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Need For Excel Skills Falling By The Wayside, CFOs Say

“Spreadsheet” can be a four-letter word in corporate finance, but analysts say professionals continue to rely on the manual tool for everything from reconciliation to payroll.

Now, research from Adaptive Insights suggests companies’ reliance on Excel spreadsheets is on the wane.

Reports in CPA Practice Advisor on Wednesday (Feb. 28) said Adaptive Insights’ new chief financial officer (CFO) indicator report found CFOs agree that automation has lessened the importance of professionals’ need for Excel skills. Two years ago, 78 percent of CFOs said proficiency in Excel is the most important skill for their financial planning and analysis (FP&A) teams. Today, just 5 percent agree.

Rather, CFOs today say metrics performance tracking, and collaboration across the enterprise, are the most important skills in this area. CFOs also value new hires’ proficiency with technologies.

“We’ve seen CFOs increasingly take on the role of chief data officers in their organizations,” said Adaptive Insights CFO Jim Johnson in a statement. “At the same time, CFOs recognize the limitations in the way they manage and analyze data today and know it will only get worse with the proliferation of more systems with siloed data. That’s why Excel skills aren’t ranked as a top skill any longer. Proficiency in Excel is a given today. The new skills finance leaders need are those that can use technologies to access, analyze and amplify data for insights to better manage the business.”

Adaptive Insights’ report also found that 40 percent of CFOs adopt automated solutions because they need to “deliver faster, higher quality insights” to company stakeholders. When looking for automated solutions, CFOs prioritize forecasting abilities as well as dashboards to display data insights.

Two-thirds of CFOs told researchers automation has delivered the benefits they were after, including time savings for professionals to focus on more strategic initiatives. A third, however, said a lack of time is their largest barrier to adopting automated solutions.

The vast majority (89 percent) also said they expect artificial intelligence software to impact the enterprise finance function within the next five years.


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