP trade shows if you do that though.
      • It's a brilliant reactive data programming model that makes intuitive sense to non-technical users.

        The model is brilliant, it's just said that the Excel implementation is restricted to first-order functions acting on atomic data types organized in a fixed-layout grid. None of these restrictions has to be be necessary.

        • Bleh, "it's just sad"...
        • Completely true. Though now that developers are beginning to understand why a tool like Excel is good for the people using it, there's hope.

          Maybe there's chance that someone invents a new development environment with the same benefits of the spreadsheet for non-programmers, but updated to take advantage of the recent advances in programming language theory regarding type checking and asynchronous/distributed computing.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Because nobody understands how Access works (meaning regular office people). The amazement when you show them how a report they would spent a week generating in Excel takes less than a second in Access is palpable. There are better databases, but for people who are using Excel as a database they probably already have Access installed and ready to go. It's not bad for small databases.

    • by TuringTest ( 533084 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @11:33AM (#55603641) Journal

      Excel use by information workers doesn't follow the typical patterns of other application software.

      Spreadsheets belong to the family of End-User Development software, a research tradition which has more in common with IDEs than with office suites. EUD focus on allowing end users to create automations without the need to understand the logic of classic programming languages, i.e. without learning a formal grammar nor having to follow the execution path of a program runtime in your head.

      In spreadsheets, in addition to a simplified domain-specific programming language, you get a dead-simple modeling tool for your data schemas (with simple visual queries), and mixing the data and code in-place, which helps as much as your preferred debugger. End users usually don't get as powerful debugging tools as developers, and spreadsheets are typically the only environment where a clever power user has access to similarly powerful tools.

  • by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @10:30AM (#55603015)

    Excel is the case in point use of Law of the instrument [wikipedia.org].

    In engineering I've seen Excel used to share images, a database, run a production line with some VBA/oracle black magic integration.

    • run a production line with some VBA/oracle black magic integration.

      That is just so wrong... I have the overwhelming urge to hunt down and smack the person that would do such madness!

      Remember kids, friends don't let friends use VBA.

      • What *exactly* is wrong with VBA?
        • The GP doesn't like it so it must be bad.
          Now, I've ditched complex formulas in favor of VBA a long time ago, probably around when Office 2007 got released. Stuff just works.

        • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

          Not so much, more the fact it can be embedded inside documents that are frequently sent around via insecure channels (ie email) and you have a huge security accident waiting to happen...

          In most cases like this, excel is a very poor tool for the job but it just happens to be the only tool provided so they make do and eventually get so tied in to insecure and fragile practices that it's hard to get out again.

        • What *exactly* is wrong with VBA?

          If you have exhausted the spreadsheet features of Excel, and feel the need to use VBA, it's time to upgrade to more powerful numerical analysis software (Python, FORTRAN, Mathmatica, MATLAB, etc.). What you are trying to do has likely been done, you are just using the wrong tool and reinventing the wheel. The libraries in these software packages will be more elegant, faster, and more robust than anything you will create in VBA. If you can somehow manage to create a better program in VBA than with a real

          • by g01d4 ( 888748 )
            There's a trade-off to consider if your code's to be shared (ever share your Matlab code with someone who doesn't use it) and a crude GUI which you get with Excel that you have to develop from scratch with the software you cite.
    • Excel is the case in point use of Law of the instrument [wikipedia.org].

      In engineering I've seen Excel used to share images, a database, run a production line with some VBA/oracle black magic integration.

      Behold! Oraxcel
      Yes, this [oraxcel.com] exist

  • Data (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sqorbit ( 3387991 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @10:31AM (#55603027)
    "I don't want financial planning people spending their time importing and exporting and manipulating data, I want them to focus on what is the data telling us," .......If this is the case they need to have that data in some sort of format that is useful. It sounds to me like he is simply looking to replace Excel rather than get rid of it. If he's replacing it with something the company will most likely need to train employees on it. This process will in turn create more time wasted.
    • Re:Data (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @10:38AM (#55603097)
      His real issue will be that his "financial planning people" actually use Excels macro features, cooking up entirely new calculations on the spot.

