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Scott's Add-ins organisation report template
Scott's Add-ins
Scott's Add-ins organisation report template

Scott’s Add-ins refresh Excel reporting


Excel’s role in management reporting is getting a boost from cloud add-ins developed in Ohio, USA.

18th Jan 2023
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Cincinnati-based Scott’s Add-ins do what the label suggests – when added to an Excel 365 spreadsheet they can import transactions and other data in Xero and QuickBooks cloud accounting systems for analysis and reporting.

The package of customised Excel functions is the brainchild of former enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems integrator and entrepreneur Scott Miller, who launched the company in 2019 after selling his previous business to Exact.

“I had some extra time, so I reached into the old idea jar and came up with an add-in to integrate Excel with an accounting package,” Miller said. His inspiration came from some CFO friends, who were always complaining about their accounting systems and reporting.

“I asked them what they did about it and they said they exported the data into Excel. And then their data changes and they have to do it again. These guys were living a miserable life doing this, so I decided to change it.”

The one constant in the reporting process they were not going to give up was their spreadsheets. “Excel is a blank canvas that they can use to create just about anything – beautiful financial interpretations for themselves, their clients or their boards of directors. What they don’t like is to get data into that and redo it time and time again. That doesn’t feed their creative process,” he said. 

In an early post called The P&L is dead, Miller argued that the usual outputs from double-entry systems were accounting artefacts that didn’t meet the entrepreneur’s need for digestible financial information. So he used the embryonic Scott’s Add-ins to create an operating report template (shown above) to fill that gap. 

Xero first

Microsoft Excel comes with a toolkit that lets people create their own customised functions. Miller and his neighbourhood software buddy Brad started playing with the kit to see what they could do with it. For a US-based outfit, QuickBooks was the obvious starting point, but Miller said Xero presented a more attractive alternative. 

“I just wasn’t satisfied with how the [QuickBooks] API was constructed and was more impressed with Xero’s API.” 

The Xero connectors made it relatively easy to interrogate the accounting ledger and retrieve information such as account code descriptions or totals. Because users already understand how to work with native Excel functions, it made using the add-in relatively painless, even if a lot of data warehouse work takes place to handle the queries and return the results to a spreadsheet cell. Miller subsequently overcame his initial resistance and launched Scott’s Add-ins with similar functionality for QuickBooks Online last year.

A spreadsheet side-panel built with the Excel toolkit also includes a Recalc button, which lets the user update their reporting model whenever they want. “Users might want reports on a weekly or bi-weekly basis,” said Miller. “We house all transactions by date, so they can look at any dates they like.”

After a successful market test at Xerocon 2019 in San Diego, the big game-changer came when Xero added the capability to connect multiple organisations to the same spreadsheet, Miller explained. “A lot of our customers have multiple organisations and want to do consolidations and compare the results. Those things are tough to do within the Xero product itself.”

Virtual CFO opportunity

Though management accountants helped Scott’s Add-ins break into the cloud accounting ecosystem, Miller and his team are shifting their focus to accountants in practice in 2023. 

“That ‘P&L is dead’ statement was pointed pretty firmly at the accountant community. Our friends in the accounting industry need to be aware of what’s happening technology-wise. There will be a point where the machines are doing the taxes. What are the accountant folks going to do? We want to provide an opportunity for them to be business advisers,” he said.

Within the existing customer base, many accountants are using the add-in in an outsourced CFO situation, he continued: “It’s a great trend for us. You’ve got this person working with 5–10 clients and you’re really looking to make a difference to the organisation in terms of monthly and quarterly reporting. The add-in is a great fit for these people – it allows them to shine and be creative and do great work.”

Miller contrasted his minimal Excel-based user interface to other cloud-based reporting tools. “Everybody has access to dashboarding programs like Spotlight. Five years ago, they were new and shiny. Now people scratch heads and say they’re not sure it’s a differentiator anymore – clients aren’t really looking at that. If you’ve got a chain of five restaurants and the client just wants to see labour and food costs all across the restaurants, now you’ve got something.”

Replies (2)

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By Rgab1947
19th Jan 2023 09:55

Pity there is nothing to work with Sage50.

My client refusing to go with a cloud based product (Sage50 cloud is not seen as a cloud product. Too difficult to work with it with the client as they are)

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Replying to Rgab1947:
By legerman
19th Jan 2023 12:23

Rgab1947 wrote:

Pity there is nothing to work with Sage50.

My client refusing to go with a cloud based product (Sage50 cloud is not seen as a cloud product. Too difficult to work with it with the client as they are)

Have a look at Onionrs. It allows you to extract data from Sage50 and present it in excel. It's a desktop program rather than cloud but it might be what you're looking for. I know the guy who owns it (through another forum) and he's very helpful.

Thanks (1)