Save content
Have you found this content useful? Use the button above to save it to your profile.
No Accounting for Taste

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

27th Apr 2018
Save content
Have you found this content useful? Use the button above to save it to your profile.

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.


Replies (10)

Please login or register to join the discussion.

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.

Thanks (0)
By why always me
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

Thanks (1)
By anthonystorey
27th Apr 2018 11:26

I want to know what was wrong with clay tablets.

Thanks (0)
By johnjenkins
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 [***].

Thanks (0)
By Michael C Feltham
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!

Thanks (0)
By Ian McTernan CTA
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.

Thanks (0)
By Smokoe Joe
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.

Thanks (0)
By peemonaghan
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....

Thanks (0)
Sarah Douglas - HouseTree Business Ltd
By sarah douglas
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.

Thanks (0)
By justsotax
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).

Thanks (0)