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.


Carlson Launches New Cloud Integration Solution; Saving Adaptive Insights Users Days of Effort and Providing Unified Data


datablend-oval-and-typemark-solid_03WOBURN MA, Sept 24, 2015Carlson Management Consulting, the cloud financial solutions experts, today announces the launch of its new DataBlend cloud integration solution. DataBlend makes it easy to seamlessly bring data from external systems into Adaptive Insights, the #1 cloud Corporate Performance solution. With DataBlend’s unique capabilities, business users can create static versions in Adaptive with the click of a button, transfer data across versions easily, and replace slow formula-based tasks with high performance batch processes. Users are able to integrate data from mission-critical systems into Adaptive Insights in just hours, rather than days.

DataBlend is the latest innovation from Carlson Management Consulting, which ranks 553 on the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies. Carlson previously received the Partner Innovation 2014 award from Adaptive Insights for its pre-built vertical market solutions.

“We are excited to announce the official launch of DataBlend for Adaptive Insights customers. We have already received glowing feedback from our early adopters and are ready to make available to the broader Adaptive community,” stated Ethan Carlson, founder and CEO of Carlson Management Consulting. “DataBlend addresses the need for a high performance, bi-directional integration solution designed for business users. It enables finance professionals to benefit from full picture insights and analyses within the Adaptive system that only comprehensive and unified data can deliver.”

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Ethan Carlson to Present at FP&A Innovation Summit in Boston

Carlson-FPA-Innovation-Summit-BostonThe FP&A Innovation Summit is just around the corner. The FP&A Innovation Summit is taking place at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston on September 10 & 11.

It is a three track event encompassing presentations, panel sessions and workshops on FP&A Innovation, Finance Transformation and Financial Leadership.


Ethan Carlson, Founder and CEO

Ethan Carlson will be presenting on Sept. 11th at 12pm. His topic Redefining Performance Management will stimulate new ideas on how performance management can be implemented in novel ways in your organization. You won’t want to miss it! Take a look at who else will be speaking and the topics to be covered here.

For a complete summit overview, please visit:

We have secured an exclusive discount code for the FP&A Innovation Summit so you can save 20% on passes.  To take advantage of this fantastic learning and networking opportunity simply apply the code Carlson20 when you register.

We hope you can join us there!



Transforming Finance: Interview with WGBH’s Maureen Henehan

WGBH_logo-720-382I recently had an opportunity to connect with Maureen Henehan, Director of Program Management and Process Improvement at WGBH, to ask about her experience as a finance leader and the role of Adaptive Insights in transforming finance in her organization.  WGBH Boston, a Carlson customer, is America’s preeminent public broadcaster and the largest producer of PBS content for TV and the Web. Television channels include WGBH 2, WGBX 44, and the digital channels World and Create. WGBH Radio serves listeners across New England with 89.7 WGBH, Boston’s Local NPR®; 99.5 WCRB; and WCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR® Station.

David  Hi Maureen, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Could you describe your background and current role at WGBH?

Maureen  My name is Maureen Henehan and I am the Director of Program Management and Process Improvement at WGBH Educational foundation. I have been a member of the Finance Team at WGBH for more than 15 years serving in many different capacities throughout the organization.  As the Director of Program Management, I am responsible for the establishment of key metrics for measuring the effectiveness and performance of processes in Finance. These metrics are used to foster a data driven environment for business decision making. Additionally, I lead the finance team in the delivery of programs to improve processes and  ensure quality. As the lead for all major programs within the Chief Financial Officer’s office I am responsible for the integration of these programs and systems, driving best practices to enable the most efficient alignment of large scale enterprise applications. Prior to taking on this role at WGBH, I have served in a number of different capacities within the production areas of WGBH including roles as  the Director of Production Finance and Grant Management, Senior Manager of Grants, and as Business Manager for National Children’s Television series productions including Fetch! and ZOOM.

David  What are some of the challenges you face as a finance leader in a non-profit organization and how have you overcome them?

Maureen  As a finance leader in a non-profit environment, we face the challenge of managing limited resources while maintaining the highest level of content in the constantly changing media industry. We have to keep adjusting and evolving, focusing on adapting our financial processes and systems to accommodate the changes in the Media Industry and in the ways we producer and deliver media content. Some ways we have done this from a finance perspective are to implement cloud based financial systems, including Adaptive Planning, that integrate with each other and help us standardize and unify financial functions across all aspects of our business. This has rapidly increased productivity and given us valuable metrics so that we can continue to evaluate our business and plan for the future.

