Evolving from its introduction in 1985, Microsoft’s Excel has long been the favored spreadsheet program for financial professionals, offering undeniable power and versatility.
However, the recent surge in cloud computing, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with the exponential growth of data collection, has fundamentally transformed our work environments.
In today’s collaborative and cloud-based business landscape, the distinct advantages of Google Sheets shine through. Despite this, numerous finance and business professionals continue to utilize Excel spreadsheets in the same traditional manner learned in the pre-cloud era. This includes individuals who have transitioned to Microsoft’s cloud-based Microsoft 365 suite.
For instance, imagine a scenario where a team of financial analysts within a company is still heavily reliant on Excel spreadsheets stored locally on individual computers.
This limits their ability to collaborate in real-time, hampers efficient data sharing, and presents challenges when working remotely or with distributed teams.
To fully adapt to the modern world ecosystem and harness the benefits of cloud computing, finance professionals need to consider embracing Google Sheets as their go-to spreadsheet solution.
Transitioning from Excel to Google Sheets can bring significant advantages, as I discovered when my industrial machinery manufacturing company migrated its 11,000 employees to Google Workspace (formerly G-suite) in 2016.
Since then, I have become proficient in Google Sheets through self-guided learning, leveraging its innovative capabilities for financial data analytics.
In this blog, I am to share my firsthand experience of the advantages offered by Google Sheets. I will highlight the features of Google Apps Script – an invaluable tool for automating workflows and expanding the functionality of Google Sheets.
Join me on this journey as we explore some remarkable benefits of transitioning to Google Sheets.
Google Sheets offers several advantages over Excel. One key advantage is its seamless collaborative functionality, allowing multiple users to work on a sheet simultaneously.
Additionally, Google Sheets integrates with BigQuery, enabling it to handle large projects and data sets efficiently. Another advantage is the automation opportunities provided by Google Apps Script.
While Excel and other software also offer these capabilities, Google has designed them to be intuitive and user-friendly, making it easier for finance professionals to adapt and derive tangible benefits from using Google Sheets, even if they are resistant to change.
The most immediate benefit of using Google Sheets is its seamless collaboration capabilities. Unlike traditional methods where a single person owns and manages a master file stored in shared folders or exchanged through emails, Sheets offers multiple modes of collaboration.
Users can work independently and at different times on the same file, utilizing features such as comments and task assignments to communicate and track progress.
Additionally, real-time simultaneous editing enables teams to collaborate in real-time, enhancing productivity and efficiency.
Google Sheets incorporates smart chips that provide quick access to relevant information without the need to navigate away from the document. These intelligent chips include people chips that identify task owners and provide contact details, as well as file and calendar chips that offer additional context and related materials.
The timeline view feature enhances this functionality by allowing users to visualize time-related data. With these smart chips, Sheets becomes a centralized hub for not only financial analysis but also for project management, activities, and comprehensive information integration.
Real-time collaborative editing in Google Sheets allows highly skilled individuals to work together on building financial or operating models simultaneously. The productivity and efficiency achieved in this collaborative environment far surpass the traditional way of working.
Multiple cursors, distinguished by different colors, can be seen moving across the screen, resembling a captivating time-lapse video of a painting being created.
Furthermore, Google Sheets accommodate different types of participants, as not everyone needs editing privileges. With view and comment-only options, data integrity and security are upheld while providing necessary visibility to relevant stakeholders.
Avoid the frustration of spreadsheet crashes and version control issues with Google Workspace’s built-in version tracking. Unlike traditional file management, where multiple versions are circulating among colleagues and chaos can ensue, Google Workspace ensures a single file through the project’s lifespan.
By accessing the “see version history” option, you can view a comprehensive timeline of all edits made, including the name of the person responsible for each change. This feature allows you to effortlessly rewind any previous point in the file’s history, from its creation to the present.
Additionally, for individual cells, the ‘show edit history” option lets you track changes, including who made them, when, and to which value.
Google Sheets provides essential functionality for financial professionals to import and work with data in spreadsheets. It offers built-in formulas, including the Google Finance formula, which allows direct data revival from Google Finance.
While it may not match the capabilities of dedicated financial services like Bloomberg, Google Sheets remains a valuable tool for obtaining public stock and currency information.
For instance, you can utilize it to retrieve closing bell prices for Alphabet stock in January 2018, enabling seamless integration of external data into your financial analyses.
In addition to specific formulas like Google Finance, Google Sheets offers versatile capabilities for extracting data from the web. One valuable functionality is the ability to directly extract HTML tables or lists from websites.
This feature proves particularly useful when working with the financial, market, or publicly available information that you need to retrieve and analyze. By effortlessly importing web data into Google Sheets, financial professionals can efficiently incorporate and manipulate relevant information within their spreadsheets.
Google Sheets has drawbacks that may hinder its widespread adoption. The reliance on collaboration limits the extent to which some features can be fully utilized, especially in organizations with uneven adoption.
Users accustomed to Excel find occasional small annoyances, such as unexpected keyboard shortcuts or missing features, to be more pronounced.
Furthermore, the absence of certain plugins available for Excel requires users to toggle between the two applications when specific functionality is required.
In conclusion, Google Sheets offers a vibrant and dynamic platform for financial professionals, empowering them to excel in their spreadsheet endeavors. Despite some limitations and the need for wider adoption, the benefits of seamless collaboration, version control, data integration, and web extraction are undeniable.
While encountering a few quirky annoyances along the way, these are mere hiccups on the path to spreadsheet greatness.
So, don your spreadsheet superhero cape, embrace the power of Google Sheets, and let your financial wizardry shine through colorful cells and magical formulas.