Why Your Finance Team Loves Excel
If you are a CIO or IT Admin, you probably wonder why your accounting team continues to rely on Microsoft Excel when you’re offering other attractive options, such as PowerBI. In this blog post, we will focus on the reasons why your finance team can’t kick their Excel habit and how our add-in, Velixo, can provide them with incredible efficiency gains.
The Power BI Dilemma
Power BI, and other business intelligence tools, offer great options for visualizing and analyzing your data. Dashboards provide attractive views or your trends and KPIs, supporting informed business decisions.
While it is undoubtedly a powerful tool, PowerBI does have some drawbacks. To begin, it requires advanced knowledge to configure and operate. Every accountant who has ever touched a computer knows how to use Excel, but many lack the background knowledge and/or the time required to use a BI tool. If you do know how to use the tool without constantly bugging the IT staff, you face the reality that it was never really intended for financial reporting. Highly visual dashboards are great, but what happens when you need to develop a balance sheet, complex P&L, or project reporting package?
Additionally, BI products rely on external data warehouses that need to be synchronized, so changes you make in your ERP can take hours to be reflected in your PowerBI dashboards. This is a major burden for accountants during month-end when they need to make multiple adjustment entries and see the changes right away. Also, you can’t drill down from your Power BI dashboards into your actual ERP data to explore further.
An Accountant’s Default: Export to Excel
For the reasons discussed above, “Export to Excel” ends up being the preferred button of CFOs and controllers. They’re able to answer their questions themselves, without needing your phone number on speed dial, and can create professional reports using all the functionality they know and love in Excel.
However, there are downsides to using Excel (on its own). First, the risk of error is high if you are relying on clicking and copy-pasting to build a complex report, such as an income statement for fifty branches that needs to be grouped and manipulated in a variety of ways. By the time your report is formatted and ready for distribution, the figures are already outdated! Imagine having to start over multiple times per day because you had new transactions, or because you want to look at a different period. Furthermore, it is difficult to audit your figures from Excel because your workbook isn’t connected to the ERP. In short, how much can you really trust that spreadsheet after you’ve mashed the data around for a few hours?
The next problem is distribution. It’s highly likely that your accounting team builds their reports, which then are shared with others. In addition to the obvious problem of sharing a static file that is only becoming more outdated with each passing second, the distribution process becomes a major time suck. Remember that 50-branch income statement we talked about above? Nobody enjoys manually sending a bunch of different emails with different versions of a workbook!
Why Excel with Velixo
We know that Excel isn’t going anywhere. That’s why we built Velixo Reports, our Excel add-in that provides more than 50 functions that are specially designed to work with general ledger, project data, and generic inquiries. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why this matters for your finance team.
Skip the Export
Velixo allows you to query Acumatica ERP data right into your spreadsheet, sparing your team the burden of the manual export or copy-pasting process. The data will be up-to-date, and can be refreshed at any point with one click!
Velixo users enjoy a frustration-free experience thanks to our fast data extraction and in-memory calculation engine. To ensure fast and efficient generation of reports, we have developed our own proprietary data extraction and caching technlogy called Smart Refresh, which is at the heart of Velixo. The OData protocol is used to load the data and our own implementation of the protocol is used for maximum efficiency. Lazy-loading is employed to ensure that we only retrieve the data that is actually used in your report. For instance, there is no need to load data from a financial year or ledger that is not actually referenced in your formulas and calculations.
Drilldown to Source Data in Acumatica
If your accounting team is reviewing figures on their spreadsheets and need to audit the figures, they can easily use Velixo’s smart drilldown feature to get detailed insight into the data referenced in a calculation. You can drill all the way down to the original document in Acumatica ERP and review any note, activity or file attached to it. With Velixo, Excel is simply a user-friendly presentation layer for your data. Your ERP database still remains the single source of truth.
Easy to Distribute
After your financial statements are updated and prepared, they will typically be shared with others. If you are using Microsoft Outlook, Velixo’s Distribution List feature can help your team by automating this process. Simply create a new distribution list, list the recipients of your reports throughout the rows of the worksheet (including any file paths and shared storage locations), choose the file format, file name, and tab selection (if you are only sending one tab, or multiple tabs but not the entire workbook). Then you can add additional fields, such as branch name, to ensure that each recipient receives the data relevant to them.
After your distribution list is built, you can click one button and automatically send all your emails to the intended recipients, with their exact intended data, without leaving your workbook. Then you can use this same list again and again! See here for a short video on this distribution list feature.
Sometimes your accounting team will use Excel to create their budgets or perform the calculations for a complex allocation. Others in your organization, such as your sales and project team members, might use Excel sheets for quoting customers or building project forecasts. Unfortunately, someone still needs to go into the ERP and manually update those records. Velixo allows you to skip the duplicate entry by pushing data from Excel into your ERP with our four writeback functions. Click here to learn more.
Access Acumatica ERP via OData and the API is controlled by the same credentials used to login to the web browser or mobile application. Users must enter their username and password when opening a spreadsheet, or authenticate using single sign-on. The same access rights you set up for your users in the ERP will carry over to Velixo as well, ensuring your team will only be able to view the data you allow. Unlike other solutions, the data is never transferred to an external location since the connection is made directly between Excel and your ERP instance by using HTTPS (TLS 1.2).
Velixo also supports multi-factor authentication, and a user’s credentials are never stored as part of the file. In fact, when using the “Remember Me” feature, the password is encrypted using the Microsoft Data Protection API (DPAPI) and stored with the local Windows profile.
Velixo is a cost-effective, user-friendly, and secure alternative for your accounting team, and has the added benefit of reducing the questions and requests you have to field as CIO. If you would like to learn more about why over 900 customers are using Velixo to bring their ERP data to life in Excel, click here to schedule a demo.
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