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Thread: Would you run your small business on Excel?

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    Re: Would you run your small business on Excel?

    Quote Originally Posted by HonestJoe View Post
    I could understand it for a small start-up or one-man-band style businesses but if they’re of the size to justify at least two levels of management, I’d definitely say they should be using more robust solutions for this kind of thing. As others have pointed out, there are plenty of solutions out there dedicated to exactly these kind of tasks so there shouldn’t be any trouble finding something that suits their needs and budget.

    Resistance to change is a big sticking point though and it does typically come from either end a business, either end users not wanting to change how they work and, as in this case, senior management not having the foresight to see the cost in time and money as the long-term investments they should be.
    It is usually a good assumption that business people whether high or low level are strongly resistant to technological change and understanding. On the flip side tech people are really bad at understanding businesses. It is why my major exists.
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    Re: Would you run your small business on Excel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Renae View Post
    I ask because I happen to know of one, that runs all their data, accounting, sales, inventory ENTIRELY ON EXCEL. I happen to know that the document manager is currently trying to implement a major overhaul to a real database commercial grade database solution. This person has run into a huge roadblock of the upper management "Not having time" to learn a new system and is about to convert everything back into excel because "Excel is better".

    So business people, what are your thoughts? IS the document manager right to move the company off excel or is upper management right? I have little personal experience in using excel on a small business scale so I couldn't say either way.
    Before computers your Standard Oil's, General Electric's and Ford Motor Companies were run on ledger paper so sure, a small business can operate on Excel. I even recommend it for some of my SMALL clients. The problems come in when you have to change something. A mid year change in sales tax rate, for example, can be extremely complicated to implement if you haven't planned ahead for it when building the workbook. That's why I only recommend it for people who are just starting out, don't have employees and don't have much in the way of volume.

    I've got a behavioral health specialist that I use Excel for because it's easy for her. If she has 10 transactions a month it's a busy month for her and excel gives her what she needs.

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    Re: Would you run your small business on Excel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Renae View Post
    I ask because I happen to know of one, that runs all their data, accounting, sales, inventory ENTIRELY ON EXCEL. I happen to know that the document manager is currently trying to implement a major overhaul to a real database commercial grade database solution. This person has run into a huge roadblock of the upper management "Not having time" to learn a new system and is about to convert everything back into excel because "Excel is better".

    So business people, what are your thoughts? IS the document manager right to move the company off excel or is upper management right? I have little personal experience in using excel on a small business scale so I couldn't say either way.
    Depends on the size and scope of the business. It can get unwieldy at a certain point. In smaller business's it's perfectly fine.
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    Re: Would you run your small business on Excel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Carjosse View Post
    Then I strongly suggest they start looking into finding a new accounting manager.
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    Re: Would you run your small business on Excel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Renae View Post
    She is' the CEO's wife and cofounder. (not kidding here)
    Then there is not much that can happen, other than wait and see how badly it will fail.
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    Re: Would you run your small business on Excel?

    To a certain degree and size yes

    My previous company (which produced the equivalent 650 000 2 x 2.5 USG cases of a variety of different products in a year) ran a lot of the business off Excel

    Supply Chain was the most significant, but production records, analytical records, work sheets for the production dept were all done using excel

    Inventory, was done in both excel and Adage (an older smaller ERP system) Accounting was done in the ERP

    Eventually the company moved to Oracle for an ERP system, which the implementation was done very poorly) It was supposed to handle Supply chain, production demand, store of all production and analytical records, accounting and inventory. For the Canadian side of the business, we used Oracle for inventory and accounting only. The US side spent hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars trying to get the supply chain and production demand parts of it working. After I believe 5 years they got it to at least potentially work

    Now the company I was at is a multinational company with sales of approx $1.6 billion. The Can operations were around $100 million, the US approx $600 million.

    Overall trying to get Oracle ERP up and running probably cost the company $10 million dollars and a significant amount of wasted labor hours

    So for a small business with limited IT skills yes i would run a business off excel and ensure I had the right and required data being fed into it. It might take longer, and require double inputs but it can work for a business at a single location. It should not be shared or used for multiple locations so a "One Company One system" will not work with excell
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    Re: Would you run your small business on Excel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Renae View Post
    I ask because I happen to know of one, that runs all their data, accounting, sales, inventory ENTIRELY ON EXCEL. I happen to know that the document manager is currently trying to implement a major overhaul to a real database commercial grade database solution. This person has run into a huge roadblock of the upper management "Not having time" to learn a new system and is about to convert everything back into excel because "Excel is better".

