When the electronic spreadsheet was first introduced to the business world in the late 1970s and early 1980s, it became an almost immediate success. The usefulness, adaptability and power of spreadsheets proved to be a strong draw and, arguably, helped launch the broad-based adoption of personal computers in business. Today, electronic spreadsheets are ubiquitous – and for good reason. They have become an indispensable tool for those involved in financial calculations and modeling.
A recent article on AccountingWEB.com, quoting a survey of financial executives, revealed that 92 percent of all public companies use spreadsheets for critical accounting activities. Uses varied from revenue accounting entries to revenue scheduling, allocation and redistribution. The article contends that spreadsheets are widely used because many key revenue recognition and reporting tasks are still not fully automated in Financial and ERP systems.
Paradoxically, what makes spreadsheets so attractive is at the root of their shortcomings.