Is Excel Hurting Your Business?

BY Liberty Technology Advisors | June 18, 2020

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Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet software that every American has heard of and every data processing software wants to be. It is a product that was invented in 1987 and quickly stole the show from Minitab and Lotus 1-2-3. There are over 750 million users worldwide (Cocking, 2017). Let’s get real, many excel users were born after its invention. Recruiters have long set this idea that Excel is one of the top skills they are looking for on a resume and over 80% say it is a requirement for middle-skilled jobs (Formby, 2017). None of this information is groundbreaking, we already know Excel runs the world. But at Liberty Technology Advisors, we cringe when we hear the word.


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As a millennial, I wanted to make sure I knew how to do everything in Excel before I received my degree because that was the skill, I knew I needed. In 2007 I was sitting in my first Information Systems course and the professor blasted Technologic by Daft Punk from his brand new cell phone that was called an iPhone and then proceeded to teach us about this great website called Woot! One of my brave peers decided to ask when we were going to learn how to use Excel and SAP…the professor yelled “in your first internship!” Talk about mass disappointment. Although the professor proceeded to explain that technology was developing rapidly, and it was pointless for him to teach hard skills because they would be out of date within two years. We couldn’t even envision how much technology was going to advance.

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Amazingly not many people are still using their 2007 cell phones, but we are still using Excel. Excel earned its place by being a powerful and flexible tool that companies could afford, and employees could quickly learn. It’s adaptable, it can be as clean or messy as a user needs and can give information to the statistician, engineer, and accountant at the same time. Its features are amazingly advanced and basic at the same time. So why would I declare it bad for business?

At Liberty Technology Advisors, if you tell our consultants that you use Excel, we have sirens and red flags going off in our minds. We do not boast about our skills. We cringe when you mention it, why? It’s powerful, it’s risky, there’s no audit log. You are one intern’s click away from deleting all of your corporate financials. One missed formula inconsistency and your inventory is forever off. Most importantly Excel is NOT AN ERP! Excel is a stopgap to try to fix and mash all of your problems into one system. Excel is NOT A SYSTEM!

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Our consultants have dealt with a lot of $50+ million companies that are using Excel for all of their accounting, inventory, and purchasing. According to Forensic CPA, Daniel Schneider, using Excel negates most internal controls that companies put in place and increases your fraud risk exponentially by allowing users to manipulate any and all data without regard to how it may affect other areas of the business. If your company is running primarily on Excel, it is time to evaluate why your ERP system is not doing the job anymore.

Liberty Technology Advisors has worked with Greene Forensic Accounting Solutions LLP in the past to assist companies with assessing their information technology systems, create information technology strategy plans, identify potential IT-related losses, interim CIO services, PMO, and implement new control processes.

Daniel Schneider is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Fraud Examiner, and Certified Internal Auditor. He has consulted on a multitude of both internal and external fraud examinations for real estate, construction, and insurance, specializing in forensic accounting procedures and litigation support. He has helped clients with business risks, implementation of effective controls and compliance processes, and identifying better practices while assisting with reducing the cost of operations and realizing process improvement opportunities.

Amy Schneider is the Accounting and Human Resources Manager at Liberty Technology Advisors. Her background includes consulting on projects related to Data Analytics for Global Investment Banks, Contract Lifecycle Management, and Project Management within the Technology and Engineering industries.

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Cocking, S. (2017, December 13). Seven Reasons Why Excel Is Still Used By Half A Billion People Worldwide. Retrieved from Irish Tech News: https://irishtechnews.ie/seven-reasons-why-excel-is-still-used-by-half-a-billion-people-worldwide/?__cf_chl_jschl_tk__=f4ca18f003ff77896a6295dced6cee61ba5401de-1591316250-0-AdkOWPo2yhNYMW4zZJZ8anedENvVMPBbV-BI9lGv_GEod3ZtVkAbNKLAgBoOb6i3iGQRjOojN1iTSsUFw7

Formby, S. (2017, May). Retrieved from Microsoft Excel®: Is It An Important Job Skill for College Graduates?: https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1140801.pdf

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