Towards Spreadsheet Management

I follow quite a few Hyperion related blogs. Years ago there weren’t too many of them but now I’m quite pleased to be able to follow dozens of them with my RSS reader of choice. The other day I read an article posted by Edward Roske titled “7 Signs Your EPM Is Lagging Behind Your Competition”. Edward has been working with Hyperion for a long time and runs one of the more well known consulting firms, so he has seen quite a bit. And his thoughts are insightful. While I was reading through the article I couldn’t help but read it with a “Dodeca colored lens”, if you will.

For example, one of the signs is that strategy is planned verbally or in spreadsheets. The interesting thing here is that the spreadsheet modeling paradigm itself is a robust and essential. Where things go sideways is with how the files themselves are managed (and mismanaged).

For example, consider a typical analyst or a power user analyst that creates a spreadsheet: some pulls from Essbase, perhaps some relational data pasted in, some formulas, multiple tabs, formatting, and all that fun stuff. So far so good (well, not really, but let’s say it is). Now they email it out. Some feedback comes in from the CFO. Now the sheet Profitability Q3 2016 becomes something like Profitability Q3 2016 – Revised. More feedback comes in. More meetings. Now it’s Profitability Q3 2016 (2). Teresa down the hall needs a copy, so the analyst copes it to the LAN. Teresa makes some changes but the analyst has a lock on the file, so she saves Profitability Q3 2016 (2) – Teresa. I’ve seen some pretty heinous file management in my time.

This is an all too common scenario in the world of spreadsheets. Things get ugly quickly. And this is to say nothing of links across tabs and sheets and a host of other bad practices that make the situation even more error prone and hard to manage.

Another sign from Edward’s blog is that Excel is the key enabling technology in your FP&A department. I agree completely with the sentiment here. Note that Excel is specifically mentioned – not the spreadsheet paradigm itself. Excel as the enabler of FP&A is yesterday; the flexibility of spreadsheets combined with the power of Essbase is tomorrow.

Some of Edward’s other points such as there is only one version of the budget and budgets favor precision over timeliness are also spot on in terms of their accuracy.

Enter Dodeca

To reiterate from the beginning of this post, I couldn’t help but read this blog article while thinking about Dodeca. It’s because Dodeca takes all of the best things about spreadsheets: their power, their expressiveness, their familiarity to so many finance users, leverages the power of Essbase, leverages data from relational databases, and marries it all up in one cohesive interface. It’s saving numerous people and companies a lot of time: time that is not spent laboriously refreshing report decks, time that is not spent copying files around, time that is not spent emailing files, time that is not spent posting things to SharePoint or the LAN, and even a fair bit of time on end-user training.

I’m really looking forward to this year’s Kscope in Chicago. There are multiple presentations by Applied OLAP customers on how they built solutions with Dodeca while increasing productivity and reducing risk. And of course, we at Applied OLAP will have a booth. Please swing by and say hello!



3 thoughts on “Towards Spreadsheet Management

  1. You missed the very best in file and version management.



  2. I *almost* asked for people to post their heinous file names but as always, you have my back_2016_Newest_(For Real)_JJ – Revised.xlsx

  3. […] talk about spreadsheet management.  He has some great thoughts on how spreadsheets themselves are not necessarily the problem, but […]

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