      His simpler streamlined replacement wont give his financial planners the ability to plan.
      • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

        The real issue, comes down to communication and taking the next step. Lets face it Financial/modeling planning is actually complex business. It requires deep understanding and often quite a bit of experimentation and iteration over months or years. Once the model is established its less complex to implement. The problem is most tools that IT will want to use for an, entry/transaction -> ETL -> calculate -> ETL -> report, process are not tools that lend themselves to rapid iteration and use b

      • by SQLGuru ( 980662 )

        If your system won't let you plan, get a new system.....or build one ground up if your process is that different from industry standards.

        I've been in IT for years (early 90s) and have seen plenty of projects who's goal was to eliminate all of these smaller custom technology processes managed by the business and create or implement more robust tools to replace them. Sometimes those were planning tools, sometimes those were data management tools. But in the end, it was an improvement to their process (at a

      • The macro features are very powerful, but also very fraught. They lure you in with their simplicity (record macro, anyone???) but then you find out that the pitfalls are such that you need to become a VBA expert to create anything reliable. And by then you are better off just programming in something "real". I've done... unspeakable... things in Excel - at first on my own initiative and later at the behest of managers who couldn't be talked out of it. It always turns out to be harder than initially thought,

      • His simpler streamlined replacement wont give his financial planners the ability to plan.

        We've had "little languages" for decades, what prevents us from using them in better environments than Excel?

    • Re:Data (Score:4, Insightful)

      by omnichad ( 1198475 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @10:59AM (#55603307) Homepage

      mporting and exporting and manipulating data

      i.e. making the data talk.

      This is exactly how you find out what a large amount of data is telling you.

      • If you torture the data long enough, you can make it tell you anything...

        • But, as we all know, information gained from torture is unreliable at best. No, give me a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers, and I can get better information out of the data than anyone can get by torturing it.
    • by MagicM ( 85041 )

      It sounds to me like he is simply looking to replace Excel

      He was. TFA mentions he already switched. This article is just a clickbait title and an advertisement for "cloud-based technologies from Anaplan Inc., Workiva Inc., Adaptive Insights and their competitors".

  • by ctilsie242 ( 4841247 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @10:36AM (#55603079)

    Yes, Excel is a staple in work environments... but what software out there can replace it that is just effective? I know some consulting groups would love to replace it with their own, expensive solution. However, for 99.99% of what is out there, LibreOffice Calc, Numbers, or Excel can do the job well.

    • Yeah it sounds like a workflow problem. That and if they're reinventing the wheel then some qualified spreadsheets and document control would streamline stuff even if they stick with Excel.
      • It's definitely a workflow problem, but I suspect one of the problems is that Excel is in the middle of the workflow. It's fine for light-duty data exploration, prototyping, one-offs... things like that. But if you find that you are using Excel as glue, you are probably Doing It Wrong(tm) :)

    • Expensive solutions for simple financial data is just exploitation by less honest consulting companies. As you say, Excel/libreoffice Calc and others can LINK to a real database instead of keeping the raw numbers there. But it is also very easy these days to setup a MariaDB database and do a quick web. A few solutions can be found with just 5 minutes of looking:

      http://www.vfront.org/demo.php [vfront.org]
      https://dadabik.com/ [dadabik.com] (not open source, paid solution)
      https://formtools.org/ [formtools.org]
      http://phpformgen.sourceforge.... [sourceforge.net]
    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

      Sound like he wants a spreadsheet with real time data.
      Which is something Excel (and probably most other spreadsheets) can already do, you just need to hook it up to the sources.
      Perhaps a simple pivot table tool (which Excel can also somewhat do).

