Essential Guide

A guide to using Excel as financial accounting software

Organizations continue to use Microsoft Excel for finance, but using additional software has become a necessity. Here's our guide to making the most of Excel -- and recognizing when it's time to leave it behind.


For the finance and accounting departments, Microsoft Excel is a blank canvas on which they paint financial data to tell stories of business health, plan smart budgets and forecast financial trends. Sure, Excel is not as flashy or automated as the new cloud-based financial tools, and human entry error is always a risk. The enormous task of migrating users to another system can also stand in the way. For now, though, the longstanding tool inspires some serious loyalty.

Indeed, 63% of U.S. companies still use the software for budgeting and long-range planning, according to the 2016 edition of the "Benchmarking the Accounting and Finance Function" by Robert Half.

So the question is: What should you know about Excel for accounting and finance? This guide gives you critical information to answer that question.

Section 1 tackles must-know Excel tips and tricks such as setting a password to open or modify a workbook. Section 2 shares how to make the most of Excel functionality such as determining when Excel is right for business intelligence. Section 3 explores the idea of whether it's time to leave Excel behind. Lastly, a glossary of key terms associated with financial accounting software is included. To wrap things up, see how much you've learned by taking a brief quiz.


1Tips and tricks-

Financial accounting with Excel

Excel may be losing popularity as financial accounting software, but it still plays its role in the enterprise. With certain tricks, users can make Excel a more valuable part of financial processes. Experts share their advice for making the most of Excel's financial accounting capabilities.


Allowing multiple users to share an Excel workbook

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How to use the Excel MATCH function

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Excel pivot tables can help IT cut costs

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How to transfer data between SQL Server databases and Excel

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Requiring a password to open or edit an Excel workbook

Microsoft Excel consultant MrExcel explains how to set a password to open or modify an Excel workbook. Continue Reading

2Best practices-

Managing financial data in Excel -- and beyond

When companies move away from Excel, they often seek tools that will save time by allowing for more automation and better data integrity. But in many cases, Excel continues to hold much of the company's financial data. Users need to make the most of Excel functionality while recognizing where it falls short.

Read on for advice on managing data with Excel, avoiding its pitfalls and, when necessary, making the move to specialized software.


How useful are Excel automation tools?

Users say Excel automation tool Spreadsheet Server reduces manual data entry, but it doesn't nix Excel snags. Continue Reading


When is Excel right for BI tasks?

Companies that use Excel in business intelligence applications need to carefully govern its use to get meaningful BI results. Continue Reading


Macro viruses re-emerge in Word, Excel files

Macro viruses haven't been popular since the early 2000s, but recent malware discoveries indicate that macro-infected Word and Excel files are on the rise. Continue Reading


Six tips for making the move from Excel to BP&F software

Users and experts share tips on replacing spreadsheets with specialized software for budgeting, planning and forecasting. Continue Reading


How to move from Excel to financial management software

Before switching from Excel spreadsheets to financial management software, companies need a plan that aligns with their finance processes -- and one that will scale as the business evolves. Continue Reading

3Case studies-

Excel's changing role in the enterprise

Despite its long history in the enterprise, using Excel alone for financial accounting is no longer a good idea. Is it time for companies to completely rid themselves of their Excel habits and move to new financial accounting software? Or are some companies still finding a place for their spreadsheets in their financial processes?

These case studies explore the question of whether to leave Excel behind.


Corporate finance in Excel is feasible -- but is it desirable?

Spreadsheet governance software can make Excel more suitable for corporate finance, but companies continue to view spreadsheets as a necessary evil. Continue Reading


A farm gear manufacturer chooses Budget Maestro over Excel

A longtime user says Budget Maestro is easier to use than Microsoft Excel for BP&F but needs better formatting for printed reports. Continue Reading


How one company switched from Excel to software as a service CPM

After a careful selection process, Parsons Electric chose Host Analytics, a vendor of cloud corporate performance management (CPM) software, for financial management. Continue Reading


For a hospice company, Excel retains its role

The company saved time, money and labor by replacing Oracle Hyperion with Adaptive Insights CPM software -- but it still uses Excel to prepare and distribute budgets. Continue Reading


Users laud the benefits of tax provisioning software

Companies that scrap Excel for a tax provisioning system report faster closes, more consistency, automatic uploading and other benefits. Continue Reading


Six tips for making the move from Excel to BP&F software

Users and experts share tips on replacing spreadsheets with specialized software for budgeting, planning and forecasting. Continue Reading

4Accounting in Excel quiz-

Prove your Excel know-how

Thinking of using Excel for accounting purposes? You better know a few basic commands to get started.

Take This Quiz


Must-know terms for accounting with Excel

This glossary contains common terms associated with using Excel for accounting that any professional should be well-versed with.