The goal of IT systems, be it a CRM, ERP, HR, Accounting, or any other system, is to cover your entire business process. Ideally, all tasks should be done within the system or a group of integrated systems in order to streamline and centralize your operations.
The abundance and ubiquity of Excel in your workplace is a telltale sign that there is still something your system/s cannot do. The fact that most IT systems have an “Export to Excel” function further highlights the necessity of Excel.
Wouldn’t it be great if you can just transform your Excel into an app? Imagine not having to interpret your (already working) Excel model into a specifications sheet that would take days of programming. Imagine not having to constantly import and export data between systems to Excel. Wouldn’t it be easier if you can just update a formula instead of going through system evolutions?
People have used Excel for countless purposes: report builder, data repository, data cleaning, logic, and most importantly, for computations. While all of these things can be done programmatically, end-users choose to use Excel because it is easy, convenient, flexible, and accessible.
Users are likely to have existing Excel models that they re-use whenever new data sets are generated from IT systems. In some extreme cases, organizations could be completely dependent on a spreadsheet that’s been created in the 90s.
Excel is useful, to say the least, but we believe it has a lot more to offer when taken out of the desktop and into IT systems.
Excel as a backend program
What we mean by this is that your existing Excel spreadsheets can be integrated into IT systems and run as a backend application. In this setup, your Excel model contains all the computations and logic that needs to be executed and possibly some parameters, while the data to be computed comes directly from your system. The CalcFusion Platform makes this possible by acting as a “computation engine” between your IT system and the Excel spreadsheet.
As your Excel model and your IT system is now connected, you are able to leverage on the strength of both technologies: Excel’s flexibility, and IT Systems’ structure. Having them connected also reduces the risk of human error during manual manipulation, and improves latency between data updates and newly computed results.
When Excel integration is more appropriate than programming
Creating new functions using Excel has its advantages. To begin with, using your existing Excel models will save you a lot of time as compared to coding and re-testing what is already in your spreadsheets.
Excel allows easy adjustment of computations where the business rules and parameters regularly change. Using Excel is especially useful for handling exceptions that come as an after-thought during specification or new cases arise as your business naturally evolves. Unlike programming where small changes require full re-testing, the impact of a few changes in Excel affects only the computation function, not your entire system.
Finally, using Excel to create new functions minimizes the need for intervention by your system administrator as it only requires their assistance during initial setup. Creating the Excel model, and future evolutions to the computations and logic can be done independently by business managers.
Of course, there is always an appropriate place for programming and you should be able to gauge if investing in programming is the best option for you.
Infinity of use cases
With Excel as the foundation of CalcFusion, there is basically no limit to the use cases it can solve.
Taking Salesforce as a sample IT system, Excel can easily be used to supplement the available computation functions that it offers. For instance, Sales Commissions are computed differently within organizations. It can be based on gross profit, revenue percentage, revenue gates, placement fees, and others, combined with multiple commission structures and time frame. On top of this, computations can vary depending on the sales position, department, account type, and can be even be split across multiple employees.
Programming such a multi-dimensional computation can be complicated, while it is less daunting when done in Excel. By allocating a tab for each dimension of computation, and maintaining parameter tables, the sales commission can be computed step-by-step, making it even easier to test.
Facilitating integration and alleviating Excel’s weaknesses
Using a platform like CalcFusion facilitates the integration of Excel and IT systems through web services. CalcFusion’s console provides functionalities that allow end-users to manage their spreadsheets to solve a lot of the issues that are typically encountered with Excel.
CalcFusion’s centralized environment and user rights management provides version control. Archiving and execution logs allow historical tracking of computations. Additionally, test and audit functions lessen the risks for erroraneous spreadsheets.
We, at CalcFusion, believe that there is a reason why Excel remains to be the most popular desktop tool. So instead of trying to eliminate it, we’ve found the perfect place of where Excel can peacefully exist within the IT puzzle.
If you would like to transform your own Excel model into an app, register now for a free trial. Our team will get in touch with you to give you a free consultation.