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SAAF Education Blog: The Failings of Excel | Financial Tools for Schools

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The Failings of Excel | Financial Tools for Schools

Imagine – you’ve spent hours putting data into an Excel spreadsheet, only to find you’ve typed in the wrong number, or accidentally missed out an important line of data. Ever wondered if there was an easier way? Could purpose-built budgeting software prove more useful?

Let’s look at Excel and its limitations, and some of the alternatives that can help you handle modern budgeting in schools.

Spreadsheets in schools

For decades, Excel has been the backbone for school offices, providing help for administrators, secretaries, and accountants to balance the books and handle data. When it was time to do the budgeting, turning to a spreadsheet became almost an automatic response.

However, schools have changed considerably from what they once were, and headteachers and school business managers are under more pressure than ever to work more efficiently so they can save money. So, now’s the time to ask yourself, “can Excel really handle the change?”

Why are businesses switching from spreadsheets?

With people getting tired of the inflexible software, many forward-looking businesses have begun weaning themselves off Excel and looking for alternatives that specifically meet the needs of their business.

Technology media firm Tech Target notes three main reasons for businesses switching from Excel to financial tools:

  • It is prone to errors and unrelated data.
  • It is difficult to manage across multiple departments.
  • It wastes time through manual collection of information needed to prepare a budget.

Famous Excel failings

Excel has been linked to some infamous financial blunders in the past, an unforgettable example being the $6.2 billion trading loss by JP Morgan in 2012.

The simple mistake of adding a value rather than it being averaged caused a huge miscalculation, leading to the loss. An internal report soon found that traders had been using Excel to manually copy and paste data from one spreadsheet to another to measure the risk of certain bets.

This led to using calculations that were half as risky as they actually were, and resulted in a number of people losing their jobs.

However, this is just one example of the flaws in Excel.

According to researchers, Excel’s tendency to auto-format has led to multiple systemic errors in scientific papers.

Analysis has shown that 20% of errors in genetic papers appear because of the software’s auto-correct function changing things such as, gene names to calendar dates or random numbers.

Auto-correcting cells are a major issue within Excel, if you don’t have the right format set for the cells in your spreadsheet, you could be missing a lot of errors.

Scaleable solutions for schools

With the latest push by the Government to have all schools converting to academies, schools will now have more control over their budgets.

This will result in added pressure on the school business manager because of:

  • Raising salaries.
  • Higher pensions.
  • National Insurance contributions.
  • Apprenticeship levy.
  • Budget cuts.
  • Rising pupil numbers.

Now consider some of the benefits of budget management software:

  • Scalable – it will grow with you.
  • Budget forecasting and monitoring.
  • Integration of financial data – manage data from different sources.
  • Analytics – don’t just view the data, use it to make informed business decisions.

Is it worth taking a gamble with your school’s finances?

To find out how our software service can help with the management of your school finances, click here.

Learn more about the SAAF Software

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