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Excel Experts are Not the Workforce of the Future

Apr 07, 2016

First released in 1985, Excel was launched during what many would now regard as the digital Stone Age. Yet three decades later, many federal agencies still rely solely on Excel to manage billion-dollar budgets. It’s like trying to stream video on a flip phone – it’s not going to work.

Let’s face it, Excel spreadsheets are not equipped, nor designed to formulate agency-wide budgets with thousands of changing line items. The end result is a budget formulation process that is time-consuming and error-prone.

A recent report found agency CFOs are desperate for Excel experts and begging for analytical talent. There is a flaw in this thinking, however, because agency CFOs need to look past Excel, and thus, Excel experts. The simple adoption of improved technology would eliminate the need for Excel and free up bandwidth to find and develop analytical talent – the type of talent that can turn information into insight.

At the crux of the issue is the question: Would you rather have budget professionals manually entering data or analyzing it? While data entry is a necessary part of life, advances in software mean that the emphasis should be placed on analyzing data to make better, more strategic decisions.

This apparent need for Excel wizardry can instead be addressed by automation. Why manually update budget tables and narratives when technology allows for automated updates in real time? This will free up budget experts’ precious time to focus on key analysis and provide data-informed support to agency executive decision-makers.

In a 2014 federal workforce survey, a stunning 96 percent of federal workers identified a data skills gap at their agency, mainly because agencies fell short in turning information into insight. Respondents also identified funding to modernize IT solutions as a major challenge to addressing the data skills problem.

There is a better way forward and KeyLogic has been making that happen for years. We collaborated with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to create an automated, streamlined budget process for the agency. EPA employees use its Budget Formulation System (BFS) to focus more on budget justification that can lead to increased funding, instead of wasting away hours with manual data entry.

EPA now saves thousands of hours annually through improved budget data collection and reporting, with the ability to produce high-quality, reader-friendly budget deliverables more quickly than before.

To learn more about KeyLogic’s budget capabilities, please click here

Written by: John Mills