Blog

NetSuite Reporting with Microsoft Excel: Part 2

In the first instalment of this three-part blog series, we looked at: the origins of NetSuite and the strength of the reporting available in the system as standard; common NetSuite reporting challenges faced by finance teams; and how adding Excel to your toolkit can give you everything you need to produce a suite of refreshable, self-service NetSuite financial reports.



Having covered the foundations in the previous article, we now turn our attention to some of life’s big questions relating to Excel, and the part that it should play in your NetSuite reporting strategy. We look at:

  • Financial Reporting: The Excel and ERP Fallacy

  • Integrating NetSuite with Excel: Solution 7

  • Enhancing NetSuite Financial Reporting

Financial Reporting: The Excel and ERP Fallacy


Excel is the financial professional’s best friend – there you go, we’ve said it!


All too often (in our opinion), Excel is cast as the ‘bad guy’ in conversations relating to ERP and financial management software. A quick scan of the major ERP, business intelligence, and reporting software vendors’ websites and you will see narratives which suggest that spreadsheets are bad for business, and that you must ‘remove spreadsheets’ from reporting, or ‘eliminate Excel’. Which, whilst understandable, only tells half the story.


Ask yourself this, why do most of these vendors offer an ‘Export to Excel’ button?!


This is probably a topic for another blog, but from our experience, the challenge most businesses face with Excel is not actually an issue with Excel, it is that it is woefully misused for all sorts of tasks other than that for which it is optimally designed – crunching numbers.


As you probably know, if you are reading this article, Excel in the hands of someone who knows their stuff, is possibly the most effective and powerful business software solution in the world. So, by all means, remove it from processes relating to lead capture, order processing, data storage or employee leave requests – but don’t discard it for core financial reporting, embrace it, it’s immense.


Instead of eliminating spreadsheets, the discussion around financial management software (in this instance, NetSuite) and Excel should be about ‘what spreadsheets’, and ‘how can we integrate NetSuite with Excel’ to combine the power of both solutions and make NetSuite data familiar, and accessible to Excel users?


Integrating NetSuite with Excel: Solution 7


Connecting NetSuite to Excel via ODBC, Solution 7 essentially gives experienced Excel users ‘home advantage’ when building reports. Simply and securely accessing the entire NetSuite backend via a purpose-built toolbar and custom Excel functions, users can build interactive and refreshable reports in any format they wish with formulae, filters, standalone data, charts, pivot tables and narrative, and the added advantage that all NetSuite data can be updated with the click of a button - live and in real time.


Sound good? Watch our introductory video here or why not dive in and download a free Solution 7 trial here.


Enhancing NetSuite Financial Reporting


Without stating the obvious, financial reporting is about much more than the numbers on the page. Proper financial analysis requires data, input, and examination from all perspectives to ensure that a full understanding can be achieved.


It is also important to highlight the distinction between data and information. Whilst having all of the data available is a critical element of reporting, it is the accessibility to, presentation, and visualisation of information which empowers people to make better informed decisions.


Solution 7 provides finance teams with an interface to add depth to their reporting and ensure that the relevant information is immediately visible, easily digestible, and available to the relevant people in their business, including non-NetSuite users.


We commonly see users building ‘board packs’ consisting of a suite of financial summaries accompanied by trend graphs, and narratives. As the data is being pulled from NetSuite, users (including non-NetSuite users) can refresh the data at any point to work with the most up-to-date version of the truth and drill-down through reports to query the information behind each number.


Presenting information in Excel also provides more flexibility for building reports. For example, you can change the structure of your General Ledger reporting, without actually touching the GL setup in NetSuite, by simply selecting which fields you wish to include, where, and building a report to reflect your desired alternative.


Users can also easily combine data from different sources, or include manually entered, static data to provide a range of comparisons which may not make sense to include within the core system.


As we mentioned in part one, it basically gives you all the power of NetSuite with the flexibility and familiarity of Excel. It’s a win-win.


In the next, and final, instalment of this series we look into the most common NetSuite financial reports which real-world NetSuite users look to create including month-end board packs, budgeting and forecasting, and OneWorld consolidations. If you have any contributions or questions in the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact us for more information.


About Solution 7


Solution 7’s award-winning SuiteApp provides finance professionals with all the power and capability of NetSuite’s reporting within the familiar and flexible interface of Microsoft Excel. Recognised by NetSuite as ‘SuiteApp of the Year’ in 2018, Solution 7 is one of the most, and highest, rated apps on SuiteApp.com, with an average rating of 4.8/5 from almost 100 reviews.