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Four reasons your enterprise should start saying goodbye to spreadsheets in FY2025

  • Written by Rosie Cairnes, Regional Vice President Australia and New Zealand, BlackLine

Swapping this old school tool for finance automation technology brings with it a host of benefits.

Does your accounts team remain wedded to spreadsheets? Or perhaps they’re still using them because they’re the best – or only – tools for performing complex calculations to which they have access?

If yours is a typical Australian enterprise in the mid-market then, unfortunately, the answer to the latter question is likely to be ‘yes’.

While finance technology continues to evolve at a rapid clip, many businesses in this space remain behind the eight ball when it comes to adopting it.

That’s despite the obvious advantages it can deliver.

Cloud-based continuous accounting software, for example, enables businesses to automate repetitive processes, eliminate bottlenecks at end of period and create a culture of continuous improvement. It’s a productivity super-charger that makes it possible to keep overheads down and output up.

Legacy on-premises accounting solutions and old school spreadsheets? Not so much. A solution they may be but they’re no longer the best one for finance departments that are required to carry out more than rudimentary calculations and modelling, or provide decision makers with timely, accurate financial data.

Here are four reasons why minimising their use should be a priority for your organisation in FY2025.

You won’t retain top talent if you don’t

Newsflash to decisions makers who might choose to tell themselves otherwise: The current crop of up-and-coming finance professionals don’t want to do repetitive spreadsheet work. They’ve spent several years studying at university and they want to use the expertise they’ve acquired to perform strategic, value-adding work, such as producing in-depth analyses and explanations of exceptions and variances.

Digital natives one and all, they know there are automated software platforms that can take care of the manual and semi-manual number crunching that, historically, was the accountant’s lot.

And if the organisation that employs them isn’t prepared to prioritise innovation by investing in those technologies, they’ll, sooner rather than later, defect to one that does.

Given Australia’s current shortage of accountants – described as ‘critical’ by CPA Australia chief executive Andrew Hunter in late 2022 – finding quality candidates to take their places is likely to prove a challenge, should that occur.

Errors will be reduced

Accountants are only human and humans inevitably make errors, however diligent and careful they may strive to be. When those errors occur within spreadsheets, courtesy of a transposed or mis-typed figure or several, the repercussions can be significant. Think inaccurate calculations, journal entries and financial statements, and incorrect payments.

Rectifying such mistakes can be time consuming and costly. So can the consequences of decisions made off the back of inaccurate financial data.

It’s a problem finance departments that have gone down the continuous accounting route no longer have to face, given the technology allows them to reduce their error rates to close to zero.

Inefficiencies will be eliminated

Doing things manually in a spreadsheet can be laborious. Extracting data from multiple sources, aggregating it, executing formulae, colour coding… Delays can ensue – in the analysis and investigation of decisions, in reporting to business leaders, stakeholders and investors and in forecasting and forward planning.

Conversely, drawing on the power of automation can enable your organisation to perform the most complex of calculations accurately and almost instantaneously and achieve up-to-minute visibility into every aspect of its finances.

Finance overheads will be contained

Here in Australia, remuneration for skilled staff is high, and rightly so. Accountants earn between $70,000 and $90,000 a year, on average, according to Seek, although individuals with more experience, or specialist expertise, command significantly more.

A heavy reliance on manual processes means organisations need to employ more of these well-paid professionals, if essential accounting tasks are to be completed on time.

Switching out the spreadsheets for an automated alternative makes it possible to do more with less.

Organisations that do so will also see significant savings on the recruitment and training front. Staff churn decreases when accountants are relieved of the burden of repetitive manual tasks and empowered to do more interesting, high-level work that adds genuine value to the enterprise.

Starting the new financial year strong

Australia is experiencing challenging economic times and optimising operations is essential for organisations that hope to maintain productivity and profitability. If getting the finance team working faster and smarter is a goal for your enterprise in FY2025, it’s time to switch from spreadsheets to the continuous accounting technology that will make it possible.


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