  • I've had so many requests and interviews for projects to consolidate excel files made by managers for years. Worst case was a multi-branch bank where EVERY branch and a different version of excel records and they needed to import the data into an Oracle database. Which proves the statement, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing". Give people the impression they can do more than they in fact can effectively, and you have a mess on your hands. Excel was never designed to be a database, never claimed to be
    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

      It should also be stated that a reasonable Excel sheets is a lot (as in "a handful of magnitudes") cheaper than any custom-made solution that a consulting firm would build. And the Excel sheet would actually work.

      As some point some Excel sheets become succesfull enough to outgrow their limits, and that's when you hire a consultancy firm to port it.

      (FWIW, I've worked at such a consultancy firm; they mostly exist by overselling ridiculously overcomplicated solutions then running up double the budget).

      • That is a good point... my developer has a lot easier time writing up a program for me when I can hand him a functional Excel prototype.
  • If you don't provide your employees better tools for a task, they're going to keep\start using something that's easier for them to use.
    • If you don't provide your employees better tools for a task, they're going to keep\start using something that's easier for them to use.

      Update for the times we live in....If you don't provide your employees better tools for a task, they're going to just use Excel.

  • The Best tool is the tool you know how to use. If users are critical of database systems, CIOs should pay attention and find out WHY they want to do their work in Excel instead.

  • by jabberw0k ( 62554 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @10:49AM (#55603197) Homepage Journal
    After all these years, are there any programs at all that work like Javelin [wikipedia.org]? Where you create a worksheet (not a spreadsheet) that brings together all the underlying "variables" (simple values or time series data which are automatically converted between days, months, seconds, years, quarters, or whatever)...? Javelin was popular before databases and networks were widespread, but extending its concepts to modern systems could be as simple as defining a "variable" as the result of a SQL query.
  • by Bright Apollo ( 988736 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @10:49AM (#55603199) Journal

    It's laughable to read any commentary from anonymous finance chiefs decrying Excel's inability to keep up with "x". These folks truly do not use Excel in any meaningful way. Truly.

    Every business person in every industry I've ever worked in (telecom, pharma, housing, transportation, manufacturing) rely on Excel as the glue application for everything. I have to persuade people to use Word instead of Excel for actual documentation requirements, that's how reliant everyone is on this magical tool.

    Actuaries use Excel almost exclusively to perform calcs for clients. I don't care who you work for, you're using Excel and not ProVal for the majority of your work.

    Engineers use Excel for *everything*. What other application imports and exports to so many different formats, and allows any calculation you can dream up?

    You write reports? You write complex reports? Try connecting your queries to Excel and let your end users twist the results on their own. You're not writing layouts any longer, and THAT'S FUCKING AWESOME.

    Face it, orgs should roll it out and become Excel experts in house, and use it for as much as they can. For the value it delivers, it's dead-cheap and nobody has an app to match it.

    --#

    • Engineers use Excel for *everything*. What other application imports and exports to so many different formats, and allows any calculation you can dream up?

      I can't tell whether you're a troll or just seriously deranged. Have you never heard of R, or python, or MATLAB, or Mathematica?
      "...many different formats...", 99% of which are just other Microsoft-proprietary formats so who cares.
      Engineering work in Excel is impossible to debug, excruciating to edit or modify, and guaranteed to go wrong if you blink.
      And, yes, I've used all of the above tools, including Excel. I know better than to use Excel for anything that matters beyond a basic spread

    • by guruevi ( 827432 )

      I don't know where you work, but engineers using Excel should have their licenses revoked. Excel is full of bugs and easy to make, yet difficult to find mistakes for complex calculations, hence the need to get rid of Excel.

  • Finance chiefs say the ubiquitous spreadsheet software that revolutionized accounting in the 1980s...

    I thought this was about Excel, not VisiCalc or Lotus 1-2-3.

    • This comment perfectly illustrates why it is very difficult to train computers to parse natural language. If some humans can't recognize that the context has shifted away from Excel and towards spreadsheets in general, how can you train a computer to do it?

