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CFOs want spreadsheets replaced

Ike Suarez | Nov. 5, 2013
Survey reveals Asian CFOs dissatisfied with Excel and similar apps

Significant percentages of CFOs and other senior finance executives in top Asian companies prefer a shift from spreadsheets to process-based systems for their forecasting and planning applications, according to a research paper released by cloud solutions provider, Anaplan Inc.

Titled, “Financial Planning  & Forecasting: Do Asia’s CFOs See the Picture?”,  the research paper  disclosed findings from a survey of CFOs, finance directors, controllers, and other senior finance executives  of Asian companies  registering  at least annual sales of US$500 million globally.

Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Malaysia, and India were among the countries surveyed.

Almost six out of every 10 companies still depended on spreadsheets as their forecasting and planning tools; only two percent used cloud-based applications, the survey showed.

A shift from spreadsheets to process-based systems was the reply 16 percent of respondents gave when asked what they wanted changed in their companies’ approach to forecasting and planning.

The same percentage of respondents also preferred integration of accounting, ERP, sales, and other systems.

On the other hand, 15 percent of respondents expressed a preference for their forecasting and modelling tools to connect to systems of business users outside finance.

Rating of 3 out of 5

Excel received a satisfaction rating of 3.0 for accuracy from respondents whose companies used this spreadsheet application for 90 percent of their forecasting and planning requirements.

The survey ratings ranged from 1 to 5, with 5 representing very satisfied.

For companies that used the application for 50 percent of their forecasting and planning requirements, Excel received a satisfaction rating of 3.2 for accuracy.

Companies which used Excel as the tool for no more than 20 percent of their planning and forecasting requirements received a satisfaction rating of 3.4 for accuracy.

Similar satisfaction ratings with Excel was obtained on timeliness.

Reasons for dissatisfaction with Excel’s accuracy were:

  1. Inability to do  what-if-scenarios  and detailed integrated and operations planning (59 percent)
  2. Significant deviations  in actual outcomes from the forecast (53 percent)

Reasons for dissatisfaction with Excel’s timeliness were:

  1. Inability to do driver-based planning and what-if scenarios (52 percent)
  2. Excessive time spent reconciling top-down and bottom –up plans (52 percent)

Commented Anaplan Asia managing director Samir Meji on the results: “In today’s business environment, spreadsheet –based forecasting and planning is no longer sufficient.”

Said Anaplan CEO Frederic Laluyaux on the survey’s results: “Increasingly, the most successful companies are ones that are first to embrace disruptive technologies that overcome flaws of established processes.”

San Francisco-based SaaS provider Anaplan received US$33 million in additional funding only last March to bring its total funding to US$50 million. It was founded in 2007.

 

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