Technology Innovator Awards 2018

6 Corporate Vision / Technology Innovator Awards 2018 , Is Specialised Software the Beginning of the End for the Spreadsheet? byMartin de Heus, VP of Direct Sales at Onguard Microsoft Excel spreadsheets have much to offer. For those working in accounts and credit management departments, using them often becomes second nature, an extension of their own brains, a reflex action or at least, like collaborating with a loyal and trusted friend. In fact, often it might seem that organising and sharing data, tracking orders, scheduling tasks and managing workloads just wouldn’t be possible without them. However, sometimes the use of basic standard software is nothing more than a legacy of the past. Businesses stick faithfully to the computer programs they first used to get themselves up and running. Then, because they are so familiar, they ignore the fact that these programs and processes are being pushed to their limits by their growth and are being forced to go far beyond their intended purposes. Microsoft Excel is a powerful spreadsheet program that allows users to do a lot with raw data but perhaps this program has become too compelling for its own good. Excel spreadsheets are used to make major decisions and often for a whole range of working processes beyond their original remit. Increasingly, users find they can’t keep track of changes, and when working with colleagues, it becomes impossible to keep different versions under control and identical. Once trust has been lost it becomes easy to fall out of love with even the most intuitive of working methods. Plus, quite simply, they are often the wrong tool for the job that credit managers need to achieve – the business has moved on and it’s time to change. After all, spreadsheets were ultimately designed for number crunching, not for storing masses of details about customers; their contact details; sales records; payment history and outstanding balances. Yet as an organisation grows, increasingly all this data is squeezed into spreadsheets like a square peg in a round hole. Using Excel for tracking credit management when the business is small is certainly convenient and it may even work adequately for a little while. Typically, however, it will not take long for the spreadsheet to become weighed down by complexity and this can lead to it becoming slower and slower with errors inevitably creeping into data and functions. When businesses are in an expansion phase, spreadsheets can be a source of frustration and aggravation, often resulting in slow processes and mistakes as their capabilities are stretched almost to breaking point. Credit managers will be no strangers either to other standard areas of frustration that impact spreadsheet-fixated businesses. Users feeling that they are having to do the same monotonous tasks repeatedly is usually a sure-fire sign that the business needs dedicated software. Specialist software can help here, allowing credit managers to maintain control and ensure even tedious tasks are completed efficiently and to a high standard. From inputting data to carrying out credit reviews to managing late payments, specialist software can make workers faster and more productive at their job and bring broader business benefits too. Another challenge becoming increasingly acute is ease of access to information. Business systems are often overflowing with data. However, if users are not able to access that data and process it into useful and valuable information, then it is unlikely to be doing the business much good. Even with custom-designed Microsoft Excel sheets, it is typically a manual, time- consuming task to collect relevant data; keep it up-to- date and make sure it is easily accessible. The risk of incorrect information, inaccurate financials and cash flow mismanagement is also always high. The consequences of these kind of errors can be severe in financial and reputational terms. With the right dedicated credit management software, however, organisations and their users can access that data and turn it into intelligence that can help the company survive and thrive. Chief financial officers can, for example, use the data to spot trends, examine growth and monitor progress while credit managers can use it to create a credit scoring model and identify the largest customer credit applications, for example. The big advantage of the best quality specialist credit management software is that unlike spreadsheets, it has been designed specifically with credit professionals in mind. That means that it will typically integrate with relevant business systems that the customer has and provide a variety of tools for streamlining workflow. Moreover, it will automate many everyday tasks like data entry, processing payments and correspondence. Added to this, its specialist nature 2