Recognising the love affair with Excel
Accountants and Managers love Excel, a generalisation perhaps but FinancialForce has not only realised that this is true but has also improved its integration with Excel by adding FinancialForce XL plus. It allows the extraction of data into Excel instantly creating formatted spreadsheets instantly ready for further manipulation.
Roberts elaborated further: “I think fundamentally we’ve come to the conclusion that woe betide anyone who tries to rip a spreadsheet out of the hands of an accountant. I think that is a losing battle because they use that tool for analysis and formatting and whatever.
“What we do is give them a way of securely connecting excel to the cloud, allows you to use reports as data sources, to refresh them at any time. So Excel becomes a client, the data doesn’t live in there but you can use it to format and analyse data which I think is the best of worlds from an accountants perspective because it is their favourite tool and their data is secure in the cloud.”
FinancialForce XL Plus is a plug in for Excel that uses the Salesforce security features, so if two factor authentication is set up this will also be required. Sensibly FinancialForce has also included a number of templates within the plug which means that when an accountant downloads the data it is formatted nicely removing the time consuming process of reformatting the spreadsheet before they can actually start to build formula’s around it for additional reporting.
The new FinancialForce Financial Management also adds FinancialForce XL Plus, allowing users to work more productively with Microsoft Excel for financial statements and other reports. Using FinancialForce XL Plus, users can securely authenticate to FinancialForce ERP, choose from dozens of pre-defined templates, or any Salesforce App Cloud report, and pull it into Excel.
When asked whether this can be a two way process Roberts believed that it would be possible to push back a journal into FinancialForce from the Excel spreadsheet using the plug in. It was not designed for this but it will be interesting to see whether user feedback enhances this facility in the future.
FinancialForce have another enhancement for Excel loving accountants. A new feature called Action Views allows user to manipulate data in an Excel like row and column format that is not seeking to replicate the power of Excel delivers a simple reporting interface where the data remains in the cloud. There are two advantages of this, the data remains securely held in the cloud, it is possible to drill down beyond the traditional chart of accounts into any data field accessible to ViewThru™ and simple conditional formatting formulae can be used to allow the view to be beautified and printed or displayed as a professional report.
It is possible to update data from an action view, though what and how need further investigation. What will be interesting is whether these features are enhanced to become an extension of Office365, combining the best of both solutions where data is held securely in the cloud but can be manipulated even further.
(next: The Final Wave)