Alan Whitehouse's Ramblings

Continuing to work until my heavy investment in lottery tickets finally pays off….

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Deep Thought

    Historically speaking, all true change in the world has come thanks to leaders emerging, them taking charge and giving the masses someone to rally around. Can an intentionally "leaderless" movement survive or will it just slowly fade away?

  • Subscribe

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 18 other followers

  • Me!

  • Disclaimer

    The views expressed in this blog, while intelligent and always right, are strictly my own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of anyone else with which I am in any way affiliated. And don't forget, I own the rights to all information on this blog (except for the stuff I stole from other people).
  • Current Rant

    *START OF RANT*

    You want change, then get involved. Vote, run for office, go to shareholder meetings and contact advertisers or investors. Sitting around banging drums, singing kumbaya, smoking weed and having a camp out under the stars is not going to get you the change you want.

    *END OF RANT*
  • Admin Stuff

TGO Budgeting Solution – Why Excel for the End User Interface

Posted by Alan on February 1, 2011

As we at TGO Consulting were working on designing the high-level architecture plan for the TGO Budgeting Solution we had to decide upon the interface the end-user would use to interact with the system. In the past I have worked with solutions that use Excel for the interface, Office Web Components  presented through Internet Explorer and custom data grids that look like Excel but aren’t quite.  When it came time to decide we ultimately went with full-fledged Excel, even though there are some technical and business process challenges associated with using it.

So what were the factors that tipped the scales in favour of Excel?   Some of them were that:

  • Practically everyone has worked with it and done budgeting with it
  • Most organizations have at least one “super user” who can turn it on its ear
  • Users can leverage well known formulas like SUM, AVERAGE and IF as well as lesser known formulas like SLN, DB, CEILING and ROUND
  • It has excellent Copy/Paste, Drag, Sort and Filter  functionality
  • Users can add Conditional Formatting and Charts/Graphs to provide visual clues during the budgeting process

When it is all said and done, from the point of view of the individual user, Excel is probably the perfect interface for the capture of budgeting information.  So why doesn’t every solution use Excel?  It all comes down to the fact that Excel is really geared towards single user interaction and not group interaction and the budgeting process rarely occurs in a vacuum.  As you add more and more users to your budgeting process the problems of using Excel grow exponentially.  Some of these problems include the:

  • Creation of dozens (or hundreds) of individual spreadsheets to send to individual users is difficult to accomplish and very time consuming
  • Lack of insight into where the process stands in terms of completeness and the countless back and forth emails as people submit, approve and/or reject their budgets
  • Tedious and sometimes difficult task of merging these dozens or hundreds of spreadsheets together to form the completed budget
  • Inability to add new members (e.g., Departments, Natural Accounts, etc.) once the process has started without having to recall and restart from scratch
  • Loss of any comments once the budgets are submitted and consolidated when doing future budget to actual comparisons

So the problems with Excel that I listed above are what our solution will seek to address.  We will be doing this through the creation of a custom add-in accessible through the Ribbon Bar written in .NET using Visual Studio 2010.   This add-in will allow the end-user to use all the Excel functionality they want while addressing the issues that Excel causes in a multi-user budgeting environment.   In addition, we will be building an Excel add-in that is geared towards designing  budget templates as well as doing some cool stuff in SharePoint to deal with the needed administration functions.  All of those items along with other exciting topics such as dynamically constructing MDX queries on the fly and implementing SSAS dimension member security in such a way that finance people can understand it will be covered in future posts.  Plus as an added bonus we will soon have some draft screen shots to post as well.

Advertisements

One Response to “TGO Budgeting Solution – Why Excel for the End User Interface”

  1. […] więcej: TGO Budgeting Solution – Why Excel for the End User Interface … and-custom, but-aren, came-time, components, data-grids, for-the, have-worked, interface, […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: