If you’ve been reading the Wall Street Journal recently, there’s been a lot of commotion over a topic familiar to finance professionals: Microsoft Excel. What seemed to be a straightforward article about organizations veering away from the personal spreadsheet software quickly devolved into chaos, with tirades from finance professionals around the world in response to the article.
“You Can Have My Excel, After You Ripped It from My Cold, Dead Hands”
These words came in response to an Adaptive Insights tweet sharing the Wall Street Journal article, aptly titled Stop Using Excel, Finance Chiefs Tell Staffs. This summed up the surprisingly abrasive response to the article, with others referring to Excel as “[the] Bible in financial services” calling the initial article an “advertorial puff piece,” and sending other disparaging comments to the author and anyone who shared it.
“They’re Realizing the Old Way Of Doing Things Needs To Change”
The quote above came from Microsoft Office 365 General Manager Jared Spataro, who implied that professionals aren’t getting the agility and speed they need if they exclusively use the software. Even “Mr. Excel,” Bill Jelen, added that “nobody should be doing anything 100% in Excel.”
These quotes were found in a Wall Street Journal follow-up to the original article, documenting Excel use at major companies, and discussing additional dangers that exist when employees push back against technological advances and highlighting the lengths some people went to for their beloved spreadsheets:
- The CFO Crackdown: Jason Balogh, a principal with consulting firm the Hackett Group, told us a story about the CFO of an electrical-power company who invested $175 million on a new financial software system. To make sure it stuck, Mr. Balogh said, the CFO had to resort to asking his IT department to track Excel use by his finance team.” The CFO would then track down people who eschewed the new system.
- Ignoring a Quarter–Million Dollar Treasury Implementation: Daniel Blumen, a treasury management consultant in Naperville, Ill., said he was astonished to find that one of his clients in the solar industry had bought a treasury management system that likely cost more than $250,000 but had never properly implemented it. The company was using an Excel spreadsheet to track several hundred million dollars in letters of credit.
These are just some of the horror stories discussed in the article, and you can view more here.
Are You Passionate Enough about Excel to Lose Your Job?
“There’s a Red Badge of Courage that people wear when they stay up all night and work a spreadsheet to get something that they think is unique and artisanal.” However, with high profile errors costing people their jobs, the real question is this: Are you passionate enough about having this “Red Badge of Courage” to lose your job? Where do you draw the line between courage and stupidity?
If 88% of spreadsheets have some kind of error, the odds are not in your favor, and it’s only a matter of time. If you think you’re being coy when you say, “You can have my excel, after you ripped it from my cold, dead hands,” you’re welcome to calculate the value of your unemployment benefits in a spreadsheet.
Make 2018 the Year You Resolve to Stop Your Spreadsheet Habit
Excel is not a business software. It’s great for personal productivity, it’s able to handle your horse handicapping, and you can even use it to project your stock picks. However, there comes a time when the risks start to outweigh the rewards.
At rinehimerbaker, we have helped companies to break their spreadsheet addiction, quell their QuickBooks cravings, and to “just say no” to servers. As a trusted Sage Intacct partner in Florida and throughout the Southeast, we can help you too. Learn more about breaking the spreadsheet habit here, and contact us for a free demo of leading cloud accounting and finance software, Sage Intacct.