What do you call an accountant without a spreadsheet? Lost.

What do you call an accountant without a spreadsheet? Lost.

What do you call an accountant without a spreadsheet? Lost.

The punchline to this joke demonstrates why accountants have been so slow to adopt new and more  efficient technology. Accountants seem incapable of functioning without a spreadsheet. Even when the industry acknowledges that over 90% of spreadsheets contain errors. This attachment to spreadsheets is a joke.

Inflated Costs of Spreadsheets

What’s not a joke is the inefficiency and inflated costs you suffer through because your R&D credit accountant can’t give up their spreadsheet. Consider the simple matter of ingesting data from your system.

Request data in a...spreadsheet.

First, the accountant will request the data. But that request is that you provide the data in a spreadsheet,  with only particular data fields, and in a particular format. In fact, they may have actually sent you a template and asked you to copy and paste your data into the template, so they have less work to do. If you complain about any of this, they threaten you with “out of scope” fees.


Next, they take the data you sent and start “manipulating” the data in their spreadsheet. This is simply more cutting and pasting, formatting the columns, creating pivot tables, etc. None of this time actually advances the analysis, but it sure drives up your costs.

Email your sensitive data

Next, they start the review process. This means they email your sensitive data all around the office. The junior staff sends it to the senior staff, the senior staff must show their value by sending it back to the junior staff and asking them to change a formula, or sort, or view. This process continues from the senior staff to the manager, the manager to the senior manager, and from the senior manager to the partner. This review process doesn’t improve the analysis, in fact, it introduces errors and mistakes while subjecting your data to risk of data breach.

Be careful, your data may be missing

Finally, the analysis in complete and sent to you. You would be wise to compare the data you sent to the final analysis. This is where you start to discover that data has gone missing, that the data was misunderstood, or that the final analysis is full of errors caused by the accountant playing with the spreadsheet.

The first spreadsheet program, VisiCalc, was released in 1979. Consider how much technology has advanced in the 40+ years since VisiCalc. Don’t you think it’s about time your accountant advance as well?

Have a question? Contact a SPRX tax expert.