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What would be your ideal toolkit?

We’ve all created way too many Excel Spreadsheets that do standard types of reporting/data manipulation.

What is in your ideal toolkit. Let’s say you could have up to 25 spreadsheets, all with the availability to be linked (where necessary), error and logic checked, using “best practice”.

What would those sheets be?

Let’s start with the basics:

    1. Balance Sheet
    2. Income Statement
    3. Cash Flow

But then I’d also want:

    1. Balance Sheet comparative
    2. Balance Sheet against budget
    3. Income Statement comparative
    4. Income Statement against budget
    5. Budget
    6. Cash Flow
    7. Cash Flow comparative
    8. Cash Flow against budget

So here I have 8 + 3 sheets (or 11 sheets, almost half my 25) right off the bat. All would be able to do monthly, quarterly and YOY.

What else?


Bradford Marcus
Title: BDO/Account Executive
Company: Atwell Companies, The
(BDO/Account Executive, Atwell Companies, The) |

Possibly a summary aging report to detect rising dos and problem accounts. If accounts receivable is slow /late or not paid it affects all the other sheets in the future.

Chris Shumate
Title: Accounting Manager
Company: Dominion Development Group, LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Accounting Manager, Dominion Development Group, LLC) |

I'd like to know when a company would get to the point where it'd need to hire additional staff and what it would do to the payroll and related benefits, as well as IT costs.

There could be three spreadsheets that could show three different budgeting scenarios, one for rapid growth, one for sales decline, and one for what the general budget would be (more conservative).

Knowing how sales figures correlate to the income statement would be great to know so that decisions could be made on bonus calculations, hiring expectations, and potential for investing in new markets.

I think Bradford has a great addition that could be added because even if sales figures are increasing if the cash isn't being received timely it might be time to cut off, or at least limit, a particular customer's credit.

Len Green
Title: Performance Improvement Consultant and E..
Company: Haygarth Consulting LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist, Haygarth Consulting LLC) |

I am going to take the liberty of our friendship to comment that the starter list is for me not so much a "toolkit" but a rather large assortment of "things held together by financial duct tape." :)

Apart from very small companies where reliance on Excel may be tolerated, all those tabs listed above with examples of reports should be on the CFO Dashboard of his/her financial management software. May I show you an example?

Duct tape is good, but it is not the cure for all ailments:)


Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

While this may be true, many a PE firm and Board requires voluminous reporting in a format of their choosing, not the accounting systems.

In addition, there are other toolkit items I did not mention that would be dependent on your business (and who you report to) such as:

Ratio's (all sorts, from DSO to Inv Turnover, etc.
M&A calculations
Inventory analysis

and the list goes on.

These reports rely on (mostly) data retrieved from the accounting system, but are developed and maintained outside that environment.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

So there hasn't been much interest in this topic and I wonder...

Do you take with you from job to job a portfolio of spreadsheets to re-use or do you re-create the wheel at each and every job?

Chris Shumate
Title: Accounting Manager
Company: Dominion Development Group, LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Accounting Manager, Dominion Development Group, LLC) |

I'll have to admit that I have a portfolio of sorts of spreadsheets that I re-use. One of the main reasons I do this is because I'm not good at what I refer to as making spreadsheets pretty. I've done data dumps that involved over 75,000 rows in Excel and drew conclusions from that research, however putting it into a "pretty" spreadsheet that others will find useful is not my strong suit.

A financial toolkit item that would be beneficial for the construction side of the company I work for would revolve around estimating and scheduling. Knowing about how long it takes for certain portions of construction to finish and what trigger should be used to start mobilizing on the next phase of construction could help reduce time spent on the job by highly paid construction managers and superintendents.

It'd be great if the estimating portion could be used to start issuing purchase orders for materials and construction contracts for turnkey subs and labor only subs. That last part may be too advanced for excel and would require an interface with construction-specific software.

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