Excel and ClearPoint Strategy

When Excel is used with ClearPoint, these tools create an easier reporting process.
Excel and ClearPoint Strategy
When Excel is used with ClearPoint, these tools create an easier reporting process.

Microsoft Excel is used by millions of people and organizations to collect, sort, calculate, and share data, including financial information, performance metrics, project plan progress and more. Excel is a tremendous tool for data collection and serves as a staple software for almost all managers. Yet it’s cumbersome to update and maintain over long periods of time.

With Excel, you have multiple copies of data, making version control an ongoing struggle. And while Excel can handle qualitative data in theory, it isn’t designed to support data-driven decision-making over time. For that, many people copy and paste their data from Excel into Word or PowerPoint to make presentations and reports.  Often this process uncovers mistakes in the original Excel file, necessitating going back through all your presentations to update them with the right data.

With all this back and forth, mistakes are inevitable (and sometimes costly, as shown in the “Excel Hell” diagram below). On top of that, the entire process wastes a ton of your time.

This is where ClearPoint Strategy comes in: To make management reporting simple and efficient so you can focus on making better decisions.

Storing Your Data in Excel?

As the traditional spreadsheet tool, Excel is great at adding, collecting, and storing every detail of your data. But figuring out which workbooks and worksheets are up to date, if the data are accurate, and where the right version of the file lives is a major nightmare. It leads to inefficient and ineffective use of management time, incorrect or outdated reports, and reduced bandwidth for data-driven decision-making.

With ClearPoint, your Excel sheets become data sources that automatically update your reports and presentations with the help of our Data Loader. With data updates happening automatically, data owners and managers gain back precious time, which can then be dedicated to strategy execution. If Excel isn’t your only data source, our customizable API is open and available to pull all your data into ClearPoint automatically from other compatible sources such as your CRM, accounting software, and more.

So why not have the best of both worlds? With ClearPoint taking on the heavy lifting of data integration, you can track and analyze your data plus generate and distribute the reports you need with ease.

Trying to Visualize Your Data?

Excel can create charts and graphs, but creating and customizing these visualizations is never easy, and sharing the charts you’ve created is even harder.  How can you take back the power of data visualization to develop helpful insights and drive discussions on how to improve your business?

ClearPoint features customizable, dynamic, and automatically updated data visualizations. You define how you want it to look, and it will create the exact chart you seek with a few clicks—it’s that simple. From colors that match your brand, to dual axes and detailed legends, the customization options are endless. Choose simple charts of any type or multi-layer disaggregated views. Whatever your preferences for data visualizations, ClearPoint helps you create what you need to manage your team and operations better.

Once you’ve created the chart you need, it’ll be available however long you’d like to use it. You can easily add the chart to multiple reports for different audiences and distribute them online or in lightweight PDF reports. When you update your source data, your chart updates automatically in any reports it’s used. No more need to worry about macros and embedding Excel within PowerPoint or Word.

Now I have My Data, How Do I Use It?

It’s one thing to have data you can rely on, but it means nothing unless you use it to improve your decision-making.  Excel offers you a way to collect and store your data, but it falls short on helping you make good decisions on a consistent basis.

Sure, you can type text into cells, but what happens if you want to update that narrative while maintaining your historical information? How do you know if things are on track, or if your staff is doing what they committed to?  Most people revert to awkward workarounds like saving the file as “Profit Report 2020-01-10.”  Put simply, Excel was built for analysts, not managers.

What’s needed is a tool to help you tell a story with your data. With ClearPoint, you can add qualitative data like analysis and recommendations into a text field that displays with your measures. You can create custom text fields to support your preferred data process and require the fields be filled in by your staff and colleagues to create a complete report. Then you can review both the quantitative and qualitative data in one place to support decision-making and encourage your staff to take the initiative to deliver excellence.

What about checking in on your performance over time? ClearPoint enables you to refer to previous time periods to understand what you were thinking and deciding at the time, what the results were, and what improvements you may need to make. You can stay up to date without losing discoveries or insight from the past. Forget sorting through old copies of spreadsheets; move into the future of centralized reporting.

As for checking in on progress and ensuring your team is on track, ClearPoint allows you to showcase how the data you’re tracking align to the high-level objectives or goals of the business. This helps you communicate to your staff why their work is valuable and what they are working to achieve.  You can also link initiatives and projects to those objectives and measures so your staff will know exactly what needs to be accomplished to improve (and you can track their progress in making it happen)!

Can I Still Use Excel?

Let’s say you have awesome reports in ClearPoint, and you want to see what would happen if your expenses increased by 5% or if your renewal rates decreased by 3%.  Excel is great for that.  That’s why at ClearPoint, we’ve designed Excel exports that “sync” with ClearPoint.  You can export your strategic information to Excel, change some targets, load this data back into ClearPoint, and see the effect of the changes.  All your calculations and evaluations will run in ClearPoint, and the new results will sync back down to Excel.  ClearPoint Sync also enables quick and remote data collection, with all your data ending up in your central hub, ClearPoint.

So keep on using Excel; it’s a powerful tool! But when used together with ClearPoint, these two powerful tools create some incredible synergy.

Looking to Share Your Data?

When working with Excel as your main data source and reporting tool, the production of up-to-date reports can be difficult. Not only do you have to endure the workload previously described to combine your quantitative and qualitative data, ensure it is accurate and up to date, and generate your visualizations, but then you have to compile it into a meaningful and understandable report for a variety of audiences.

The process is not simple in Excel. From shuffling through worksheet after worksheet to copying and pasting graphs and combining the pieces together just the right way, it’s a daunting and tedious task. (And you do it routinely!) Sure, you could compile everything in PowerPoint, but the printouts never seem quite right, and someone always asks about data that you didn’t include in the report. So how can you make your reporting process easier so you can focus on managing?

We can help. ClearPoint offers a variety of features to support your reporting process. From developing custom reports with the information you need for each particular audience, to making sure these reports can be generated consistently and automatically, ClearPoint has you covered.

With ClearPoint, you can also rest easy about permissions and user access. You can establish view-only users to keep your reports password protected for only approved staff and only grant access to certain sections of your account. You can also track changes that are made within the tool and undo them as needed. Finally, you can generate beautiful PDF exports to send to others to explore or create online dashboards to share with a wider group.

ClearPoint Strategy does it all automatically so your report is ready when you need it. Plus, with a dynamic design, ClearPoint can be viewed on a variety of screen sizes, from large projectors to mobile devices. You can log in from anywhere and get right back to work.

What Next?

Use Excel and ClearPoint together to take your data to the next level. As a central hub for your data, decision making, and reporting, ClearPoint serves as a tremendous facilitator and partner for all your data reporting needs and frees more time in your day to focus on what matters.

ClearPoint Strategy: We make management reporting simple and efficient so you can focus on making better decisions. Are you ready to take your data to the next level? Schedule some time with our team today.

Excel Hell [infographic]
Excel and ClearPoint Strategy

Sean Callison

Vice President of Sales & BBQ Master

Sean is the Vice President of Sales at ClearPoint. He leads the Sales department and focuses on developing impactful, consultative sales teams.