How corporate finance leaders use Excel Templates to make their lives easier

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Excel is central to every financial function a company executes. As a part of the Office 365 suite, Excel is used by more than a million companies worldwide, with 731,000 companies in the United States alone depending on it. It’s a versatile and easy-to-use app, and companies show no signs of wanting to let it go.

Despite its prominent use, there are limitations to Excel’s functions. One of its most notorious limitations is the relative lack of flexibility it offers. When creating a new model, for instance, users have to start from scratch by populating the spreadsheet with data and creating a workbook.

Excel templates offer a shortcut when carrying out these tasks. Here are some of the most important ways in which corporate finance professionals use them to kickstart their models and execute tasks.

Model accurate scenarios

What-if analysis is a central part of corporate finance planning. The financial implications of various hypothetical scenarios sheds light on everything from budgeting to cost projections, to cash flow models. Typically, inputs to models are adjusted and their outcomes are evaluated by financial analysts.

Excel templates for finance include business budget templates that extend for up to a year. In addition, corporate finance analysts also use financial projection worksheets that are used to record and track major financial decisions.

For instance, a company’s payroll costs can be entered into these worksheets and modified to view the impact on cash flow at the end of the quarter or the year. Thanks to the worksheet having pre-populated formulae, viewing the impact of changing variables is simple.

As a result, analysts spend less time entering formulas and more time carrying out value-add tasks such as modeling variables and projecting financial scenarios.

Create monthly financial views

Monthly closes are a headache at pretty much every firm, thanks to their hectic nature. No matter how much in advance finance employees gather data, these data always change, and they have to be validated repeatedly before being escalated to the CFO.

Given the urgent and time-bound nature of this process, it makes sense for departments to use pre-populated templates that require employees to merely enter data. The results of these data can be used to provide a quick snapshot of financial performance.

Once these data are exported to consolidated monthly close templates, they can be automatically integrated with numbers from other departments. As a result, finance employees save time by not defining relationships between cell values every time data enters the consolidated spreadsheet.

These monthly views can be quickly exported as reports to the CFO to provide an instant snapshot of how the business fared. Aside from monthly views, these templates can be modified to account for quarterly and half-yearly views, all of which can be consolidated to prepare yearly financial statements.

Create easily understood reports

Financial reporting is an important process that has to go through intense audit checks at every step. Often, changing the value of a cell in a spreadsheet isn’t a matter of simply deleting a value and typing something else in. Teams must document their rationale behind changing those values.

Templates make documenting change simple thanks to preformatted worksheets. Most importantly, they help standardize reporting procedures. When standardized, centralized templates aren’t used, every department follows its own reporting procedure, which makes consolidation and company-wide reporting all the more difficult.

In these cases, teams have to integrate different formats into a single spreadsheet, and this introduces the possibility of errors. Templates reduce errors significantly because data entry tasks are rendered all the more straightforward. While some templates can be complicated, even these require a user to merely enter data and document whatever results are present on the worksheet.

Thus, reports created with these data are more reliable and consistent. When presenting numbers to senior management, finance teams can easily create fresh reports since there’s no need for them to create a format from scratch.

Focus on opportunity analysis

Every business conducts a detailed scenario analysis concerning capital allocation. Should they invest in improving an existing product line, or should more capital be directed towards hiring new employees? These decisions don’t have easy answers, and finance teams spend a lot of time analyzing data.

Given the criticality of these decisions, it’s unthinkable that an employee should spend their time creating a new worksheet from scratch. Instead, it’s far more efficient to use pre-populated ROI analysis templates and cost-benefit analysis worksheets. With the formulas and formats loaded and ready to go, all users have to do is enter their projections.

The result is that more time is spent by employees on actual analysis instead of clerical work. Thanks to this focus on the opportunity, companies can make better capital allocation decisions.

Simplifying corporate finance

Excel templates help corporate finance employees avoid clerical work and add value to their organizations. While they don’t eliminate the manual work that goes into financial modeling, they certainly shortcut the process and help companies arrive at better financial decisions.

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