    So business people, what are your thoughts? IS the document manager right to move the company off excel or is upper management right? I have little personal experience in using excel on a small business scale so I couldn't say either way.
    How small of a company?

    More to do with the amount of staff and the amount of capital they have to purchase a good ERP system, that is set up the way they need.

    If the business has less than 30 admin/office staff (note I am excluding production workers if any from the number of employees) , who can feed the data in excel and provide reports to upper management on a regular basis. Excel can work (accounting and inventory I think would be better on a different platform). But if they do not have the capital and the resources to pay for system maintenance after the transition they are better off sticking to excel.

    I do not know all the different ERPs systems

    But for a small company I would stay away from Oracle and SAP

    Adage worked for accounting and inventory for my old company, and my new one uses Royal 4 which is great for warehouse operations, less so for a production environment. But at least it does not cost millions to get set up like Oracle
    Last edited by Lord Tammerlain; 08-02-17 at 03:39 PM.
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    Re: Would you run your small business on Excel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Renae View Post
    I ask because I happen to know of one, that runs all their data, accounting, sales, inventory ENTIRELY ON EXCEL. I happen to know that the document manager is currently trying to implement a major overhaul to a real database commercial grade database solution. This person has run into a huge roadblock of the upper management "Not having time" to learn a new system and is about to convert everything back into excel because "Excel is better".

    So business people, what are your thoughts? IS the document manager right to move the company off excel or is upper management right? I have little personal experience in using excel on a small business scale so I couldn't say either way.

    Excel is excellent for running a small business. When I ran a small business, I found it quite capable. Spreadsheet use in large complicated spreadsheet in corporate work was quite doable. With Excel, you are simply using more of what it offers than you already know to accomplish what you need. You have all the elements necessary, without starting all over with a new program, with which you develop a more "hands-on" familiarity to stay connected with it all. Yes, there are file size limits, which can be worked around by simply getting used to more files in reference. Much better to customize with as you see fit, though very much pedestrian, but that keeps you in step with everything. IMHO.

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    Re: Would you run your small business on Excel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Renae View Post
    I ask because I happen to know of one, that runs all their data, accounting, sales, inventory ENTIRELY ON EXCEL. I happen to know that the document manager is currently trying to implement a major overhaul to a real database commercial grade database solution. This person has run into a huge roadblock of the upper management "Not having time" to learn a new system and is about to convert everything back into excel because "Excel is better".

    So business people, what are your thoughts? IS the document manager right to move the company off excel or is upper management right? I have little personal experience in using excel on a small business scale so I couldn't say either way.
    I would not, but it can be done.

    The only way I might would be if it were along the lines of a very small sole proprietorship side business with only me and not much activity or volume.
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    Re: Would you run your small business on Excel?

    In this context of the dilemma you posted, if it's not a tiny company, they should move away from Excel. Doing it all at once is probably best for integration purposes.

    The major issues for us were:
    1. integrating accounting, between Quickbooks, payroll, etc.
    2. As you grow, it's necessary that you do proper profit/loss, balance sheets, and forecasting. These are practically impossible with Excel. (I have done them, and I'm good. Yet they were incredibly time consuming, error prone, and still were not integrated.
    3. Time tracking of employees likely also needs to be integrated, again impractical with Excel.
    4. I wonder if they are on a good accrual-basis accounting, I found that near impossible with Excel (I'm not an accountant type)

    I found it difficult to pick the right software, or service provider, it took me quite a while to find one.
    A new software package is great and all, but sometimes you can outsource a good chunk of that and remove it almost entirely except for a single line item expense. The other advantage to having another company help is that if there is turnover or worries about who sees the books, etc, having an insured, separate entity that does this for a living, manage most of it, I found to be a welcome change.

    I would tell management that if they plan to shrink the business, they should go back to Excel. Otherwise, there is no one who has been through that fire, that would suggest staying with EXCEL for anything but the smallest of new companies. Not only will it be better in every current metric, it will empower everyone to do things they are currently *not even doing at all* right now. Probably some essential things!

    Founder-types love to wear the hats, and roll up the sleeves, but that's got to change if they want to grow, everyone probably fights that same losing fight. I think to a degree, no manager/executive with sufficient authority to make this call, should be doing that much work at a low-level with it that they are complaining about using a new tool. They should be delegating, and just receiving reports and graphs, etc., unless very small.

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