Management reporting: Is there an alternative to Excel?
Excel has become the software Swiss Army Knife of accounting, but Patrick O’Bierne started a stampede in our ExcelZone discussion group when he asked what other solutions people used to automate and rationalise monthly reporting.
O’Bierne (aka Excel author and EuSpRIG stawart sysmod) described the typical scenario that faces many accountants: every month they have to download data from a variety of databases (accounts, sales and so on); they then spend days copying, pasting, sorting, filtering and manually re-classifying data to get it into the shape they want. Then someone will want to see a different view, so for a set of accounts structured in 4-4-5 periods, one department might want to see reports by calendar month, while another wants 13 four-weekly periods. Or one consumer may want an analysis based around different groupings than the main chart of accounts.
There are data query tools such as the popular Crystal Reports, but in O’Beirne’s view “that just gets the data”. What working accountants need is something to automate the slicing and dicing. How to people cope in the field, he wondered.
As might be expected, the question attracted numerous suppliers of Excel reporting tools and Add-ins.
AccountingWEB members can help clarify the issue by putting forward their real-world experiences and reporting techniques in comments on this article, or in the ExcelZone discussion group.
If this is a topic that continues to cause you problems, the following AccountingWEB materials can help:
- An introduction to Excel-driven reporting tools (2006)
- Improve your reporting skills with self-teach tutorials
- Want to learn about Excel pivot tables? Start here
- Subscribe to the monthly ExcelZone eBulletin (registered members can click the My Subscription link in their Profile panel, above left).