Mistakes... I hate mistakes

Indi-Alana Jones & the Spreadsheets of Doom

August 30, 2011

Posted by Alana Smith, TeamCain

The 1st of September, Two-thousand eleven – Location: Peterborough, Ontario, Canada

I feel like I’ve been making my way through this number jungle for months. There are so many paths I could take, but I need to make sure I find the right one. As soon as I heard that a typical company spends over 290,000 hours creating spreadsheets, I dropped everything I was doing in order to try and find a solution. Throughout my travels, I discovered that there are over 400,000 human errors from manually created spreadsheets... mistakes.... I hate mistakes. On TeamCain’s online educational sessions, it was found that over 84% of the attendees downloaded or re-keyed their JDE data to Excel for at least some of their reporting... Yikes.

JD Edwards is a great ERP system. It is the peanut butter. Microsoft Excel is the jam. Over 94% of webinar attendees use Excel as part of their budgeting process. It can be argued that there is no greater combination than peanut butter and jam. But you can’t defy the laws of physics and have peanut butter and jam floating in mid-air. You need some sort of soft, fresh white bread to hold these two ingredients together. That is the quest I am on now... to find that bread. Maybe these are just the ramblings of a hungry anthropologist/historian/blogger... either way, there has to be a solution to combine the two together.

The other day, I met a lone soul on the side of the road. His eyes were red with exhaustion and his fingers were cramped in a claw-like way, as if is hands were constantly in that position. His tie was askew and he looked as though he may not have slept in days. I asked him what had happened to him. His story was that he was one of those employees who manually inputted data into spreadsheets in Excel. He said it was important that he complete these reports as they were vital to the company and they needed to be completed on a timely basis every month. He rarely ever left work on time as he was working hard to get the spreadsheets to his supervisor. When the reports were finally finished, he’d have to distribute them, which took even longer... then the cycle started over again.

Yesterday I ran into a young lady who also worked with spreadsheets on a daily basis. Her biggest problem was that she would spend hours making her spreadsheets appealing only to come in the next day to find her data was now inaccurate and out of date. She also had to frequently communicate with her friend in the IT department, who wasn’t able to work on his job as he had to deal with spreadsheet technical difficulties. This reminded me that over 74% of those who attended our webinars were at least partially dependant on their IT staff for reporting. This has motivated me to find a solution faster. This can’t be an efficient process for organizations.

But wait... What is that up ahead? It’s a tablet of some sort... it has writing, let me see if I can make it out:

“By implementing Spreadsheet Server, we've cut three days out of our financial month-end process, and countless trees have been saved... Spreadsheet Server has been a God-send... Our daily financial reporting is much simpler, and much more accurate and timely.”

Spreadsheet Server! Of course! I have heard of this technology before. As I recall, Spreadsheet Server is an innovative Microsoft® Excel add-in that allows users to access live JD Edwards’ data within Excel. Not only does it help to eliminate the time and errors that come with re-keying data, it combines reporting, drill down and ledger inquiry into one application. At last! This is what I have been searching for: a tool that will empower financial groups to create quicker, cleaner, reports themselves and have the bonus of automated distribution.

It looks as though I might be able to see this solution in action... there is more on the tablet:

“Come to a free live demo of Spreadsheet Server on September 13, 2011 at 2pm EDT”

I have found my next adventure, care to come along? ~ Indi-Alana Jones