Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:36 pm
Companies of any size can have problems with their spreadsheets. In the fast-paced and mobile environment that today’s professionals have learned to live in, spreadsheets have not yet caught up. Without spreadsheets, businesspeople tend to work from memory and may pass on incorrect information to a client or potential client, in the face of competition and maybe even when speaking with the media.
Without an updated spreadsheet, an employee can undersell the company or exaggerate its earnings.
Furthermore, companies that allow all of their employees access to a database risk a security breach, or the database could crash due to overuse.
For about two years, Brookfield-based Centare Group Ltd. has been a reseller of e.Spreadsheet Engine, an application that automatically collects information for spreadsheets from multiple databases within a company, said Jim Maslowski, vice president of business development for the company.
Last week, Centare Group officially launched Spreadsheet Accelerator, an application that, when paired with e.Spreadsheet Engine, can publish spreadsheets in real time on an internal or external Web site, Maslowski said.
e.Spreadsheet Engine was developed by Reporting Engines, a division of San Francisco-based Actuate Corp.
"(Centare Group) saw the need for Web publishing in the reporting industry," Maslowski said.
Centare Group hopes to accommodate medium to large businesses, or businesses with between $5 million and $100 million in revenue, with the e.Spreadsheet Engine and Spreadsheet Accelerator package.
"Small and medium-sized business owners want the ability to use business intelligence operations, but not on the scale or at the cost of a full-blown solution," Maslowski said.
Spreadsheet Accelerator was developed by Centare Group as a result of common issues with its clients’ purchasing reporting applications, Maslowski said. Spreadsheets created manually were a difficult task for some with a high probability of error.
Medium-sized companies may have multiple databases. When employees manually create a spreadsheet, they may be pulling different bits of information from each database. This can cause confusion and error, as well as support issues, depending on how many employees are searching the company databases at a time.
After all of that work, the spreadsheets tend to be outdated by the end of the week.
With e.Spreadsheet Engine and Spreadsheet Accelerator installed, clients of Centare Group can set up a template for a spreadsheet in e.Spreadsheet Engine. Clients are looking to create a spreadsheet that looks exactly like a Microsoft Excel file, Maslowski said.
The template includes the data the client wants to include in the report and sets parameters as to when the spreadsheet will be published onto the internal or external Web site, when it will expire and how often it will update itself.
Once the template and parameters are specified, the program runs on its own. e.Spreadsheet Engine pulls current information from multiple databases according to the template. The data can be compiled from sources including purchasing orders, invoices, accounts receivable, accounting books and various servers. The data is updated according to the intervals specified in the parameters.
Once the data is compiled, it is automatically published onto the specified internal or external Web site through Spreadsheet Accelerator. Once published, employees can retrieve the information anywhere in the world and download it as an Excel file, an HTML or as an Applet, Maslowski said.
Users also have the ability online to set their own parameters for sorting the data, Maslowski said. Spreadsheets that are published one way can be organized alphabetically instead of numerically, and so on.
Business owners want to control which spreadsheets are circulating and who has received the most up-to-date information, Maslowski said.
"Companies need centralized control with one person with administrative rights to hit all of the databases," Maslowski said. "(Business owners) want to know that the information going out into the world about their company is authorized, when it was published and what it looks like."
Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont Corp. recently signed on as the first client of the Spreadsheet Accelerator package, Maslowski said. DuPont needs human resources information on the number of sick days and vacation days to create a report, Maslowski said.
The e.Spreadsheet Engine and Spreadsheet Accelerator are compatible with any database, Maslowski said.
The costs of the new programs range from $5,400 to $10,000, depending upon the options.
"Creation and distribution of reports have been an issue for some time and have only been available to a few large companies because of cost concerns," Maslowski said. "We are giving people a small slice of a system that typically sells for more than $100,000 and just giving them what they need: automated spreadsheet creation and distribution."