ACL Analytics vs Excel

2012-08-01

Why ACL Desktop?

The question I so often get asked is why, when I have Excel, do I need a tool like ACL Desktop? In this article we’ll consider the pros and cons of common placed tool – Excel, and why it is imperative to consider the alternatives.

Excel has all the familiarity and comfort of a well-worn pair of shoes. For many it is a critical component in their day to day business activities. It’s useful… yes, but reliance on it, even in the face of its limitations, dissuades many from embracing new technologies. Entrenched in the familiar, users would prefer to spend days overcoming simple problems like, “how do I join two data sets?”, by utilising greater and greater complexity, rather than switching analysis to simple, powerful tools, like ACL Desktop.

EndUser tools such as Excel have their place. To deny that would be as foolhardy as the mumpsimus who insist on completing everything in Excel. It is extremely powerful. But… the features that make it great are also those that undermine it. The eBook by ACL’s Peter Millar called “Risky Business: Relying on Spreadsheets for data analysis” takes a balanced and considered look at why alternatives are important.

Three points feature heavily:

  1. Lack of data integrity
  2. Prevalence of errors
  3. IT non-compliance

When you consider alone that error rates of 90% are commonplace, the business case for considering an alternative is overwhelming. Why so many still insist on using spreadsheets is a mystery.

Tools like ACL are designed around audit, they perform activities that Excel cannot, and even where there is overlap, ACL is always quicker, always simpler. And furthermore, essentials like audit trail and data integrity which are integral to ACL Desktop are simply not present in Excel. Don’t be misguided by the fact that ACL Desktop is designed around audit – this simply means the tool assures the completeness and accuracy of its results. And who doesn’t want that?

For a more in depth look at the appraisal, please download “Risky Business: Relying on spreadsheets for data analysis” by Peter Millar.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012 In: Hot Topics Comments (None)

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