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Things Your Spreadsheet Can’t Do

We are all ruthless users of Excel. It’s true: Even when Excel is not up to the demands we put on it, we continue to use it. We love Excel. It has enduring appeal as everything from a financial reporting tool to a database solution. While spreadsheets were initially created for financial modeling—to perform calculations and recalculations, according to VisiCalc spreadsheet co-creator Bob Frankston—most people do not actually use Excel for numerical computation. 

Here’s the thing: Spreadsheets are endlessly versatile. If you want a list: calculations, simulations, dashboards, reports (with and without charts), automation with VBA macros, statistical analysis, data entry, games (no kidding), educational use with interactive features, cheat sheets, diagrams, mockups, Gantt charts, fetching live data from the web, and of course, as a database. 

Suffice it to say that Excel is capable of a lot, even if it has limitations. Yet in spite of those limitations, Excel also retains enduring appeal to users. 

So it’s time to burst that bubble a little: We’re here to talk about some critical things your spreadsheet can’t do. 

Comprehensive Visibility

Widespread familiarity with static Excel spreadsheets means we’re prone to use them for big jobs they’re simply not meant for. That’s not to disparage Excel spreadsheets for everything they can and should be used for, simply to highlight areas where you might be missing out by just using a spreadsheet. 

Take business intelligence, for one. Static spreadsheets—as we stated above—are great for dashboards and reports. However, typically these spreadsheets are manually intensive to create. On top of that, the data is stale, a “snapshot in time,” if you will, and perhaps even relating inconsistent data between departments. 

Joining Data for Aggregate Reporting

Many organizations use multiple disconnected and even disparate systems to support day-to-day business activities. This isn’t a problem until it comes to reporting and decision-making. Between disconnected systems and integration challenges, plenty of barriers crop up to get in the way of timely decision-making. 

In instances like this, we tend to rely on spreadsheets to join data extracts from a plethora of systems to aggregate reporting. Makes sense, right? Except this becomes a manual, tedious, and frequently error-prone process. Not to mention it’s a process that has to be repeated month in and month out for every reporting period. And while plenty of us use spreadsheets to store data, they’re not designed to be data warehouses with high volume data and fast querying. Joining too much data in a spreadsheet runs the risk of mishandling or corruption, or worse: missing critical data if your sheet runs over 1 million rows. 

Managing Vs. Analyzing

Even if you’re willing to put up with a highly manual process to aggregate all the necessary data into your reports, and even if you have someone who is so good at what they do that you’re 97% certain there aren’t any errors, and even if you’re okay working with data that is only a snapshot in time . . . even if all of that is true, you’re still woefully underutilizing the talents of your team by having them focused largely on data handling and not applying analytics to the data in order to guide business improvements. 

Your static spreadsheets—while workable for the necessary data handling—have too many limitations on their analytic workloads and real-time collaboration, which in turn will cost you in the form of undiscovered and unshared data insights. 

It’s Not All Bad News: Spreadsheet Advantages with Integration

Before you start thinking we might actually hate Excel spreadsheets, we don’t. We love them just as much as you do. They require minimal training, they’re customizable (especially if you like to nerd out about formulas and functions), they can be collaborative, they make it easy to manipulate and analyze data, and you can integrate them with other tools. 

Spreadsheets aren’t all bad. In fact, we love them so much, we decided to find ways to help your spreadsheets do all those things we just told you they couldn’t do. Because on its own, there are certainly things your spreadsheet cannot do. 

That’s where integration comes in. 

At CloudExtend, we’ve built you the best Excel to NetSuite integration possible to make sure your spreadsheets can do everything you need them to do. 

Comprehensive visibility? Check. CloudExtend Excel for NetSuite will automatically pull data from one or more saved searches into your spreadsheet to populate your reports. No more manual exports. Not only that, you can set the spreadsheet up to refresh that saved search data on a schedule—say, monthly, for all your closing reports—or any time on demand, where a single click can give you a to-the-moment view of what’s going on in your data and in your business. 

Joining data for aggregate reporting? See above. Add your NetSuite data in effortlessly to spreadsheets containing data from other systems. (We’ve got more exciting news on joining data from other systems coming soon!)

Managing vs. analyzing? You’re covered there, too. With CloudExtend’s ability to pull in data from saved searches automatically, you’ll see an improvement in reporting efficiency upward of 1,000 hours saved per year. What could your team do with all that time back? A whole lot of data analysis to drive the business forward, that’s what. 

So what you thought your spreadsheet couldn’t do? Turns out, it can. You just need a little boost from an integration like CloudExtend. Give it a try absolutely free for two weeks and see just how much your spreadsheets can do.