Google Sheets vs MS Excel Round 1

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You Ask Me to Teach You MS Excel and I Say You’re Asking for the Wrong Tool


Don’t get me wrong. We’re going to be doing courses in MS Excel. I understand the need. I also don’t think nearly enough people, especially accountants, bookkeepers, and business owners are paying the attention that you should be paying to Google Sheets. So I give you.. Google Sheets vs. Excel – Round 1

Did you know Google Sheets does everything that MS Excel does all the way down to Pivot Tables and Macros? The formula writing is identical. Same Vlookup, sumif, and many more formulas that you want to learn in MS Excel.

You need to learn Google Sheets. It does all of the things you want to do in MS Excel with the added benefits of seamless sharing and collaborating and all of the other benefits of working in the cloud. I can even set a Google Sheet to notify me when a change has been made by anyone and I can be real specific about where a change has been made when I want to be notified down to a specific cell. Now we have some things that Google Sheets can do which MS Excel cannot.

I have a client whom I work with who has a catering business in New England. He has detailed forms he uses to track information about the events they book – the # of people, seating arrangements, and many other details. He needs to share this information with his staff who are in other locations. The sales people need access when they book the events so they can fill in the basic information about the party. The Event coordinator needs that information to see how they need to staff the event and set up the budget. It goes on and on, but you get the point. It would be a mess if they were using Excel files. With Google sheets he can give specific access to people, only to what they need. That information flows seamlessly to the areas where it is needed where others have specific access only to what THEY need.

As a bookkeeper you need this for your clients. You can create forms and reports that are easily shared with your clients so the information flows much more seamlessly. Take for example your uncategorized expenses. Assuming your are working with a desktop version of QuickBooks you can export your uncategorized expenses to Excel, but the try uploading and converting it to Google Sheets. If you didn’t already do it in Excel add a column for the client to enter explanations. Then share it with them and set it to e-mail you when any changes have been made. No more e-mailing files back and forth. The only e-mail you will get will be the one you can delete that tells you your client has made changes to it.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. In our Bootstrapping Your Bookkeeping Course on Google Sheets I show you how you can track a simple business using nothing more than Google Sheets. I show you how to use Pivot tables to create the reports you need and then I show you how you can share and collaborate in real time so that your accountant or anyone else who needs to can get in there and comment or make changes.

Anything you learn to do in Google Sheets you can also do in MS Excel and Google Sheets offers a much more powerful collaborative environment that Microsoft Sharepoint and office 365 have failed to match. They’ve failed miserably, so much so in my opinion that you cannot afford to ignore the power of Google Sheets.

On Superbowl Sunday, 2/2/14 I created this sheet in Google Sheets:

Super Bowl Sunday 02/02/14

As you can see we were tracking the commercials to get an idea of what advertisers were spending. Note the tabs at the bottom. The second one called “Pivot Table 1” shows you how I was able to summarize the info to account for advertisers who had more than 1 commercial. In order to keep up with the data entry (we had to be fast as the commercials were playing and we had to time them to see if they were 30, 60, or 90 seconds) I asked my friend Ryan Balfe (Say Hi) to help me. Ryan is in New Jersey these days, so the only way he was able to help me was that I had set this up in Google Sheets and shared it with him. He and I were in there at the exact same time updating the spreadsheet and I was posting it on social media inviting people to come and watch as we updated it for the commercials we saw. This would not have been possible to do with MS Excel.

I want you to think about what I’ve written here and I want you to think about ways that you can use Google sheets with your clients and colleagues. It’s an extremely powerful tool. In fact when Eric and I first started working together on we built the entire financial model for this business in Google Sheets so we could both be in there editing at the same time in real time while we were on the phone. No I’m not sharing that one with you 🙂 Again that is a business use case that we would not be able to duplicate using MS Excel.

Post your comments and questions below and tell me how you might start using Google Sheets, and if you haven’t already start getting caught up on our Bootstrapping Your Bookkeeping A Course In Google Sheets course. You will develop a tremendous set of skills that will increase your efficiency if not your billable rate!!

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