Excel-based Budgeting Tools versus Web-based Budgeting Tools (Budgeting Series)

This article focuses on the difference between Excel-based and Web-based budgeting tools.

Choosing the right budgeting tool is extremely important for a growing company. Many financial companies use homegrown Microsoft Excel models extensively in their budgeting, but there are some limitations that are inherent in the application. I admit Excel is a great tool for modeling and analysis, but it is not the best tool to use for budgeting. Software companies are developing commercial budgeting tools that are Excel-based and Web-based to stay familiar with the features and functionalities that most professionals are accustomed to. In this article, we will explore the advantages and the drawbacks of both Excel-based and Web-based budgeting tools that organizations experience. This article is the third installment of our series on budgeting: Excel-based Budgeting Tools Versus Web-based Budgeting Tools.

Let’s explore the disadvantages of both commercial Excel- and Web-based budgeting tools, then discuss the benefits. The disadvantages of Excel that I will list are easily overlooked by users until they are faced with these challenges. For example, every user who uses Excel and wants to share data, must have Excel installed and updated when an upgrade is done. Another example is that Excel does not follow the “trend” of everything going to the web browser. Also, Excel-based budgeting software requires the installation and maintenance of an Excel add-in on each user’s computer – or the use of a remote desktop like Terminal Server to access a server-based Excel installation. There are additional limitations to Excel, such as potential broken links, Excel templates that need to be stored somewhere on the server to be accessed by users, and unenforced budget drivers, hence why companies are investing in third party budgeting tools. It should be noted that several modern Excel add-in tools have found ways around these typical Excel issues. A number of companies prefer using Excel-based tools, such as Excel add-ins, in their budgeting as they are familiar with the features and functionality of Microsoft Excel.

Now that every software and application seems to go to the web, you may think investing in a web-based budgeting tool is the way to go, but there are some disadvantages. Drawbacks include many of the special features that Excel natively offers, as well as limited budget workflow capabilities. Web-based budgeting solutions support many Excel-like features and functionalities, but often not all features such as macros and 3D charts. They also require a web server that is configured with the public internet protocol (IP) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates considered. If this is not making sense to you, take a look at this article on why you would need a SSL or IP.

Now that we have talked about the disadvantages, let’s talk about the benefits of third party budgeting tools. We all know Microsoft Excel has been around for ages. Because of Microsoft Excel’s prevalence, Excel-based budgeting solutions keep the user in a familiar environment. It is not only convenient because it is familiar, but it is also convenient because it provides full support of all Excel features and functionalities such as macros, charting, and many more. Additional benefits include the ability to assign users to a specific budget parameter, approve assignments for a budget workflow process, and manage storage, so that budget plans and periods ensure that they store their budget data accurately.

If your company is thinking about moving to the cloud, know that cloud computing is computing based on the internet. Cloud computing gives users access to the same type of applications through the internet. Many businesses are moving to the cloud because cloud computing increases efficiency, helps improve cash flow in addition to offering many benefits such as flexibility, disaster recovery, automatic software updates, working from anywhere, increased collaboration, security, environmental friendliness, and competitiveness to list a few.

Investing in a web-based budgeting tool might be the best solution for you and your corporation. Additional benefits are that the modern web interface is accessible from any computer with access to the internet, users can easily upgrade from version to version, as the software is located on a single web server, and lastly, a number of web-based budgeting applications have the ability to write back directly to supported enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.

If your current budgeting software is limiting your company from making smart choices for your business, you should consider investing in a new budgeting solution. Modern BI tools are providing business end users choices, so that they can access the exact information they need when they need it without having to wait for assistance. Some of today’s Business Intelligence (BI) solutions do join the familiarity of Microsoft Excel and flexibility of web and mobile into one product. For example, BI360 is a hybrid, Excel- and Web-based, delivering secure, browser-based access to analytics of your company data, but built with the familiarity of Excel formatting – and it can be hosted on-premises. These BI software offerings enable users to configure security measures, regardless of whether the solution is hosted in the Cloud or on-premises.

If your organization is still relying on spreadsheets, modern, best-of-breed BI solutions can be a great option for you. One of today’s BI solutions deliver real-time accurate data when you need it. When reports and spreadsheets contain more data than it was built to handle, Excel can become sluggish. In a growing company, you will need a software that allows real-time data sharing and updating. Having an accurate view of a bigger picture with a BI tool that can combine data from multiple data sources will make a clear and straightforward analysis of your information no matter how large the size.

Solver enables world-class decisions with BI360, a leading web-based CPM suite made up of budgeting, reporting, dashboards, and data warehousing, delivered through a web portal. Solver is reinventing CPM with its next generation solution. BI360 empowers business users with modern features including innovative use of Excel in the model design process. If you’re interested in learning more, our team is excited to hear about your organizational needs and goals.

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