78% of Canadian businesses still using spreadsheets as their primary source of business analytics, study finds

May 9, 2016 by SAP News 0

TORONTO, Canada — May. 09, 2016 —The vast majority of Canadian organizations still rely on spreadsheets as their primary tool of business analytics, which may be leaving them at a competitive disadvantage, according to a new study by CFERF, the Canadian Financial Executives Research Foundation, the research foundation of FEI Canada, and sponsored by SAP Canada Inc., a subsidiary of SAP SE (NYSE: SAP).

The survey of 118 senior Canadian financial executives was carried out to discover which data analysis tools Canadian organizations are using today, their level of satisfaction with those tools, and the level of data integration within organizations. It found:

  • 79% of executives feel their current financial reporting and analytics tools only somewhat meet their business’s needs.
  • 65% of businesses do not use or have no access to real-time reporting tools.
  • Only 4% of executives consider themselves industry leaders in financial reporting.
  • 29% have plans to invest in financial reporting and analytics infrastructure this year.
  • If only one aspect of financial reporting and analytics could be improved, 27% of respondents want more advanced analytics (the highest ranked response).

“Reliance on spreadsheets is symptomatic of broken systems, characterized by off line processes, redundant data, and wasted human effort in data entry and reconciliations,” said Arthur Gitajn, CFO, SAP Canada Inc. “Today, when terabytes of data can be analyzed in seconds and accessed in real time on tablets and smartphones, it makes little sense to rely on static spreadsheets as analytical tools.”

“The CFO is responsible for maintaining controls over the accuracy of financial information.  In addition to providing live information, integrated Business Intelligence tools help to safeguard system data as the single source of financial truth,” he said.

Breaking down the statistics by company size, 91% of small businesses (<100 employees) and 76% of medium-sized businesses (101-500 employees) predominantly use spreadsheets for business analysis, however that number fell to 50% for organizations with more than $1B in revenue.

“This continued dependence on spreadsheets today may be indicative of a lack of resources holding CFOs back from fully developing their data analytics capabilities,” said Michael Conway, President and CEO, FEI Canada. “Demands on businesses are extensive and growing, and real-time analytics can help with tasks such as forecasting performance, market research, profit margin analysis, risk assessment and management, operations and product pricing.”

“The problem with spreadsheets is that the information is often not timely or intrinsically insightful enough. Larger companies are embracing live analysis and moving away from spreadsheets at a faster rate than small to medium-sized businesses however, it seems almost all businesses have yet to eradicate the problem of disparate and static data sets slowing down operations and adding to manual workloads.”

FEI Canada’s report includes commentary from CFOs and other senior financial  executives in Toronto, Calgary and Montreal, who attended a roundtable discussion on the opportunities available to improve their ability to derive insights from data.

“Spreadsheets have become the norm,” said John Forester, CFO, DBG Canada, in Mississauga. “Every person in our organization has their own version of a spreadsheet. I don’t know if the spreadsheet is updated, who has looked at it last and whether the data is current. The question is can we move away from spreadsheets into something which is more disciplined, more defined, a tool that everybody understands and is used consistently, as opposed to having each person come in a room with their own version of the truth?”

Niall Cotter, CFO, Kingsdale Shareholder Services, agreed spreadsheets are static. “In a business intelligence report, I can almost flick over all the various areas that I want to see. If I want to view metrics by campaign, by person, by graph, or whatever, I can do it without having to go to separate tabs; it’s all there, it’s in real time and I find that very powerful.”

Click here to read the full FEI Canada research report titled Data Analytics in Canada

About Financial Executives International Canada (FEI Canada)
FEI Canada is the all-industry professional membership association for senior financial executives. With eleven chapters across Canada and more than 1,600 members, FEI Canada provides its members with thought leadership, advocacy services and extensive professional development opportunities — including its executive education offering, the CFO Leadership Beyond Finance program. The association membership, which consists of Chief Financial Officers, Audit Committee Directors and senior executives in the Finance, Controller, Treasury and Taxation functions, represents a significant number of Canada’s leading and most influential corporations. Further information can be found at www.feicanada.org.

About the Canadian Financial Executives Research Foundation
CFERF is the non-profit research institute of FEI Canada. The foundation’s mandate is to advance the profession and practices of financial management through research. CFERF undertakes objective research projects relevant to the needs of Canada’s senior financial executives in working toward the advancement of corporate efficiency in Canada.

About SAP

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