Melbourne, Australia - Australian software company BPM has developed software which dramatically reduces the time and risks involved in building and maintaining spreadsheets using Microsoft Excel. The software, called bpmModules, can be used to build a business planning model in minutes and save companies millions of dollars in time spent undertaking repetitive tasks.
"Microsoft Excel is such an incredibly powerful tool for important decision making, yet many companies have come to accept that using spreadsheets is a time-consuming task involving many repetitive tasks. However, with bpmModules this is no longer the case", said Michael Hutchens, the managing director of BPM.
The idea for bpmModules came to Hutchens when catching up with a friend who was building his own website. "He told me he'd built his entire website in a few days and I was amazed", said Hutchens, "It turns out he was using a content management system that did a lot of the legwork for him. It got me thinking about whether a similar approach could be developed for creating and managing spreadsheets".
Not many people paid attention when BPM released the first set of spreadsheet modelling standards in 2003. BPM co-founder Michael Hutchens recalls clients responding to the standards the way a lot of people respond to being told that they should learn how to touch type, "they knew it was the right thing to do but they were too busy to learn".
What wasn't obvious at that time was that the spreadsheet modelling standards would pave the way for software that would dramatically change the way content is created, managed and shared within spreadsheets.
In October 2013 BPM released bpmModules; the world's first spreadsheet content management and sharing system. Mr Hutchens describes bpmModules as "a system which allows pieces of spreadsheets to be created, shared, linked and unlinked like Lego pieces, thereby allowing complex spreadsheets to be built in minutes".
"The standards are like the missing link that HTML provided for the internet. The common language made it possible to share and re-use small parts of spreadsheets, meaning that it was no longer necessary to build every spreadsheet from scratch. And for many spreadsheet users this results in huge time savings."
BPM refers to this concept as Modular Spreadsheet Development and, when implemented using bpmModules, Mr Hutchens says that "we can now built entire customised business planning models for our clients in minutes. Sometimes we can even build a model better than their existing business planning model during a presentation demonstrating the system. They are blown away by what's now possible."
Mr Hutchens notes that "over the past decade the vast majority of the changes to Microsoft Excel have been aesthetic, even though it's the world's most popular spreadsheet application. We found that our clients wanted ways to improve the quality of their spreadsheets while reducing built time and the risks of errors."
"bpmModules fundamentally changes the way Microsoft Excel is used because it prevents the need to ever do anything twice. This saves a huge amount of time and also reduces the risk of errors that arise when continually re-inventing the wheel."
BPM calls the pieces of a spreadsheet modules, and once a module has been built once it can be used again indefinitely. "Revenue projections are a great example of a module. Once you've built one revenue module that forecasts revenue based on growth rates, it can thereafter be inserted into any spreadsheet that is required to forecast revenue based on growth rates. Otherwise a different revenue module can be built, which can in turn be re-used thereafter. Pretty soon bpmModules users have a whole range of modules that they can mix and match based on the requirements of each spreadsheet they build."
One of the challenges for BPM is communicating the power of this new approach to existing experienced spreadsheet users. "Henry Ford once said that if he had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses, and we're facing the same challenge".
But Mr Hutchens is not concerned. "Every day we're showing people what's now possible, and there's a moment in each presentation when their eyes light up and you can see their mind racing as they realise what this means in terms of advancing their spreadsheet use. It's just very rewarding to be part of something so amazing, even if it will take some time for people to catch on".
See bpmModules in action at www.bestpracticemodelling.com/tv/bpmModules.
Best Practice Modelling
BPM helps Microsoft Excel users improve the quality of their spreadsheets while reducing the time and risks associated with building and maintaining them.
BPM works with small and large companies, governments, accountants, investment banks and other regular Microsoft Excel users, often to streamline their business planning, reporting and decision-making processes. In many cases, BPM's software allows high quality spreadsheet models to be built in minutes rather than weeks.
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