For decades, accountants and CPAs have relied on digital spreadsheets like Microsoft Excel to manage their workflows. At first glance, a spreadsheet seems like a good solution: it’s free, it’s convenient, and it’s included in almost all major productivity suites.
However, there are many advantages that spreadsheet programs just don’t provide to modern firms. In fact, spreadsheets have so many disadvantages that using them could put your firm at risk for mistakes, inefficiency, and even litigation. Below are just a few reasons why we recommend switching from spreadsheets to more modern practice management software.
Simply put, spreadsheets are clumsy. In order to organize them, the user has to build his or her own file hierarchy. It’s hard to share data between different sheets, and even tougher to get the spreadsheet to integrate with data stored in other applications. For instance, imagine that you want to send a sale offer to every customer who has spent more than $100 at your store in the last month. Spreadsheet programs are too clumsy to execute that task efficiently.
Most popular spreadsheet programs require the user to enter formulas and equations. While some of these formulas are pretty basic, others are incredibly difficult to apply correctly. If you get a formula wrong, the spreadsheet program can’t tell you what the problem is, and you are forced to stop your workflow in order to diagnose the problem. More time is spent trying to get the software to work than actually studying the results the software provides, identifying opportunities for improvement, and implementing them. In fact, the spreadsheet may not even tell you that there is a problem at all. It will just do the calculation you told it to do, and it could be months before you realize you have a problem.
Limited Storage & Security
Many business owners who use spreadsheets for accounting save the data directly to their computers. This is an extremely outdated and dangerous breach of security, and it creates multiple problems for you and your firm. Firstly, if the computer is ruined in an accident or natural disaster (hey, it happens), all the essential data will be lost, and the work will have to be redone. More importantly, though, if someone steals the computer or hacks into it, all of your clients’ financial details will be in unknown hands—and your firm will be subject to fines, lawsuits, or another type of consequence.
Lack of Other Features
A spreadsheet can crunch numbers and keep track of data, but that’s all it does. It doesn’t integrate with your calendar of client meetings and appointments; it doesn’t help you manage your firm’s due dates and deadlines; it doesn’t generate invoices or reports; and it doesn’t allow you to delegate tasks to different members of your team. Modern practice management software offers a full, comprehensive practice management solution that addresses all the problems and challenges an accounting firm faces. A simple spreadsheet just doesn’t compare.
Lack of User Friendliness
The folks who designed spreadsheet programs are among the minority who find them intuitive and easy to use. True, you might know how to make basic manipulations to cells in Excel, but most normal people struggle with formatting and formulating more complex commands. Even if you’re pretty savvy with spreadsheets, there will come a day when you need to translate a business calculation into a spreadsheet formula, and won’t be able to figure it out on your own. You’ll spend hours searching for the answer online, wasting valuable time that could be spent on client. Modern practice management tools don’t require users to take a class just to be able to use it.
Forget Spreadsheets—Get ImagineTime!
If you’re still relying on paper or Excel-based systems to bill your clients, you’re playing on “hard mode” when you don’t need to be! ImagineTime’s practice management software was designed to make accountants’ lives easier. To learn more about our workflow solutions, click here.