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Church Finance: 3 Reasons to Dig Yourself out of Excel

Church Finance: 3 Reasons to Dig Yourself out of Excel

Since the inception of Excel nearly 40 years ago, Microsoft has been improving the computing power of the spreadsheet. But is it still the best way to manage your giving data?

For many years, analysts have lived and breathed in Excel. Excel provided users with the ability to produce results with automated computing power. For those buried in church finance data, this was a life saver.

Unfortunately, the results of the calculations are only as good as the data in each cell. Even with check and balance triggers inside the worksheet, the data represented in the final report is all dependent on the user’s capabilities and not necessarily the data itself.

But we now have more options.

Transfer of POWER

When it comes to gathering and reporting on financial data, what if the data storehouse generated, calculated, automated and graphed that data for you? What if you didn’t have to export data into Excel to manipulate it and produce reports?

The older I get, the more I realize that my own limited perspective on “change,” especially when it comes to technology, should not limit the possibilities for improvement. I say that because we often find ourselves looking at what we do now and thinking that it works just fine. Why do I need to change if something is working, right? In the nonprofit world, we are all about being good stewards of the funds given to our mission.

Well, time is money and when we spend too much time building and presenting reports, we must look for a better way.

A Better Way

I’m not for change just for change’s sake, but without change there is no growth. I once saw someone illustrate change with the following formula: change = conflict = growth. The status quo is not always the best option. Change agents are willing to struggle through the conflict to reap the benefits of growth.

When we find ourselves buried in Excel reports spending hours on end trying to manipulate and reconcile data, we need to ask, is there a better way? 

The answer is YES and here are 3 benefits of change:

#1 – Reduction in execution and increase in examination

With financial systems like Intacct, data can be calculated and presented without the use of Excel. Replicating your current Excel formats is easy because the data is stored and sorted natively within the system to mimic the Excel results. Non-financial information can easily be incorporated into Intacct’s financial platform to allow for greater in-depth analysis…without exporting into Excel. 

More time is spent on analyzing the data versus building reports. Real-time, relevant data is the catalyst to establishing and fulfilling your visionary goals.

#2 – The tunnel of technology

Why pull data from other systems manually when an API can do it for you? Cloud technology has opened communication between systems so that data can automatically flow between them behind the scenes. That means you have access to data from a central repository and can minimize the man hours of fetching data yourself.

#3 – More proof that old dogs CAN learn new tricks

We need to embrace change in order to expand our reach as a church. Generations come and go, and with new generations come new inventions. Be willing to examine your current processes, workflows and data input requirements. There could be a better way.

Take the Time to Find Solutions

If you are buried in Excel in order to produce board reports and unable to provide program leaders timely data, take the time to find the right solutions.

With the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model, churches reap the benefits of operating expensive business technology at a fraction of the cost. If you want to get better results when it comes to productivity, time management and financial analysis, get out of the insanity business and make the changes needed to produce different results.

*Written by Tammy Bunting, former Director for Not-for-Profit Services at AcctTwo.

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