CFOs love a spreadsheet and don’t trust the cloud

We just ran a short survey with the 20 CFOs coming to an event we are running and asked them what they used to produce sales forecasts. It was an open question with no prescribed answers. Participants ranged from Series A Venture backed businesses to FTSE 250 companies.

Bean counters prefer Excel

Bean counters prefer Excel

We got 19 answers.
  • 17 of the CFOs use Microsoft Excel to produce their forecasts taking information from multiple sources. (Some of these organisations mentioned taking information from sources such as Salesforce – one commented that they wouldn’t want that sort of analysis loose in cloud).
  • 2 of the CFOs use Salesforce to produce forecasts (although one of these was just using it for the first time so wasn’t able to comment on how easy she found it).

Made us wonder:

  • Do CFOs get the cloud?
  • Is Microsoft Excel still the de facto standard for sales forecasting activities or will Saleforce win this battle in the next couple of years?
  • Are there are any other good forecasting options for CFOs of growth businesses?
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3 responses to “CFOs love a spreadsheet and don’t trust the cloud”

  1. Chris Salt says:

    The reason most CFOs wouldn’t use Salesforce is that it is kept up to date by sales people who cannot be relied on to provide useful information and even if they do, it is usually hopelessly optimistic. (Unless they are trying to talk their targets down.) They also lie at different rates so it is impossible to know what to believe.

  2. From @Tomwood: @MarkLittlewood re financial forecasting – this is what we use, excel-based as well though:

  3. Oh dear. Someone was having a bad day but not sure that I can agree with the sentiment Chris.

    Every company operates in different ways and employs different kinds of people but I think you may have been a little unlucky to find that every sales person you have worked with lies… 🙂

    One of the major issues causing this is that very often those involved in inputting information into a forecast have no idea, or know exactly, why it is being produced. (No idea means it is less likely to be considered valuable use of time. Know exactly and your sales people know you will automatically double anything they suggest so they lowball).

    There are lots of things that you can do about it and I will pull a blog post together summarising some of the thoughts, and tips and tricks, of those that attended this morning.