Ditch Excel NOW Before it’s too Late

Every now and again there are articles that say something like, You’re Doomed! Stop using Excel NOW! Budgeting with Excel … PAH! Try something better!

Here’s another one: Insurrection in Excel Nation by Nir Kaissar. In that article you will read, CFOs are telling their employees to stop using Microsoft Corp.’s Excel spreadsheets for “financial planning, analysis and reporting.” and Adobe Inc.’s CFO Mark Garrett told the Journal that he doesn’t want “financial planning people spending their time importing and exporting and manipulating data.” Instead, he wants them to focus on what the data means.

I always reply to these slurs in this way:

Yes, there are dedicated budgeting and statistics programs that will do something fantastic. However, all they do is budgeting and statistics: that’s essentially true. Excel is so much more flexible than that and as Nir says, putting the data into a spreadsheet and learning how to make it talk to you is more than half the battle. We can build templates in excel, too, that will make the data talk to us whatever it is saying. And much more than that.

We Need to Learn More

There is a problem, with Excel, however; and that is not so much the program as its users. I know from my own work and from my training that your average Excel user’s problem is that he doesn’t know enough about what Excel can do. None of us knows everything, even Excel gurus like Debra Dalgleish and Bill Jelen admit to a weakness every now and again.

With some learning and guidance, of course, we can master Excel to make it do more and more. Lifelong learning is the key: do, do and do again. Talk to people. Watch videos on YouTube … keep reading this blog.


I was sent the link to another Wall Street Journal article that includes more the same anti (and pro) spreadsheet stuff. Take a look here.

Tatsuo Horiuchi: Excel Artist

On the other hand, when we do achieve something with Excel there are always naysayers. Take the case of 73 year old Tatsuo Horiuchi from Japan. Since his retirement over a decade ago, Tatsuo has learned to use Excel as an artist and you can see examples of his work here. Tatsuo says he started using Excel for his work because it was free and he found it easier to use than the graphics packages he became aware of. Here is one of his Excel paintings

My point about Tatsuo is that he has found a good use for Excel and he seems more than happy with it. Still, amid all of the praise, some people say such things as:

So, as far as I can tell, these are just images pasted into an XL sheet.

I still don’t get what’s “Excel” about this. I can “ungroup” and move/stretch shapes around, too. But, for instance, there’s a swan in the middle of the cherry blossoms picture. Where did he draw the swan? Did he freehand that using some other software and copy it into Excel?

I watched a video about Tatsuo on YouTube and there are even more negative, silly comments on there.

You can download two of Tatsuo’s Excel files from the web page I have sent you to. Take a look and see what you an do!


Duncan Williamson

6th December 2017 Updated 8th December 2017

%d bloggers like this: