Hardly any specialist department can do without Excel today. It allows users to quickly and easily perform complex calculations and solve problems without much programming knowledge. Anyone can work with Excel and – to the regret of IT and compliance departments – the creation of completely uncontrollable Excel solutions is still commonplace.
«AdExcel» («Ad» for Adnvoum) allows avoiding many of the disadvantages of a purely Excel-based solution without having to sacrifice its advantages. «AdExcel» turns Excel documents into a controlled part of your business, compliance and IT processes and protects your budget.
The typical Excel cycle
The cycle that an Excel-based solution typically goes through is quite similar regardless of the task at hand: What starts with a simple Excel evaluation quickly grows into a business-relevant tool. Requirements, number of users and complexity are exploding. It thus becomes increasingly difficult to keep data consistency, versioning and change management under control. The transformation into a software solution provides only a brief relief. With new requirements at the latest, the cycle starts all over again, since the budget is often insufficient for an upgrade of the introduced software.
What to avoid
Excel-based solutions tend to operate outside of company-wide established guidelines, which leads to challenges (figure 2). A number of questions need to be answered such as «Who's working with the master right now?», «Can someone update the outdated data?», «Where are the discrepancies with accounting coming from?», or «What copy did you make the changes in?». These semi-manual data treatment processes not only involve sources of error, but are a nightmare for the Data Privacy Officer and IT.
«AdExcel» – an Adnovum solution
«AdExcel» combines the operational and cost benefits of an Excel solution with the security and compliance of proprietary software, thus making it possible to break the Excel cycle.
It is an integral part of the «AdExcel» solution approach that data experts can continue to work with their favorite tool, Excel, while the insights gained are made available to users via existing and new web applications.
For this purpose, «AdExcel» uses an individually provided application (with or without user interface) that maps all process steps upstream and downstream of the Excel solution and automates them if necessary.The Excel files are managed in SharePoint. This ensures correct versioning, traceability and access control. There is no local file storage. Microsoft Graph API allows the application to read and write Excel files or their contents, and Office Add-ins make it possible to extend Excel based on standard web technologies.
«AdExcel» thus always combines the best of both «worlds»: the existing Excel solution and the applications for mapping the further process steps.
The advantages are numerous
Users can continue to work with their familiar interface and take full advantage of their tool expertise. Relevant work steps remain the same in terms of content, but can be automated using «AdExcel», while it is possible to meet internal and external requirements with regard to secure data processing that is traceable at all times. Changes to an Excel file, the calculations it contains, and data to be entered/retrieved externally are fully documented.
The integrity of data processed using Excel is automatically checked for business rules, regulatory requirements, etc., which eliminates the potential for errors caused by incorrectly or incompletely imported or entered data sets. The verification of the integrity is not limited to the Excel file itself. It can be extended to external systems, creating a complete audit trail also in relation to the processed data itself. All data may be used as desired and directly by other IT systems, processed further, and written back to the source Excel file if required.