No Accounting for Taste ep 12: Spreadsheets, public speaking and tech

No Accounting for Taste
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Have spreadsheets had their day? Xero’s Gary Turner joins the AccountingWEB editorial team to discuss this as well as public speaking and the age-old battle: Windows vs Mac.

Spreadsheets have come under a lot of flak as of late. Support for the accountant’s favourite tool was not helped by the Conviviality’s £5.2m arithmetic error. But spreadsheet supporters railed against any whispers of the tool’s demise.

Spreadsheets are risky and mistake prone. But as a recent AccountingWEB article showed, they’re not going anywhere. But one person who disagreed was Xero’s Gary Turner.

 

Turner rebutted the durability of the beloved spreadsheet with business editor Francois Badenhorst, John Stokdyk and Richard Hattersley on the No Accounting for Taste podcast.

The pod then goes from presenting numbers on a spreadsheet to the art of presenting. The fear of public speaking is one of the most common phobias, but by becoming an effective public speaker can help accountants in both practice and business attract potential clients or present to the team.

Self-professed gadget-geek Turner talks desktop tech, inspired by an Any Answers thread which pitted Mac against Windows.

Later, editor Tom Herbert wires into the pod from Las Vegas where he reports on this week's SuiteWorld.  

Enjoy the podcast, and if you’d like more information on the stories discussed here are the links:

Top stories this week

To listen to the show click the play icon in the box at the top of this article, visit our Soundcloud page or subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

We hope you enjoy the show, and if you have any topics you'd like us to cover in two weeks' time please add them to the comments box below.

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By Ammie
27th Apr 2018 11:06

Like them or loathe them spreadsheets have been an accountants dream for years. Cheap and extremely effective.
I should imagine most errors arise from clerical mistakes and poor use.
On the other hand their use at the top end as a highly complex tool can be risky and perhaps alternatives are a more suitable option at that level.
I cannot see spreadsheets becoming obsolete, not any time soon anyway.

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27th Apr 2018 11:26

For basic book keeping they are invaluable. It is much easier to fix a mess on a spreadsheet than any software. Xero, sage etc are fabulous when used correctly, but a nightmare when not

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27th Apr 2018 11:26

I want to know what was wrong with clay tablets.

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27th Apr 2018 11:30

Anything that is not used properly will be risky. Human error is risky. Crossing the road is risky.
Sorry Gary but when you say "our love affair with spreadsheets is coming to an end" you're talking through your [***].

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27th Apr 2018 11:39

When I started on mainframes, back in the days of Fortran and the rest, thee was an old acronym which still applies today:

G I G O. Garbage In; Garbage Out.

Spreadsheets are one version of a database. An Interactive Database. are these going out too?

If you know what you are doing, as with all productivity suites, they may e customised, intensively, using Vbasic scripts. to create a specialised product.

Are accounting and bookkeeping products such as Zero as flexible?

Of course they are not!

Indeed, one of the sheer frustrations of ALL such packages is their "Functional Fixedness" as it is termed.

Windows v Mac?

When Apple computers generate a HUGE number of programmers creating various advanced business applications, then matters might change.

However, always remember, Steve Jobs majored on DTP and graphics: not business suites.

Personally, I might tale a tad more notice of Zero when it actually, as a business, makes a respectable profit!

http://www.afr.com/brand/chanticleer/xero-cheers-as-it-heads-for-profit-...

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By Rozzo52
27th Apr 2018 11:49

If you use the correct logic and build in check formulae into spreadsheets they can be a very powerful tool. I use pivot tables almost all the time to ensure that mistakes in adding up totals are virtually eliminated.If one learns how to use the Power Pivot tool available in excel one can always obtain information which Accounting systems are not capable of producing or providing. Accounting systems are always dependent on the quality of the data put into them. Using Macros and visual basic used in conjunction with accounting systems make spreadsheets a really invaluable tool for accountants. Many of the online accounting systems in the cloud use data input by non accounting people and business owners and I have seen that the quality of the data is often very poor and not logical because there are is no data validation built into these online accounting systems. If one has access to the database tables behind most accounting systems spreadsheets are really powerful tools available for accountants and indispensable providing underlying data is correct and this is always the case ,so spreadsheets are here to stay for accountants and the accounting and auditing profession..

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27th Apr 2018 11:48

As opposed to receipt scanning and self entry into an accounting system?

It's all based on the quality of the input. Rubbish in= rubbish out.

I have a number of clients that if they tried these new types of systems would leave me with four times the workload compared to the spreadsheets I can use.

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27th Apr 2018 12:01

Until cloud accounting software providers give us a decent set of reports and the ability to tailor them to our specific needs spreadsheets are going nowhere.

Also, for small jobs it is far quicker and cheaper to list out receipts on a spreadsheet then knock up a quick pivot table than mess around entering in a bookkeeping package or paying receipt bank to do it for you.

So as Ammie says, at the top level software better, but at the bottom end spreadsheets will live forever, even if just as a tool to feed into software.

That said, unless software providers give us tools to extract every possible permutation of report spreadsheets will be necessary to manipulate data to give management the specific analysis they need.

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27th Apr 2018 12:07

Our firm's client process spreadsheets are underpinned by the good old fashioned processes of double-entry and reconciliation - and the work a treat and are guaranteed accurate. We're also nearly complete with our Spreadsheet- API interface so we're on track for MTD being catered for as well....

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27th Apr 2018 14:11

Whilst I use cloud accounting ironically I now using my spreadsheet more and due to lack of activity screens and audits trails, spot the errors and reconciliation work.

The cloud software are horrendous with the limited items you can see on one page. It does my head in.

In my view spreadsheets are going nowhere.

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By Rozzo52
to sarah douglas
28th Apr 2018 09:41

Cloud computing is going nowhere until they figure out how to work both offline and online by sysncronising the data if you loose the internet. Most businesses are exposed to huge risks just look at all those fibre optic cabinets which are in plain view they even have stickers on them saying get your fibre optic here. What happens if they are damaged or vandalised the internet will be unavailable for months. The consequences for a small business could be very expensive.

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By ABS2
30th Apr 2018 23:12

As said above, garbage in, garbage out. Doesn't matter what platform you are using.
I have some clients who use a well-known cloud software product and others who use spreadsheets. Guess which one takes me longer to sort out, and it isn't the latter.

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01st May 2018 10:32

isn't it funny how life just runs through cycles....the answer to plastic....making the bottles returnable and a small payment in return (anybody born early in the 70s and before will recall a similar thing) - indeed the glass milk bottle which to be fair was on its last legs is now making a come back off the back of the push to reduce plastic.

So whilst the cloud maybe the answer for Gary and his buddies...the ever increasing threat of online viruses, hacking and date protection issues suggests that a stand alone computer with a spreadsheet may still yet make a major comeback (if we are to believe it is disappearing at near extinction rates).

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