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Ultimate Excel finance guide

Expert and user advice on how to effectively manage corporate finance Excel use


Microsoft Excel has long been a trusty tool in the finance manager's arsenal. Excel spreadsheets are ubiquitous in the finance department and with good reason -- they're cheap, easy to set up and require no training.

But while spreadsheets will almost undoubtedly always have a home in finance, experts caution against relying on Excel too heavily. The downsides of using spreadsheets for finance processes include errors, incongruent data and limited governance. In smaller organizations, spreadsheets might be more readily managed, but the larger the company, the more problems spreadsheets introduce.

In this Excel finance essential guide, read what the experts say on Excel use in finance, and learn to recognize signs that it might be time to adopt alternative technology. Read case studies from companies that formerly depended on Excel for a major financial process, and discover how and why they scrapped the spreadsheets. Finally, get handy Excel tips to optimize day-to-day Excel finance use.

1Expert advice-

Problems with using Excel for finance

What's so bad about Excel, anyway? Although there's nothing inherently evil about spreadsheets, experts agree that using them for sophisticated processes they weren't designed to handle isn't a good idea -- and that's even with governance or spreadsheet management capabilities in place. The stories in this section examine the pros and cons (mostly cons) of corporate finance Excel use.


Excel not a proper replacement for financial management software

Although Excel 2013 has new spreadsheet management capabilities, experts still say using Excel in place of financial management technology isn't smart. Continue Reading


Excel finance use just barely viable with spreadsheet governance tools

Be warned: A user of spreadsheet governance software clarifies that viable isn't the same as desirable, or even good. Continue Reading


Top perils of corporate finance Excel use

Robert Kugel lists five major issues that can arise when finance departments use Microsoft Excel for processes it wasn't designed to handle. Continue Reading


Budgeting software or Excel: Which is right for your company?

Learn how your organization can decide whether to budget with Excel or with a larger budgeting software package. Continue Reading


Three reasons to stop budgeting in spreadsheets

Expert Hyoun Park reveals the signals that it's time to adopt dedicated software for the IT budgeting process instead of relying on Microsoft Excel. Continue Reading


Want to close the books faster? Don't use Excel

Users and experts agree that collaboration, automation and a defined schedule can optimize the financial consolidation process. Continue Reading


Managing Excel BI use akin to herding cats

Eradicating the use of Excel in business intelligence applications turned out to be a pipe dream in most organizations. Now the focus is on controlling it -- as best you can. Continue Reading


Consider these things before attempting CPM in Excel

Companies that try to use Microsoft Excel for corporate performance management will come up against its inherent limitations, writes one expert. Continue Reading


Excel automation tools don't prevent errors

Users say Excel automation tool Spreadsheet Server reduces manual data entry, but it doesn't nix Excel snags. Continue Reading

2Peer advice-

Moving from Excel to financial management applications

After grasping the true cost of using spreadsheets for major financial processes, finance leaders often decide to transition from Excel to financial management software. But determining what product to adopt and how to best implement it can open a new can of worms. In this section, find tips and advice from finance managers who have firsthand experience moving away from Excel to dedicated software, and learn what benefits their companies have reaped since making the switch.


NorthStar dumps Excel KPI display for Adaptive Discovery

Ease of use was a key consideration for NorthStar in its search for new budgeting software -- for operations managers, not finance users. Continue Reading


Host Analytics boosts firefighters association's data accessibility

Excel-related complaints included static reports and an inability to perform what-if scenarios. Continue Reading


Parsons Electric breaks its Excel dependency with cloud technology

After a careful selection process, Parsons Electric chose Host Analytics, a cloud CPM vendor, for financial management. Continue Reading


SaaS CPM coexists with Excel at retailer

The Container Store replaced Excel with Adaptive Planning corporate performance management software only where it had to -- budgeting, forecasting and reporting. Continue Reading


Automating business processes halts company's Excel reliance

After hitting the wall with Excel, a North Carolina rental company invests in analytics technology and finds value in business process automation. Continue Reading

3Excel tips-

Accounting and finance Excel tips

Although Excel shouldn't be the finance department's only technology, spreadsheets are still handy for certain processes. Bearing in mind that Excel isn't leaving the finance function anytime soon, the tips in this section can help finance managers, accountants and auditors optimize common tasks.


Use the MATCH function to find the next largest value

Microsoft Excel consultant Bill Jelen, aka MrExcel, walks readers through an exercise on using the MATCH function. Continue Reading


How to build a year-over-year report using a pivot table

Learn how to use a pivot table feature many Excel users aren't aware of. Continue Reading


Rank the top five customers in an Excel invoice register

Quickly generate a list of the top five customers in four steps. Continue Reading


How to use VLOOKUP in a range match

What's the purpose of the VLOOKUP where the fourth argument is TRUE? Continue Reading


How to add tick marks in Excel

MrExcel shows readers how to insert tick marks in spreadsheets step by step. Continue Reading


Getting Excel to act like an adding machine

Learn an Excel shortcut for entering numbers in thousandths that was inspired by adding machines. Continue Reading


Make summary worksheet zeros vanish

MrExcel demonstrates how to prevent zeros from showing up in a summary worksheet. Continue Reading

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