Head Against WallFrom the Not Just Numbers blog:

I know that many of you, like me, are accountants and a large number of you, no doubt, are responsible for producing monthly management accounts. I’m sure that many of you that aren’t accountants, as Excel users, are responsible for producing some kind of regular monthly, weekly or daily report.

This week’s post is more of a plea, to take a moment out of your busy schedule to stop and have a think about how you go about this regular reporting.

How long do you spend on this each month/week/day?

How long do you think you should be spending?

Let me give you some food for thought.

Is the data for your reports in the same place each month?

Are the reports you’re required to produce in the same format every month/week/day?

It is very rare that the answer to either of these questions is no. For example, if we are talking about management accounts, the data is held in the accounting system in exactly the same format as it was last month – and the management accounts are produced in the same format as last month, usually in an Excel template.

Given Excel’s ability to manipulate data – and perform the same manipulations time and time again, why would the process of producing these reports take more than a few seconds?

Simply create an Excel template that converts the raw data into the final report, and just paste or import the new raw data in each month!

Whichever way you go about it, I urge you to stop and think. Logically, it should only take a few seconds. Any longer means that you are manually doing things every month/week/day that Excel could be doing for you.

If you need any help, I have covered this in more detail previously.

My very first post on this blog (back in September 2008!) was on this subject and gives a brief overview of how you can go about this for a set of management accounts:

Do your management accounts take weeks, days, hours, minutes…or seconds to prepare?

and more recently (November 2013) I wrote a far more detailed explanation of the process in a publication published by the IT Faculty of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales (ICAEW) entitled:

Automating management accounts production in Excel: a simple approach

(This is free to members of the IT Faculty or the ICAEW’s Excel community or £25 to purchase for everyone else, from the ICAEW at the link above).

If you want, I can even set it up for you as this is a job that I have done for many clients over the years.

Whatever you do, I urge you not to just go back to a time-taking and unnecessary monthly/weekly/daily process.

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