Excel-Based Reporting and Budgeting Masks Oracle Limitations for Media Publisher

With business finances, the devil is in the tiniest of details, yet The Halifax Herald Ltd. (The Herald) had struggled with reporting detailed business data from its Oracle E-Business Suite since installing the ERP system in 1999. The independently-owned publisher of The Chronicle Herald newspaper and other media products for Atlantic Canada found standard Oracle tools for reporting financial data time-consuming and cumbersome, requiring multiple, error-prone manual steps. Likewise, the company had also experienced delays using Oracle’s seeded spreadsheet for pushing budget data to the ERP system.

To improve its financial reporting and budgeting processes, the company explored Oracle options, but these proved cost prohibitive and unfriendly for users. An online search revealed third-party Microsoft Excel-based financial reporting and budgeting tools from insightsoftware as potential options that were both highly functional and cost-effective in terms of price and ongoing support.

Software Benefits Multiple Report Types

In 2015, The Herald purchased licenses of insightsoftware’s Excel4apps Wands Excel-based reporting tool, which installed quickly and needed little to no IT support. Featuring a quick drill down into real-time data through an Excel interface, the financial reporting tool eliminated manual keying and exporting. Also, it required no additional hardware or software and didn’t impact the Oracle system.

The Herald saw benefits soon after implementing the Excel-based reporting tool. One reason was the software’s ease of use because its interface was Excel, a finance user’s tool of choice. And, for the previously time-intensive and error-prone monthly reporting process, the new software brought significant efficiencies.

“This reporting tool easily saves one day for just that one set of month-end reports,” Salter said. “Plus, if something changes, we simply push the journal entry to Oracle and hit refresh in the new tool and it updates the entire linked workbook. There’s no redo of data, and no static unlinked reports that must all be manually changed as before.”

In addition, The Herald finance group reproduced department expense reports in the new reporting software so that they provide the same data, but faster and in more detail. The software’s instant drill downs into live Oracle data provided faster resolution of anomalies.

Tool Adds Higher Fidelity to Budget Data

In anticipation of its budgeting season, The Herald purchased a tool from the same vendor that instantly uploads data to Oracle from Excel. The company recently added product codes and other details to support budgeting by product as opposed to department alone and wanted faster performance than Oracle’s seeded spreadsheet to allow more time for management review.

“We saw how easy it is to push the budgets back up to Oracle with the Excel-based budgeting tool,” said Salter. “You can use any format you want; you just need the correct formulas in the tool to push the budgets. It’s much easier than the Oracle alternative.”

Read the full case study to learn about the other benefits The Herald receives from Excel-based financial reporting and budgeting.