Software evaluation

Datarails reviews (updated for 2024): features, pricing, competitors

Updated: February 27, 2024 |

Jim Bullis

Head of Pre-Sales & Solutions, Cube Software

Jim Bullis
Jim Bullis

Jim Bullis has over 13 years of experience implementing CPM/EPM tools and other finance software, as well as consulting and supporting a wide range of clients from Fortune 500 organizations, to privately held corporations generating over $100M in revenue, to public sector entities.

Head of Pre-Sales & Solutions, Cube Software

Datarails reviews (updated for 2024): features, pricing, competitors

If you're on this page, then you've heard about Datarails.

They're an Excel-based FP&A solution that automates financial planning, reporting, analysis, and data gathering.

Whether you've seen their advertising and you're curious about their product...

...or you heard something worrisome about them via word-of-mouth...

We're here to share the Datarails pros and cons to help you decide.

Keep reading. 

Contents

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What does Datarails do? 

Datarails promises to "transform your Excel into a lean, mean FP&A machine." Their biggest selling point is that they help you automate repetitive processes in Excel.

As spreadsheet fans ourselves, we have to give Datarails credit for this. After all, 90% of FP&A teams supplement financial planning platforms with spreadsheets.

90% of FP&A teams supplement financial planning systems with spreadsheets (1)

…So you might as well make the spreadsheet your financial planning platform.

On their website, Datarails lists key use cases like:

They also promise to help you "spend more time analyzing data and less time collecting it."

And that sounds great.

But how do they deliver on their promise? Let's take a look at some reviews. 

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Our Datarails review 

DataRails does several things well. They pull your data into a single place. They make it easy for you to visualize your data in a dashboard. They're hard at work on building better predictive analytics functions.

Several FP&A pros indicated that Datarails:

  • Helps them avoid mistakes
  • Speeds up their close process
  • Keeps them in Excel instead of on a "replace spreadsheets" system that only two people know how to use

But like any tool, Datarails has limitations. Reviewers in 2023 mentioned that:

Who is Datarails for?

A TechCrunch article detailing its Series B raise says, "Datarails will continue to focus squarely on SMBs."

So if you're a larger company (or trying to grow or scale into a larger company), Datarails may not be the right solution for you.

That's not just positioning. Growing companies will find there are operational challenges to using Datarails, too.

Here's a quick example: 

You're more likely to have more internal stakeholders who prefer to use Google Sheets—they might not even have Excel on their machines.

So buying a solution with Excel tunnel vision could create anti-synergy between the office of the CFO and the rest of the company.

…Not ideal, especially when quick conversations between Finance and other departments, like during budget reviews, need to happen.

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Datarails pros and cons

Here's what Datarails does well:

  • Out-of-the-box templates
  • Keeps your FP&A team in Excel
  • In-house customer support
  • Pleasing UI and dashboards

That said, Datarails has plenty of areas to improve.

Datarails was built on VBA, which is falling out of favor in today's highly collaborative, remote world

That Datarails is built on legacy tech explains many of the frustrations people have with it:

  • Mac and Google Sheets integrations aren't truly native
  • Requires custom formulas and syntax for many routine operations
  • Slows down your machine; it's resource-intense
  • Longer, more complex implementation that's consequently more prone to error

There are all symptoms of an outdated base tech stack. 

Modern tools like Cube create native connections with Excel and Google Sheets using a JavaScript API. This means:

  • Native Mac and Google Sheets integrations
  • No custom formulas needed
  • Lighting quick
  • Quick implementation speeds without rearranging your models and backend

Datarails's licensing setup creates collaboration and procedural problems

Datarails uses licenses to keep your sensitive financial data on lockdown. So you can't see a report without a Datarails license.

Makes sense, right? After all, that's your company's financial data. It should be secure.

…But if that were the case, why not just use something like the Google Drive permissions model? Why require extra seats?

For companies trying to stick to responsible software spending, it's hard to justify extra seats just for viewing reports.

Here's an example:

As a CFO, you want to send your VP of People a hiring budget. You create it in Datarails and share it. You had to buy an additional Datarails license and connection for this use case.

The workaround?

Use the Datarails-provided templates, formulas, and formatting. Share your budgets and reports within the web portal.

And while that sounds great, it creates procedural problems. 

If the person without a license makes an edit, it breaks the model. And then you can't see their changes.

What would this look like if it were easy? (And cheaper?) 

Use a modern solution like Cube to fetch your Excel reports into Google Sheets, which has built-in permissions and version control, with a single click.

(And your VP of People uses it.)

You must learn Datarails-specific formulas, which creates a learning curve and reliance on customer support

Because Datarails was built on a legacy tech stack, its formulas are complex and easy to break. They rely on hidden columns and brittle cell references.

So being a Datarails power user requires learning those proprietary formulas.

…or eschewing them altogether and using Excel workarounds, which defeats the point of buying FP&A software.

Here's an example of what these formulas look like:

Datatails-proprietary-formula (1)

The formula in this screenshot from a Datarails video, @DR.YTD, takes 9 optional arguments.

As you know, there are plenty of easier ways to calculate YTD

Likewise, the Datarails proprietary formulas are just that: proprietary. You can't tweak them. 

Imagine this:

All of your reporting is built on brittle formulas like this. But you want to change some of your reporting templates.

Now, instead of self-serving, you have to embark on a project with a Datarails CSM.

So all the time you think you've saved with this new tool gets eaten up in learning how to use it.

Datarails Pricing

We couldn't find pricing on Datarails's website, although reviews have said they're more expensive than comparable SMB options.

What should you look for when picking FP&A software?

