What #SpreadsheetDay Should Remind Us About FP&A’s Future

For someone like Carrie Self, every day is Spreadsheet Day:

“So - you know how people say ‘I think, therefore I am?’ Well, I spreadsheet, therefore I am,” the Manager of FP&A at Alabama-based Tacala told us in an interview.

She’s not alone, of course. Vena has become “trusted by finance, loved by business” in large part because we made a bet early on that those in FP&A would move to data-driven decision-making more successfully if they could use the tool they know best. The fact that Spreadsheet Day exists at all is just further proof of how powerful a role Excel has played a role in empowering finance departments all over the world.

First established almost 20 years ago, Spreadsheet Day was conceived by Debra Dalgleish, creator of multiple Excel tutorials and a blog offering spreadsheet tips. This year’s Speadsheet Day is particularly special, she noted, in that it marks the 40th anniversary since the launch of Excel predecessor VisiCalc.

Download tips, tricks and inspiration for spreadsheet lovers from Vena's #SpreadsheetDay celebration page!

There’s little doubt, however, that it was Excel that became the de facto standard among finance, and that it continues to offer an onramp towards insight for business professionals of every kind. Just ask Etienne Lalonde, Senior Director of Information Services at Hexo Corp.

“I love spreadsheets because it provides an introduction to structuring data and understanding how data works,” he told us. “Anybody can pick it up and know how to structure data in rows and columns.”

That ease of use created an impact that only looks more impressive in hindsight. In an article published this past Spring on the BBC, for example, Tim Harford suggested FP&A as we know it today might not have existed without it:

“The spreadsheet created whole new industries. There are countless jobs in high finance that depend on exploring different numerical scenarios - tweaking the numbers and watching the columns recalculate themselves,” Harford wrote. “These jobs barely existed before the electronic spreadsheet.”

Vena customers sound off: Here's why finance pros love spreadsheets!

What Takes Spreadsheets (And Finance) Even Further

Of course, sticking with spreadsheets doesn’t mean the world of finance can remain frozen in time. Organizations across all markets are grappling with greater complexity than ever before as they try to analyze both financial and non-financial data and develop the right strategic direction.

That level of analysis demanded that Excel be paired with enterprise-grade database capabilities, along with on-demand access to critical compute resources. It’s why Vena was first to the cloud and the first to embrace Excel. For someone like Doug Vaughn, Director of FP&A, American Health Partners, it was a combination that made all the difference.

"We had this monstrous spreadsheet...it would take somebody the better part of a day to update with information from the GL,” Vaughn recalls. “With Vena, we've done away with that.”

This is important to remember as Spreadsheet Day 2019 arrives. This shouldn’t simply be a time to celebrate tools like Excel as though its glory days are far behind it. Instead, we should be thinking of Excel’s future, as the front end to FP&A software that transforms a business’s ability to adapt and thrive amid constant change.

Feel free to wish your colleagues a Happy Spreadsheet Day, in other words. Just don’t forget about what tomorrow could bring.

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