The first step to fixing any problem is first accepting that there is a problem, and as much as we hate to say it, our dependence on Excel is a problem.
Us accountants live, breathe and love Excel. It's versatile, easy to use, and a bathes our faces in a pleasing shade of green. But, while Excel is great for data manipulation, calculations and basic reporting... we're somewhat guilty of trying to jam any problem we come across into the "I'll just make a spreadsheet" hole. Finance teams will use Excel for monthly checklists, project management, tracking who is on leave, writing down key team deliverables, who is paying for coffee this week... we have pushed Excel to the edges, and it's time to admit it might not be the greatest fit for all our needs.
Face the facts: Excel should not be the only piece of software that accountants and Finance teams use to organise their work. We should be embracing specialised tools to help reduce our workload and overtime that occurs each month end.
For instance, every accountant and finance team will use Excel for the under-appreciated (yet absolutely essential) team checklist. Whether it is the ever-present month end task checklist, or your year end and finance statements checklist, or longer running projects and team priorities - if it is a list then we accountants will wedge it into Excel.
After all, Excel is familiar to us, and sometimes it is all we have at our disposal (why are we so scared to spend money on ourselves?).
But what might happen if we used the right tool for the right job? Excel won't tell us when a task was completed with date stamps, Excel can't provide a comprehensive audit log, Excel can't alert us of upcoming tasks, it won't chase the team for overdue tasks, it can’t roll itself forward from one month to the other (watch those holidays!). We're working around the fact that Excel doesn't do a lot of the things we need, blinded by our love for that familiar green glow.
Don't worry - we're not going to take away your Excel.
All we're saying is... maybe consider some checklist software made especially to be Really Great Checklist Software, and leave Excel for tracking the lunch kitty.