6 signs you need to graduate from spreadsheets...

17th Dec, 2019

6 signs you need to graduate from spreadsheets... (and what it means to be a business modeller).

Being a 'financial spreadsheeter' and a 'business modeller' are two extremely different approaches to managing financial data and performance. The simple difference between the two is that financial spreadsheeters use spreadsheet software, and business modellers use business modelling software.

There has been a long history and comfort in spreadsheet software in businesses but as technology and processes advance, the small flaws in spreadsheet software grow larger and larger. While sinking endless hours fixing broken links, creating unique and complex spreadsheets, and creating reconciliations based on multiple sources, you may start to wonder if there are quicker and more effective alternatives. The short answer: yes, there is - business modelling software.

Understandably, there may be a logical aversion to change. If you are used to using spreadsheet software, there very well could be a discomfort with the idea of transitioning from spreadsheet software to business modelling software. So to make this process a bit easier, here are a few signs that may help you realise it's time to graduate from spreadsheets:

Being a spreadsheeter means:

  1. Constantly being locked out of your spreadsheets which desperately need updating because Bill from marketing has left it open on his workstation when he left for lunch.
  2. Powering through your work with manual processes, and some dodgy VBA macros. Extra time is spent in a zombie-induced haze with constant data-entry and repeat copy and pasting.
  3. Using extra keystrokes, and mouse-clicks instead of macros - that admittedly does build up individual finger strength (if not strain).
  4. Lack of integration support in spreadsheeting software means the herculean process of manually navigating numerous amounts of systems to collect data.
  5. Often being pressured into making quick surface fixes, instead of comprehensive solutions for issues. Some hard-coding here or there, forceful balancing on a SUM formula, and edited reconciliation of expected numbers may be necessary to meet tight deadlines.
  6. Tight deadlines are constantly recycled with manual routines taking up laborious amounts of your days or weeks to roll forward spreadsheets that will visually appeal for the intended users. Not enough time is spared for in-depth scenario testing, and analysis of trends and contingencies.

Now, graduating into a financial modeller role means you are geared towards the following advantages:

  1. Utilising data modelling software instead of spreadsheet software such as Excel.
  2. Focusing on model automation - being able to build a model once, and have it automatically adjusted for use over every day, week, month or year.
  3. Being set on efficiency, and developing intuition in minimising mouse usage, and maximising shortcut keystrokes, to make sure time is devoted to doing the best job possible.
  4. Documenting models in a simple and clear manner so that any other person can independently follow and validate business logic with ease.
  5. Going above and beyond to streamline the updating process of spreadsheets so that crucial time can be spent on scenario and impact analyses based on changes to drivers. Recognising model outputs will never be 100% accurate, but want to have a comprehensive coverage of all possible outcomes to mitigate risk. As a result, using whichever macros and simulations possible to minimise risk and error.
  6. Proactively making work as efficient and consistent as possible, deploying strategy, fixes and formulas that minimise errors and does the job effectively. Balance sheets must always balance on their own without manual interference; otherwise, the job isn't done.
  7. Creating models based on a secure and simply structured foundation. Complexity is minimised and applied as needed so that anyone who needs access to the data can get to their relevant streams of information without hassle.
  8. Understanding that the first models may contain errors so that work is made to actively reconcile and fix the mistakes on a fundamental level; with error trapping, reporting and flagging within the model so that it is properly accounted for. Peer reviews will also be sought to further minimise errors, from an outside point of view.
  9. Taking pride in the presentation of models. It is kept tidy, clean and fresh for any user to seamlessly breeze through the information.

Graduation Notice:

The unfortunate fact of life is that there are an overwhelmingly greater proportion of spreadsheeters in the world than there are modellers. However, there is hope; there are many tools available to expand one's modelling capabilities so they can see the light of being a modeller. From millions of Googlable material to Youtube channels, conferences, research, and general common sense locations, vital knowledge can be sourced. Gathering the courage and wisdom to evolve into a modeller is a necessary step in business, especially due to the fact that efficiency and agility are quickly becoming mandatory skills to survive in the modern market. If you are a spreadsheeter who wants to become a modeller, don't wait! It's far easier than you may think, all the necessary skills and beyond can be quickly acquired and simplified with MODLR. The MODLR team will help you thrive, and deliver you a graduation notice from being a spreadsheeter to a modeller in a heartbeat. Thrive using MODLR, sign up here or contact us here.

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