Murex and Excel have always had this love-hate relationship and I found interesting how it involved over time:
On one hand, you have Murex, secure application: access to DB is controlled, access to the data is controlled, audited. The system is quite flexible but nowhere near Excel.
On the other hand, Excel is agile, flexible to the extreme and highly configurable : librairies, ODBC connections, Reuters plugin, etc. No wonder it is the bank’s preferred tool.
The bank problem with Excel is about critical processes: overengineered if too many users contribute to it, not properly maintained if the right person left or is on vacation. You sometimes end up with unstable spreadsheets or incorrect calculations: Excel is too flexible, impossible to control and the bank could be running major risk falling outside its control.
But the users are not easily willing to give up on Excel flexibility and ease of use (everyone knows how to use Excel, even my mom!)
So it’s no wonder that Murex has been trying to offer more flexibility, more functionalities to bridge that gap. Let’s have a look at what exists/existed:
– Excel link. At the start of Murex java version (Mxg2000), there was a functionality to link the current Murex screen to excel. One could link cells from Murex into Excel. The problem is that the screen needed to be opened in Murex (the linkage was done at client level) at the same time than Excel. And there were also couple of bugs. In the end, I don’t think it was ever really used and it died away
– Reporting API. One could trigger dynamic tables and get the results in Excel. It was like automating the report run and retrieval of data.
– Simulation API. More interesting, this one is actually quite old and you could access some simulation functions and results into Excel. Not so well known, it was actually quite useful till…
The viewer came in. I think this was the most interesting move in the Murex saga to bridge the gap. The viewer took a lot of work and investment to be what it is today (and it is still changing). And while it is like a pivot table with all Murex data, users are sometimes frustrated that the tool is not as flexible as Excel. It feels like Excel, smells like Excel, but it is not and users might forget this.
The one that everyone wonders about it is a GUI based on Excel. I won’t comment too much on that one as to what will or will not be released. Murex has to always be wary that it is a secure platform (sorry to repeat myself, over and over!) and giving flexibility should never come as limitation to security.
Today I’m a strong believer that most processes should be integrated into Murex, away from Excel. If a process is critical for the bank to run, it needs to be owned and acknowledged by the bank. And if you believe that Murex might not be able to replace Excel on a particular process, I would still suggest discussing it with them : Murex people love challenges!
And you dear reader? What do you think of Excel in the bank?