BlackLine Blog

October 08, 2020

What’s Wrong With Spreadsheets?

Modern Accounting
2 Minute Read

Molly Boyle


Elizabeth Milne

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View the full series here.

In the last blog in this series, Thyra and I shared some of the funnier stories from our time performing Accounting solely with Excel spreadsheets. But what about the common challenges that everyone faces from using spreadsheets to perform and manage the close?

While some tasks and activities do make sense for spreadsheets, Excel is not always the best solution.

Improving Legacy Processes

This is certainly true for addressing inconsistent legacy processes. Whether you begin examining your current processes individually, by entity, or by a group within the organization, if you’re all using spreadsheets, you’re essentially starting from a blank sheet of paper.

This makes process improvement even more difficult, with an absence of best practices and risk of creating multiple versions of the truth. As a result, manual effort continues to persist, as do uneven workloads.

Spreadsheets also make it very difficult to see the big picture when an organization is trying to evaluate the roles and responsibilities of its workforce, because ownership is unclear and difficult to measure.

Reducing the Risk of Manual Errors

We’ve all experienced the bad copy/paste, circular reference, or formula that didn’t work the way we intended. All of the opportunities for human error within spreadsheets can result in poor work output.

This is definitely not for lack of effort on the part of accountants, but because the process is still inherently error-prone.

Excel is still better than getting out of a piece of green bar paper and a pencil, but these traditional manual accounting processes are not sustainable. And with technology available that has been purpose-built for Accounting and Finance, it’s time to make the move to modern accounting .

Modern Accounting for Modern Business

It’s amazing how far technology has propelled our business climate.

Yet, when it comes to back-office functions like Accounting, companies are underutilizing technology that provides significant value to the greater organization by way of real-time reporting and analytics.

Having a modern accounting tech stack is an invaluable resource—symbiotic with the human capital resources required to perform high-value strategic activities.

When accounting and finance professionals aren’t available to sit in on strategic meetings because they’re too mired in manual activities, the already challenging financial close is further exacerbated.

This type of ineffective resource management can have a direct impact on the organization’s P&L and contribute to lengthy and costly audits.

Working and moving beyond these legacy environments is something we can all aspire to.

When organizations decide to take advantage of purpose-built automation to standardize and centralize their accounting activities, they experience meaningful results that reduce the risk and opportunity for error, and also transform accountants into strategic assets for the rest of the business.

So, whether your aim is to maximize ROI, save hours, or repurpose people for more value-added activities, when you integrate modern accounting technology and processes into your routine, the ultimate outcome is a faster close with less manual effort.

Watch our National Spreadsheet Day on-demand webinar to hear more of my conversation with Thyra, and discover how digital transformation can further enable a far more strategic F&A organization.

About the Authors


Molly Boyle


Elizabeth Milne