Spreadsheet Hell

CFOs are interested in the many new technologies being pitched to them, but are they really trapped in spreadsheet hell?

The survey turned up plenty of evidence that IT strategy will play a key role in such plans — and maybe a number of roles. For one, Booz Allen found that success in cutting overhead costs can hinge in large part on mastering the complexity of IT. Companies that said “managing a patchwork of different systems” is their top IT challenge were almost unanimous in labeling themselves underperformers in overhead reduction, while fewer than half of the self-described leaders in cost-cutting said managing a hodgepodge of systems is a top IT concern.

In some cases, an investment in IT may help business units become more self-sufficient. One of the appeals of business intelligence and CPM technology is that they can enable business managers to do their own analyses based on a common set of data. If the technology lives up to its promise, business units can satisfy some of their own requests, allowing finance to do more with less. “A lot of what finance does today are things that people would do themselves if they had the tools,” says John Van Decker, a vice president at Meta Group Inc.

That’s been a perennial complaint, of course, but with tools improving and the pressure on companies to operate more efficiently in no way abating, this could be a classic case of spend a dime to make a dollar. —D.D.

What’s Hot, and Not

Where does your company stand on the following technologies?
  Use now Plan
to use
No plans, but interested No interest
Spreadsheets 100%
Basic budgeting,
planning, forecasting
66% 17% 13% 4%
ERP (finance modules) 34% 14% 26% 27%
E-payments, E-billing 34% 18% 34% 15%
Treasury systems 29% 8% 29% 34%
Tax systems 25% 10% 27% 38%
E-procurement 19% 19% 37% 25%
Portals (finance-oriented) 13% 16% 37% 34%
Dashboards 13% 19% 31% 37%
Compliance software 11% 15% 35% 40%
Risk-management software 10% 5% 45% 40%
Advanced BI, CPM, BPM 8% 20% 50% 22%
Enterprise spend management 6% 6% 36% 53%
Price-optimization software 6% 7% 31% 57%
Note: Percentage may not total 100, due to rounding.

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