Is There Still a Role for Spreadsheets in Finance?

Spreadsheets-dont-work-485-277Let’s face it – spreadsheets will have a role and offer value to finance to some extent for the foreseeable future. As a “spreadsheet jockey” myself, I use them primarily for ad hoc analysis and reporting. One of the questions that needs to be asked though is, does your FP&A team spend 80% of their time getting data into reports and tying them out for analysis and only 20% of the time actually analyzing the data? Or, do they spend 20% preparing reports and 80% on analysis. If it’s the former, which is actually quite common, then you should seriously consider an alternative to spreadsheets. While many in finance tend to want to stick with what they know, not using a more appropriate technology is a disservice your FP&A team and organization as a whole. Outstanding spreadsheet skills do not necessarily translate into added value for the organization. Understanding the business and using the proper tools for analysis helps to develop your team AND add value to your organization.

Winston-Churchill-614-298Furthermore, if spreadsheets are preventing you from producing a rolling 12 month forecast, you should consider a different technology. In my experience, by the time most spreadsheet-based budgets have been completed, they are already obsolete. As Winston Churchill famously said, He who fails to plan is planning to fail. I would take that truism further and say that He who produces obsolete plans is wasting his time and putting his company at risk. The forecasting process should be built on a budget and then updated regularly so that management can understand issues before they become crises and have the time to act. Cloud CPM technologies, and Adaptive Insights in particular, are purpose-built for this and are able to do so efficiently. Thus it frees up the FP&A team to focus more on developing expert knowledge of the business and ensuring the budget aligns with strategy. It also elevates the role of FP&A in the eyes of the executive team and the broader organization as they are able to proactively identify challenges that are on the horizon and then collaboratively seek out solutions.

So, yes, spreadsheets still have a role in finance but they should be relegated to more appropriate niche tasks while more capable cloud CPM solutions become the tool of choice for FP&A teams.

Ready to look beyond spreadsheets for your FP&A team?  Please contact me to discuss the benefits of Adaptive Insights, the #1 cloud CPM solution.


Brian Teets Joins Carlson to Strengthen Higher Education Performance Management Practice


Brian Teets, MBA, Senior Associate

WOBURN, MA — May 19, 2015Carlson Management Consulting, a leading financial solutions and services firm serving a growing list of customers nationwide, today announced that Brian Teets, MBA, has joined the company to strengthen its higher education performance management practice. Carlson customers in higher education include Bentley University, Vassar College, Babson College, and Merrimack College, and many more.

Brian comes to Carlson from Montclair State University where he was the Budget Systems Manager and played a pivotal role in the University’s successful implementation of Adaptive Insights. Through his efforts and that of his team, they recorded a 211% ROI, a 7.2 month payback, and an average annual benefit of $114,665 through their use of Adaptive Insights. These impressive results were showcased during a keynote presentation when Brian joined the stage with Karen Pisha, Vice President of Customer Success at Adaptive Insights, to discuss the benefits and value that Adaptive has brought to Montclair State. Montclair State was also the recipient of the Adaptive Insights Torchie Award, which honors Adaptive customers for excellence across a number of key enterprise implementation and business categories. Brian and his team at Montclair State were awarded for the “Best Business Impact” category due to the financial impact that they were able to leverage within the University by moving to Adaptive Insights.

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Carlson Makes a Splash at Adaptive Live 2015

Carlson-Adaptive-Live-500-560Adaptive Live 2015, the annual user conference of Adaptive Insights, was held last week in San Jose, California and drew a record crowd of more than 1,200 attendees. This year, Carlson Management Consulting was a Gold Sponsor and brought eight members of our team to attend our booth and learn from the thought leadership and new product sessions. It was great meeting with many of our existing customers as well as new folks looking to gain even more value out of their Adaptive investments. Many thanks to the people who came by our booth to have a chat and especially those who took advantage of our free system assessments and product demos. Read more

Carlson April Events: Let’s Meet Up!

Carlson-at-Adaptive-Live-2015Spring is finally in the air and hopefully you are feeling energized by the warmer temperatures and longer days (especially if you live in the Northeast).  Our April events are heating up quickly and approaching fast.  We are a Gold Sponsor of Adaptive Live 2015, the annual user conference of Adaptive Insights being held on April 20 – 23 in San Jose, CA.  This event draws thousands of Adaptive users and provides a full agenda of speaking sessions and workshops.  Of special note, Ethan Carlson will be presenting a session on Rethinking Performance Management where he will examine opportunities where metrics can be used to drive performance and accountability, and discuss how CPM can be implemented in novel ways to build a world-class organization.  Of course, Adaptive Live is a fun event as well.  We will have a Plinko game and giveaways at our booth.  We will also have a surprise event in store for attendees who visit us!  Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to get live updates from the conference!

Carlson at Adaptive Roadshow for Finance Best PracticesKevin O’Brien will be presenting at the Lessons Over Lunch: Data-Driven Decision Making for Biotech & Pharma seminar on April 14th from 11:30am to 2:30pm at the Bridgewater Marriott in Bridgewater, New Jersey.  This event is specifically designed for biotechnology and pharmaceutical company finance leaders.  At this complimentary luncheon, attendees will hear about:

  • Key metrics for biotech and pharma, their underlying drivers and why they matter
  • The importance of real-time visibility into performance and KPIs
  • Using analytics and dashboards to communicate performance

To register for this complimentary event, please use this link.

We hope you can join us at these two events!

Ethan Carlson to Moderate ‘Rethinking Corporate Performance’ Panel

Ethan-Carlson-CEO-Carlson-Management-ConsultingJoin Ethan Carlson, CEO of Carlson Management Consulting, as he moderates a panel of senior executives on the topic of Rethinking Corporate Performance.  This event, organized by the CFO Leadership Council Boston, is taking place at Bentley University’s LaCava Center on Wednesday, March 18th from 7:15 AM to 9:45 AM (EDT).

Program description 

The CFO role has expanded beyond the historical role as steward and operator, overseeing the organization’s compliance with an efficient finance function.   Today, the CFO needs to help define corporate strategy and be a catalyst for change.   That means being a partner to the other business leaders and teams – in particular helping drive and measure performance against corporate goals.  It’s more than just building plans and watching budget variances; today’s CFO must be a driving force in connecting vision to strategy to operating plans and individual and team performance goals – and aligning all that to the company’s individual performance management system and compensation plans.

JoJoin-Carlson-at-CFO-Leadership-Councilin a multi-disciplinary panel of experts to learn how you can take the lead in building a proactive performance driven environment.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion, attendees should understand and take away:

  • Different stakeholder goals and how these affect corporate goals
  • How to link corporate vision to strategic planning and translate that to operating plans
  • Examples of integrating business measurement into planning and operations management, through dashboards, metrics, and analytics
  • Tangible ideas on incentive system design that links individual performance to corporate goals

For more information and to register, please click here.