Nearly half of UK companies rely on spreadsheets for recovery planning

Spreadsheet Marketing Budget Report File Concept

Almost half of finance departments in the UK are relying on spreadsheets to plan their recovery from the pandemic downturn, denying themselves the speed, flexibility and accuracy of an analytics platform.

The poll for MHR Analytics found only 27% of organisations are using planning analytics software to formulate recovery strategies.

The relatively low use of planning analytics software persists despite widespread understanding of their advantages within organisations. Last year, a survey of UK finance and technology professionals in large organisations found more than half believed their company needed a forward-looking forecast to survive the next decade. More than a third of respondents thought planning would be automated within five years, with 30% saying the same about scenario-modelling.

However, the latest poll also made clear the advantages of reporting and planning software for working remotely. Almost seven-in-ten working in this way say it is either operating well during the current enforced period of near-universal home working or has caused them no concerns at all. Increasing numbers of organisations have made the shift from mature on-premises offerings to cloud solutions.

“The downturn is posing questions about recovery that many organisations will not be able to answer without rapid access to a comprehensive range of ‘what-if’ scenarios covering HR and the financial impact of any proposed strategy. If they are relying on spreadsheets, they will struggle,” said Mark White, Financial Performance Management Specialist, MHR Analytics.

“Organisations may go back to spreadsheets because their reporting and planning solutions cannot cope with the multiple, rapidly-changing factors involved, such as changes to furlough rules.

“The level of agility and accuracy organisations need in a crisis is only possible with advanced, cloud-based financial planning platforms, alongside full skills transfer so employees know how to model detailed multiple scenarios quickly.”

Organisations that have made the transition to cloud-based planning analytics find it is the best way to dramatically reduce admin time, allowing skilled finance professionals to focus on more strategic activities that will provide better value.