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Integrating Microsoft Excel within Your ERP Environment for Live Reporting & Analysis

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Organizations go to great lengths to implement enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and for very good reasons. ERP systems support data centralization and eliminate islands of information caused by software applications that do not communicate. Despite these compelling reasons and the overall benefits of ERP systems in general, many users find them rigid and difficult to adapt to certain workflows and business processes.

In particular, financial and business analysts and accountants often cite the difficulty of creating financial reports within an ERP system’s data warehouse environment. In many cases, these financial ERP users depend on information technology (IT) staff to program the query, which takes times and creates dependency on another department. While having a standing request for scheduled reports might work, running ad hoc reports that must be reviewed quickly by staff or delivered at the request of an executive can become an ordeal. Such pronounced dependency on the IT department from finance creates a high probability that productivity will be compromised, deadlines missed and stress levels elevated. What’s more, data warehouses are expensive to maintain from an IT perspective and require a separate server.

Because of the programming required to create financial reports in a data warehouse environment, many financial ERP users often resort to manually cutting and pasting information from the ERP system into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. This time consuming process takes valuable time that they should instead
spend in analyzing data.

So why is Excel such an efficient reporting tool for financial users? Simple: It’s more familiar and intuitive than many ERP system reporting tools, allowing them to work more productively. Today, financial users are even going a step further by requesting Excel-based reporting tools that are directly integrated with
ERP system data as opposed to a data warehouse.

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