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AFP Guide to Excel for FP&A: Executive Summary

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AFP ® GUIDE TO Making Excel Work for You FP&A Guide Series Underwritten by Excel is a tool that every FP&A professional is very familiar with. Some use it for nearly everything, while others largely eschew it in favor of other programs. But there have been advances in Excel in recent years that many financial professionals may not know about. In an upcoming FP&A guide, underwritten by Vena, we will look at how Excel has evolved over the years, as we speak with multiple practitioners—some who are true Excel evangelists and some who only use it sparingly. We will examine the spectrum of ways to apply Excel, including recent advances, add-ins and third-party tools, to help you get the most out of this ubiquitous application. • FP&A professionals can apply Excel to a multitude of tasks, including financial modeling, visualization, data analysis, data storage, textual and quantitative data, and regression/ statistical analysis. • Excel is flexible; while dedicated FP&A systems are ideal for very specific areas, Excel allows practitioners to tackle a throng of different responsibilities in a fairly inexpensive, intuitive platform. • In recent years, Microsoft has added many new tools in Excel that practitioners can use for connecting to, modeling, visualizing, and collaborating on data. • Like anything, Excel is not an ideal solution to every problem. FP&A practitioners sometimes require more complex tools, particularly around data analytics and warehousing. • Taking a hybrid approach to Excel via additional tools or third-party software can make up for some of Excel's shortcomings, such as a lack of enterprise-grade FP&A security, control and collaboration. • For practitioners who wish to go beyond Excel to build their own programs, it may be worth learning languages like R and Python. Even though Excel has become the universal language of business, many finance professionals are not even scratching the surface of its potential. Recent advances have made Excel much more efficient, and practitioners would be wise to do their research and see if any enhancements or additional software might ease their Excel frustrations. So be on the lookout for AFP's new FP&A Guide on Excel, which releases on April 10. You already know that Excel works—now is the time to make it work for you.

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