Spreadsheets: just say no!

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The use of spreadsheets for building systems to plan, budget and report have clear limitations, reports Rod Newing.

“To optimise your business performance management processes, you just need to say ‘no’ to spreadsheets, as they limit you.”

This is the message that Brian Rumbles, a director of Clear Plan, has been giving to business people when he outlines his eight best practices for better planning, budgeting and forecasting.

Clear Plan is the only dedicated European partner of Adaptive Planning, a cloud-based planning, budgeting and forecasting service.

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15th Jul 2011 12:02



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15th Jul 2011 14:02


Could you provide examples of organisations that have ditched their spreadsheets?

I would love to hear of just ONE company that has done this in their finance department and what systems they are using, because I am yet to come across any organisation that is 100% spreadsheet free.

Unless you can provide case studies of how people make the change it's always going to be an uphill battle.

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By sluglet
15th Jul 2011 14:52

Definite gobbledegook

I tried putting this article into Google translate to see if I could translate it into plain English. Unfortunately it doesn't have a gobbledegook option. Has anybody got any other options?

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15th Jul 2011 15:05

Alternative to Gobbledegook...


...Just stick to your spreadsheets!

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15th Jul 2011 15:13

Translation not needed...

 Yeah - google translate couldn't even figure out which language it was in...

However, having spoken to a linguistic expert I know, I've been told that the article doesn't even speak about ditching spreadsheets. The longwinded point seems to be that a spreadsheet in itself is not a holy grail of business management - but that you actually have to use your head as well.

Apparently, in order to plug your consultancy business properly these days you have to make simple conclusions sound incredibly clever and insightful.

Funnily enough my lingustic expert is also a spreadsheet expert and said for each paragraph of the article "hey, I could make a spreadsheet for that!"... Go figure...

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15th Jul 2011 17:29

I went to sleep after the 1st sentence.

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15th Jul 2011 18:04


What is the connection between "Rumbles" comment, and the headline message??? 

The article reads like a sales pitch for a product or service he's looking to promote, but hasn't identified what that is.  Nothing in the article challenges the value of spreadsheets as used by accountants and it doesn't even begin to outline the potential risks and weaknesses that unwary spreadsheet builders and users might be exposed to.   Not much of a contribution to the debate that could be constructive.


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15th Jul 2011 22:29


wow... and I thought Snakeoil was dead...!  You just have to re-invent the vocab and jargon...!  Unbelievable that such rubbish can actually APPEAR..There is no hope... sighs..



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16th Jul 2011 09:01

The rules are fine

(if I have translated them into English correctly) but I still don't see why you can't do this with a spreadsheet instead of whatever expensive software is about to be promoted.

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16th Jul 2011 09:54

One of the major issues...

Is that accountants do all of their mini-analyses in Excel. Then they want to build on this preliminary work, so they just create a new sheet and link the outputs accordingly.

It's just too easy and convenient NOT to do it, and everyone can understand 'how the spreadsheet works' by a few formula reviews.

Every single business is different and wants to calculate different things in different ways.

No software can be all-encompassing, hence just stick to best practice principles and techniques when using spreadsheets, such as using checksums.

For more info on using checksums in financial modelling please see my article published in AccountingWEB:-


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22nd Jul 2011 10:48

Mea culpa

If the article is too jargon-laden, that's my fault for letting it through without more vigourous editing to make the points clearer.

The headline, too, is a bit of spin that was added to try and attract more readers. We were perhaps not confident enough that people would click through to read "Eight things you can do to make planning and budgeting more effective". It also wouldn't have fit within the space we usually allocate for headlines.

However the article is pretty clear about where the advice comes from and what Brian Rumbles is selling - he presented his ideas at a seminar where he extolled the virtues of the online Adaptive Planning system, which is clearly identified at the beginning of the article. I sent the writer Rod Newing along to cover the event because we thought that someone with first-hand experience of novel technology systems might have something interesting to say about traditional accounting activities.

I feel that was the case, but must apologise for not doing more to render Brian's concepts into slightly more accountant-friendly terminology. Stung by your criticisms, we'll make sure that we take more care with the further articles we are planning around these common number-crunching and reporting activities.

John Stokdyk, Editor, AccountingWEB.co.uk

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