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Carlson Management Consulting Ranks No. 553 on the 2015 Inc. 5000 with Three-Year Sales Growth of 835%

Carlson-MC-#553-on-Inc-5000NEW YORK and Woburn MA, August 12, 2015Inc. magazine today ranked Carlson Management Consulting no. 553 on its 34th annual Inc. 5000, an exclusive ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. The list represents the most comprehensive look at the most important segment of the economy—America’s independent entrepreneurs. Companies such as Yelp, Pandora, Timberland, Dell, Domino’s Pizza, LinkedIn, Zillow, and many other well-known names gained early exposure as members of the Inc. 5000.

“We are thrilled to be ranked 553 on the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies. Our success is a result of the hard work and professionalism of our team and our commitment to delivering exceptional financial solutions and services to our clients,” stated Ethan Carlson, founder and CEO of Carlson Management Consulting. “As we execute on our growth strategy, we will continue to invest in human capital, innovation, and partnerships as we deliver high-value solutions to our broadening customer base.”

The 2015 Inc. 5000, unveiled online at, is the most competitive crop in the list’s history. The average company on the list achieved a mind-boggling three-year growth of 490%. The Inc. 5000’s aggregate revenue is $205 billion, generating 647,000 jobs over the past three years. Complete results of the Inc. 5000, including company profiles and an interactive database that can be sorted by industry, region, and other criteria, can be found at Carlson Management Consulting’s Inc. 5000 profile can be found at  In addition to its national ranking, Carlson ranks as the #15 fastest growing private Massachusetts company.  Since its initial listing notification, Carlson’s growth has continued at a rapid rate and headcount is now 15.

“The story of this year’s Inc. 5000 is the story of great leadership. In an incredibly competitive business landscape, it takes something extraordinary to take your company to the top,” says Inc. President and Editor-In-Chief Eric Schurenberg. “You have to remember that the average company on the Inc. 5000 grew nearly six-fold since 2012. Business owners don’t achieve that kind of success by accident.”

The annual Inc. 5000 event honoring all the companies on the list will be held from October 21 through 23, 2015 in Orlando. Speakers include some of the greatest entrepreneurs of this and past generations, such as Marcus Lemonis, host of the CNBC show “The Profit,” Robert Herjavec, one of the main “sharks” on ABC-TV’s “Shark Tank,” KIND Founder and CEO Daniel Lubetzky, and Co-Founder of JJ Ramberg.


About Carlson Management Consulting

Carlson Management Consulting is an award-winning Cloud solutions and services firm, serving a growing list of customers nationwide. We deliver ‘best in class’ SaaS Corporate Performance Management (CPM), Financial Close and Automation, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions and value-added consulting services to organizations of all sizes. With deep finance and technology expertise, we help customers gain operational and cost efficiencies by moving critical business processes to the Cloud, while reducing IT overheads. Our customers benefit from improved insight and decision-making by leveraging the value of quality, real-time data for business intelligence and forward-focused planning. As acknowledged thought leaders in finance and technology, we are frequent speakers at industry conferences, seminars and events.


David Phillips

(207) 482-9762


More about Inc. and the Inc. 500|5000


The 2015 Inc. 5000 is ranked according to percentage revenue growth when comparing 2011 to 2014. To qualify, companies must have been founded and generating revenue by March 31, 2011. They had to be U.S.-based, privately held, for profit, and independent–not subsidiaries or divisions of other companies–as of December 31, 2014. (Since then, a number of companies on the list have gone public or been acquired.) The minimum revenue required for 2011 is $100,000; the minimum for 2014 is $2 million. As always, Inc. reserves the right to decline applicants for subjective reasons. Companies on the Inc. 500 are featured in Inc.’s September issue. They represent the top tier of the Inc. 5000, which can be found at

About Inc. Media:

Founded in 1979 and acquired in 2005 by Mansueto Ventures, Inc. is the only major brand dedicated exclusively to owners and managers of growing private companies, with the aim to deliver real solutions for today’s innovative company builders.  Winner of the National Magazine Award for General Excellence in both 2014 and 2012. Total monthly audience reach for the brand has grown significantly from 2,000,000 in 2010 to over 13,000,000 today.  For more information, visit

The Inc. 500|5000 is a list of the fastest-growing private companies in the nation. Started in 1982, this prestigious list of the nation’s most successful private companies has become the hallmark of entrepreneurial success. The Inc. 5000 Conference & Awards Ceremony is an annual event that celebrates their remarkable achievements. The event also offers informative workshops, celebrated keynote speakers, and evening functions.

For more information on Inc. and the Inc. 5000 Conference, visit

For more information contact:

Inc. Media

Drew Kerr