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From MS Excel to ERP: Enterprise Data not User Data.

2 Minutes Read

How did we get to this point?  I find it surprising how many companies operate from critical information stored in MS Excel.  Double edged sword – MS Excel is arguably one of the widest used software products in the world.  It’s great for gathering, organizing, sorting and analyzing YOUR data. Millions are familiar with it and are capable of quickly working up spreadsheets.  But on the flip side, its widely mis-used too. We know that MS Excel files are normally created for the benefit of the creator. Not necessarily for the benefit of the COMPANY.  People often say “I have that on a spreadsheet”…but do they ever say “which is well documented, available on a common drive, with controlled access, audited for changes, has validated data, checked by quality control…..”??

Recently we helped move a client to an ERP.  Their Bills of Material were all in MS Excel and created by an individual who was unaware of how to do Excel formulas.  I’ll spare the details on entry errors from reading a value off a calculator.

MS Excel is both a personal and a very manual program.  It’s a mistake for a company to retain critical information in complex spreadsheets.   If the "Excel Hero" is MIA, there’s a good chance of uncaught errors that aren’t understood.  Purpose built ERP software systems give control, validation, and trust in reporting.  Once properly deployed, intuitive user interfaces allow you to extract data with high confidence. 

MS Excel often relies on manual entry.  A well vetted ERP report capitalizes on automation and integration to avoid duplication errors.  It presents real numbers. MS Excel, unfortunately, relies heavily on correct and well understood user input. There are a plenty of opportunities for human error.  In contrast, structured ERP is just that – structured.  https://www.zdnet.com/article/excel-errors-microsofts-spreadsheet-may-be-hazardous-to-your-health/ 

An ERP system like SAP Business One comes pre-populated with hundreds of reports and analytical capabilities.  Building MS Excel from exported data can take extensive set-up manipulation, and re-formatting.  And by the way – this will be repeated over and over again to constantly update and refresh the spreadsheet.

One of the numerous advantages of ERP software is the ability to easily analyze consumer behavior and data.  Or, to have the system notify you!  Changes to ERP data are in real-time, allowing those who need to know what’s changed to see and act. In contrast, before any MS Excel based information can be shared, the file must be populated, modified, converted, saved, and emailed.

Managing your information flow is very important.  Ideally, this management results in your business running more efficiently with less wasted time. Using an ERP software system, you re-act to customer demands with real-time information. If the sales of a product are down significantly, the ERP will pro-actively show this quickly when it occurs. Meanwhile, an MS Excel file will be delayed, waiting for the creator to do something.

MS Excel has its uses, but so does ERP.  Ready to upgrade to a great ERP? Contact Acuity today.

Joseph Timmins