  • Also, stop using Acrobat Reader.
  • Pretty much every reporting/analytic implementation I have worked on always had a requirement to get the data out to an Excel-friendly format. It doesn't matter how fluid/flexible/beautiful of a UI you provide, they want the data in Excel. I think a lot of it is that is very simple to change values and do what-if analysis ("what would our material costs on widget X have to go down to get to a gross profit of Y%"). This is surprisingly difficult to do in implementations like Crystal Reports, SQL Reporting

  • Ah. Evidently these particular finance people are just now discovering ERP systems.

    Next, they're going to complain that a monolithic system isn't really flexible enough and they need to move to a cloud based system.

    And, hey! Excel integrates with Microsoft's cloud based ERP system. Full circle.

  • by Provocateur ( 133110 ) <shedied@gmail. c o m> on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @11:20AM (#55603527) Homepage

    Back in 2005, it was not about being on different systems, but there was an article entitled The subtle tyranny of spreadsheets and link https://tech.slashdot.org/stor... [slashdot.org].

  • by filesiteguy ( 695431 ) <perfectreign@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @11:27AM (#55603593) Homepage
    My (IT) staff and I always joke about how Excel is the #1 reporting tool. Unfortunately, with decades of COTS and other vendor systems in play, the only good way to get any decent real-time reporting with sorting and filtering is in Excel. I just exported my 2016/2017 fiscal year purchases out of our $150M AMS Advantage ERP system into Excel so I can analyse the data correctly. The ERP system simply cannot handle the flexibility i need.
  • collectively pay for this advertisement, or did just one of them fund this WSJ piece and the editors threw in the other names to make it look balanced? I'm guessing Anaplan Inc paid for it since their name was mentioned first and last.

  • Products like Excel should be the tools that help a person do the task at hand, they should not be the task at hand. Obviously, the infrastructure systems do not do what is needed to help the people do their jobs, so the Excel band-aid was applied. The real solution is to fix the infrastructure systems.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @11:50AM (#55603757) Journal
    I am married to one. Very heavy user of Excel.

    Their multi billion dollar asset tracking system and SEC reporting system involves exchanging excel files. They made a great leap forward by using a common shared drive instead of emailing each other excel files.

    They don't even have a version control system, to create an audit trail of changes. The process always starts with "Copy last month spreadsheet into a new name for this month". It is insane. But, on the other hand, had she been sane she might not have married me.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @11:53AM (#55603783) Journal
    Did he tell them to stop using pdf files first, before stopping the use of Excel?
  • While far from perfect, google sheets has a crucial advantage: it's a single version for everyone in the company once it is deployed. I have seen departments cut their IT spending significantly by removing Office and its many versions from the users' computers.

    Also, it reduces the problem of "did you get the latest version of the spreadsheet the boss edited today at 3:00 AM?" or the many slightly different versions of the same spreadsheet enabled by email and Excel.
  • The problem isn't just that they are all using stale data, repeating each other's work, doing a bunch of clicking, etc. though that's all a colossal waste, the problem is that they don't know if it's right. Excel puts business logic (code) in many cells and one could be different than another, it's hard to peer-review, hard to debug, etc. You cannot do real version control on it, because the data changes all the time, etc. Logic which could be expressed in 20 lines of code become bazillions of counter-int

  • I worked at a company that had several hundred stores. The Helpdesk needed often contact the store manager. However these changed as lot and the stores where devided by districts and the district manager each had their own spreadsheet,

    So somehow I got them to sewnd me an updated version each Monday. I mmade a database with the information and put that online on my personal database, just secured by IP adress verification. (That is good enough, right?)

    That way Helpdesk people had updated data. Once that was

  • I have felt the pain of being in various teams with plenty of appropriate software tools to keep everything in sync and not have a confused mess of data with muddied authority and progeny.

    However, inevitably, the UI design is so crappy that people 'export to xls' and use spreadsheet offline to add little fields or discuss en-masse.

    It's also a process issue. Inevitably people think too much about the contents of the fields, and another motivation for people doing xls is for them to add a column with some s

  • Somebody just needs to teach them how to write a program. How hard could that be?
    /s

All great discoveries are made by mistake. -- Young

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