Excel rules. This is the one law and will be the one law.

It's been something like that ever since Excel supplanted Lotus 1-2-3 as the spreadsheet of choice. Excel has been the universal tool and the multi-purpose tool. It is used everywhere. It is used for everything from budgeting to forecasting, to keeping tables that should be saved in database applications. It gets used for analysis and graphics.

And the use of Excel has thwarted the more general acceptance of products designed to handle budgets and forecasting. Users know Excel and they don't want the financial and mental expense of learning another package.

A change has been in the air in the last two years as other software companies have realized they must live with Excel, not try to replace it. Accountants, in particular, are not going to cut the spreadsheet umbilical chord.

Companies like CCH have made a worksheet view available in ProSystem fx. Those that market budgeting, forecasting, and business intelligence software are following the same theory.

Previously, the budgeting applications have had a tough time because operating them required users to learn another application, while they were still doing much of their budget calculation Excel. It was the same with business intelligence applications, which had an added burden. The full-featured ones were high end and too expensive for mid-market businesses. The affordable ones lacked features.

That has changed in the last couple of years. Adaptive Planning has a spreadsheet-like interface. The name of SAP's XL Reporter, a reporting tool for Excel-based budgeting, speaks for itself. A similar naming approach came from Business Objects last year when it introduced Xcelsius, which also provides a reporting tool for Excel-based budgeting.

This doesn't presage mass adoption of budget software, or the forecasting and analytical packages that have increasingly similar functionality. Users are too wedded to their spreadsheets.

But it will make the switch easier. And it will ensconce Excel in business more strongly than ever.

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Accounting Today content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access