In our previous blog post, you could read why many financials still love Excel and what the limitations are when using Excel ‘loose’. Especially for companies that are very hung up on Excel but would like to get more out of it, we highlight the tools Fluence and Vena. Both are low-threshold tools that are fully integrated into Excel and offer additional functionalities, such as workflows and audit trails.
Vena Solutions for financial planning and forecasting
Vena is an FP&A tool that does not replace Excel, but rather embraces it. Because all data is stored in one central database – including version control – there are no more doubts about data quality, actuality and integrity. In Vena, you can see which data has been sent, and when someone has added or modified a data record or template. Moreover, with built-in workflows, data no longer needs to be copied manually from one file to another, but the user is taken through the whole process step by step. As a result, the focus of FP&A is now more on analysing the data and less on ‘data crunching’.
The strength of Vena is that it can be fully integrated into Microsoft platforms. This creates possibilities for email notifications, comments and chats via Teams, sharing documents or links to documents, among others. In short: you can take advantage of all the collaboration opportunities Microsoft offers.
Fluence Technologies for financial close and consolidation
Fluence is a cloud-based consolidation and reporting tool that saves you a lot of time converting your (Excel) data into accurate, up-to-date and transparent reports. It combines the look and feel of Excel with intuitive, automated workflows. With seamless integration with Excel, Fluence can automate financial consolidation, streamline the reporting process and provide real-time insight into companies’ financial performance.
Excel as the (known) basis
Even if you combine Excel with Vena or Fluence, Excel technology remains the (familiar) basis for the templates and reports. Indeed, often you can even keep working with the same templates. This makes switching to Vena and Fluence a significantly smaller change than switching to another system. Everyone knows Excel. This makes user adaptation much easier.
Other packages often have a different way of building reports, forcing you to learn a new way. As a result, these reports often look less slick. The reports in Fluence and Vena remain recognisable as Excel reports. So recognisable that it sometimes seems to end users that nothing has changed. So combining Vena and Fluence with Excel allows you to stay close to your current processes.
Quick and easy to implement
Because much of the logic and functionality is in Excel and reports do not need to be rebuilt, Vena and Fluence are quick to implement, usually within 3 months. This is achievable because specialist (IT) knowledge is not required. The systems are very accessible, so you as an Excel user can also contribute a lot to building and implementing them. This is a big difference from tools that do not use Excel. For those, as a customer, you need a much longer learning curve to master the solution.
10 good reasons to combine Excel, Vena and Fluence
- Complete audit trails, detailed insight into who changed what and when.
- Workflows, e.g. for modification, review and approval.
- Integrated into Excel: Vena and Fluence work as an additional tab in Excel or Office Online. The functionality is integrated in Excel.
- No installation required: to use Vena in combination with Excel, you do not need to install any software on your PC. Fluence only requires the installation of an Excel add-in.
- Always up-to-date data: Vena and Fluence are linked to a central database. When you open Excel, the data are automatically refreshed. So you always have up-to-date and correct data.
- Centralisation of templates: each template only needs to be defined once, and is then available to every relevant user. So everyone uses the same templates. And once everyone has provided input, all this data automatically comes together in the right templates. This ensures overview and uniformity.
- Well secured: with Vena and Fluence, you work entirely from a secure environment. Any user or end user of the reports can only enter or edit data to the extent necessary to provide their input to the budgets. Modifying templates can only be done by managers.
- AVG-proof: sending customer data via e-mail violates the AVG. The risk of data ending up in the wrong place is high. Within the secure environment of Vena and Fluence, it is possible to set different roles and authorisations. This ensures that you are compliant with AVG regulations.
- Always compliant: in Vena and Fluence, you only need to adapt each template once to updates of IFRS, GAAPs or other laws, regulations or calculation rules. Any reporting based on that template then automatically complies with the new rules.
- Adding draft calculations: in practice, many professionals still work with Excel for separate calculations. Vena and Fluence offer the possibility of adding a draft calculations option to Excel. Thereby, it is both possible to include draft calculations in the data or add them as attachments if desired.