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What do the majority of accountants use MS Excel for these days?

What do the majority of accountants use MS...

I'm just curious as to how (or if) other accountants use MS Excel, and what for, and if there are people out there who use MS Excel for the majority of functions...

I love Excel and would love to use it as the main software for accounting functions but having read the many articles on this site, it doesn't get mentioned much in relation to other software like Moneysoft or VT and so on, and especially with the relative success of cloud computing. Surely MS Excel can produce the same functions other software perform, right? I understand it would take a lot of work to engineer a spreadsheet into a high performance program so I just wondered if there are people out there who have managed to create custom books that do everything you need to do for your clients.

T

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25th Sep 2012 16:13

Everything except ....

.... letters and reports.

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25th Sep 2012 16:33

VT is based on Excel so you don't have to reinvent the wheel.

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25th Sep 2012 17:48

In my experience ...

... bespoke software outscores Excel at compliance work (compiling accounts, tax returns, payroll, filing the same, etc) but is rather cumbersome at planning work (what-if scenarios etc), at which the flexibility of Excel shines in comparison.

With kind regards

Clint Westwood

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By merlyn
25th Sep 2012 18:29

Right tool for the job

Bespoke software is usually great at what it does, Excel is good for playing the the raw data as you can bend it exactly as you like.

It's also very easy with Excel to play about and then drop the changes you have made and start again, with bespoke software if you start playing it is often very hard to rollback without causing system issues, especially when it's a multiuser system.

Of course it's better to query the data in SQL, Oracle etc, but most accountants wouldn't be allowed access to those systems so excel is their next best option.

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25th Sep 2012 18:45

I’ve had a love affair with Excel for many, many years.

We have bespoke spreadsheet solutions I’ve written for clients all based around a spreadsheet which –

Records salesRecords purchases (with nominal code look-up)Calculates VATProduces income & expenditure  itemised summary for imput into P&L / B.S.I recently added for one client a page which calculated his approximate running tax liability for the year to allow him to “save as he goes” for his tax bill.

I also produce final accounts, tax returns, and tax computations  on an excel template.

Letting clients lose on a spreadsheet based bookkeeping system is not a worry so long as you password protect everything except the basic imput cells that they need to access.

 

 

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By jeh
25th Sep 2012 19:46

Excel
Midlands would you make those spreadsheets available to non clients ..I have a couple of situations where they would be very useful but I never get round to setting spreadsheets up just for the one or two clients...

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26th Sep 2012 09:03

.

@jeh  -try VT it does much the same thing.

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26th Sep 2012 10:27

Thanks guys

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26th Sep 2012 12:00

"Letting clients lose on a

"Letting clients lose on a spreadsheet based bookkeeping system is not a worry so long as you password protect everything except the basic imput cells that they need to access" 

Luckily, most people do not know or bother cracking the pass word of a MS' products, but browsing through the net shows you how easy it to crack a password. Even a VBA password spreadsheet can easily be hacked. There are dedicated companies which sell password-cracking software.

No body so far has mentioned the "cloud " bit of excel. Ms is in the process of releasing cloud based excel, currently on a trail base. I have got one, but there is compatiblty issue with excel 2010. It woud be interesting to see if MS could come up with full version of excel 2010 in cloud version.

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27th Sep 2012 14:01

I just wanted to ask, I have used Excel for producing accounts but would like to use something like VT or TaxCalc etc.

I am new to this so what do you use for the Journals to enter into the final accounts system.  Do you create spreadsheets for say Bank Payments and then one for Bank Receipts etc etc etc.

Any ideas would be appreciated as all my clients use paper based records.

Thanks.

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to WhichTyler
28th Sep 2012 10:46

Excel

I use excel for 95% of our clients - using bank downloads into a "list" spreadsheet adding account codes, having a separate column for VAT and net. It can then do VAT returns if they pay VAT on cash basis.  By sorting and subtotalling on account code, I have bank summary to copy and paste into columnar TB. Journal entries are just another column in the TB. Then I have formulas going into the accounts and Corp tax computation.  Any change in the TB filters to accounts and corp tax comp.  I only use VT addin to Excel for ixbrl accounts, and HMRC software andMoneysoft for payroll.  Has worked very well

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27th Sep 2012 14:03

For those who just cannot manage 'proper' book keeping systems..

I set up a very simple 'list' spreadsheet template a while ago, basically just to record bank transactions and aiming to mirror the bank account. Half a dozen columns or so, no analysis columns necessay. Some clients have found this incredibly useful, and I have also found the format surprisingly useful in the accounts compilation stages.

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to sbayliss
28th Sep 2012 16:33

Spreadsheet

John Snowden wrote:

I set up a very simple 'list' spreadsheet template a while ago, basically just to record bank transactions and aiming to mirror the bank account. Half a dozen columns or so, no analysis columns necessay. Some clients have found this incredibly useful, and I have also found the format surprisingly useful in the accounts compilation stages.

 

Would you be willing John to send me a screen shot so I know how to set it up?

Thanks.  Simon.

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27th Sep 2012 14:51

i agree with john snowden

We also give out to clients spreadsheets for basic bookkeeping.

each month has bank account, credit card and p cash analysis.

a few check digits to ensure worksheets cast and cross cast

we spend less time on the basics and more time on added value

lovely jubbly

 

 

 

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By KH
27th Sep 2012 15:14

Excel for anything with numbers in it

I use Excel for anything with numbers in it, even in letters (I use a Mac, and have spreadsheets embedded into my letter templates, so just import whatever figures I need, and bingo!) ... and to all my clients I send out Excel templates into which they can just feed the bank statement data, either as csv file or whatever, or copy and paste, or even manually input the data from bank statements, and then all they have to do is give each transaction a code ... the codes, predetermined by me, and on a help sheet accompanying the spreadsheets, then analyse the data into strict double-entry bookkeeping.

Sure, errors can/do creep in, but most are trapped by controls and checks built into the spreadsheet template ... what it won't trap, though, is errors of coding, where, for example, a client codes a transaction as biz stationery, but in fact it is biz light & heat. But a simple column by column review generally picks up simple errors like this (e.g. a gas bill far too small, or 13 gas bills in a year, or two gas bills within a couple of days of each other, etc ... sure, this isn't foolproof, but what is?).

Same spreadsheet templates work for cash expenditure, but the controls and checks in the spreadsheets don't work for cash, only for bank data.

Since I have had these templates for years (set them up about 30 years ago after a client got done for fiddling) I've seen no reason to migrate to any other system. But then I am old-fashioned, have just discovered my name is Ken Howard (see "How to extract data from clients"), and loathe spending out money on even more software ... got far too much of it already! ... (software, that is, not money!)

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By abcaus
08th Feb 2013 04:12

excel can be used for sure

I use excel for billing, receipt and accounting of my firm.

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