FP&A software should make your life easier.

It should save you time, automate repetitive tasks, and eliminate the no-value-add work that burdens many finance teams.

But how do you evaluate FP&A software?

Let's go over some quick highlights.

(Here's a more comprehensive checklist for picking FP&A software.)

1. FP&A software should empower you to customize your reporting and workflows to your unique business needs

The world is your oyster. Build and maintain reports without the need for consultants.

Unlike a tool that spotlights rigid reports with proprietary formulas and complex underlying logic, great FP&A software empowers and augments your existing and preferred workflows.

You should be able to spin up your own reports or dashboards and share them with whomever you need.

…without waiting for consultants or troubleshooting formulas.

That's one of the best things about Cube, you know.

Because Cube works with the tools you already know how to use, it makes much of the grueling work simple.

For example, Cube customer Stephanie, the CFO of SmugMug, had to wrangle the budgeting process for a complex business model. SmugMug had recently acquired Flickr and had a couple of offerings.

The FP&A team at SmugMug had even gone as far as to restructure their chart of accounts to simplify their budgeting process. Then they got Cube.

2. FP&A software should be compatible with your and your colleagues' favored work environments

As our co-founder 3x CFO-turned-CEO Christina Ross says, having a Plan A and a Plan B is no longer enough.

While the FP&A team works in Excel, many other departments work in Google Sheets or Excel in Microsoft Teams.

Cube works with all these environments. Plus, we're compatible with PCs and Macs.

Since Cube works wherever you work—and because Cube sits natively in the spreadsheet—sharing scenarios, budgets, and reports is easy.

3. FP&A software should have a minimal learning curve

When you buy new software, there's always a learning curve.

The best software hides the complexity from you.

Cube customer Kristina, the VP of Finance and Strategy at 1Rockwell, says the biggest thing Cube gave her was peace of mind. She used Cube to simplify all the complex work she was doing.

In fact, Kristina says that what used to take her hours now only takes 5 minutes.

No need to learn code or complex new systems to do your work.

4. FP&A software should have a quick time-to-value and not stall in implementation limbo due to surprise costs or consultant schedules

We like telling new customers to plan a vacation, not an implementation.

While that's partly because Cube has a record of finishing implementations 5x faster than comparable tools…

…it's also because, with Cube, you don't need to pay for extra consulting hours to learn how to use the tool. We've designed and tested it to be intuitive and to grow with your needs.

Because Cube doesn't rip and replace your backend like most legacy tools on the market, setup time is quick. 

This means you have more time to get back to the important work.

Datarails competitors & alternatives 

While Datarails can be a good option for Excel-based SMBs who don't plan to scale, you should know about the other players in the FP&A industry.

And yes, we’ve started with Cube. We’re proud of how well it helps FP&A teams of all sizes plan, analyze, and collaborate to scale their companies smartly, sustainably, and speedily.

1. Cube

blue-cube-logo

Cube is the first spreadsheet-native FP&A platform that empowers finance teams to plan faster, more nimbly, and more scalably without changing how they work. 

Our cloud-based FP&A software helps finance teams work more effectively by collecting and centralizing data into a single source of truth. 

This empowers teams to create plans and reports based on that trusted data in the spreadsheets they know and love.

Cube transforms FP&A with a spreadsheet-native platform that offers fast, flexible, and scalable financial analysis for continuous collaboration and insights.

Many high-growth companies (like Masterworks and Unqork) use Cube for all their FP&A needs.

Because here's the thing:

Cube can do almost everything Datarails does and then some.

cube-detarails-mobile

For example, Cube: 

  • Has a true, native Excel integration with all versions of Excel (no coding or formulas needed)
  • Is always reliable during sophisticated Excel calculations
  • Onboards new accounts 5x faster than the competition
  • Uses simple formulas for creating reports
  • Integrates with almost all source systems
  • Works perfectly on Mac OS X and Google Sheets

Perhaps even more importantly, Cube was founded by a former CFO. The problems and use cases of FP&A have been baked into Cube since its inception.

FP&A teams already know and love spreadsheets. Cube simplifies many of the headaches of the often challenging planning process—like collecting actuals from other departments or checking and verifying that your numbers are correct—and lets teams turn their complicated budgeting process into a lean operation.

Check out all of the 5-star reviews on Capterra.

Sounds like a fit? Book your demo with Cube today. Keep scrolling to learn more.

Big image_Howcubeworks_V2 (4) (1) (1)

Features:

  • Automated data consolidation: Connect data from numerous sources for automated rollups and drilldowns.
  • Multi-scenario analysis: Allows you to seamlessly model how changes to key assumptions affect overall outputs.
  • Endless integrationsIntegrations for spreadsheets (Google and Excel), accounting & finance, HR, ATS, billing & operations, sales & marketing, and business intelligence. 
  • Customizable dashboards: Gives you the full ability to build and share customizable dashboards.
  • Native Excel and Google Sheets integration: Compatible and bi-directional with any spreadsheet
  • Multi-currency support: Evaluate your financials in both your local and reporting currencies.
  • User-based controls: User controls, validations, and an audit trail ensure that the correct data goes to the right people at the right time.
  • Centralized formulas and KPIs: Store all your calculations in a central location and manage from a single source of truth.
  • Drilldown and audit trail: Get straight to the transactions and history behind a single data cell in just one click.

➡️ See all of our features here.

Pros: 

  • Powerful reporting and KPIs help automate and analyze important data.
  • Streamline manual data, reduce errors, and improve collaboration so you can make smarter business decisions in a fraction of the time.
  • You can easily collaborate with industry-leading FP&A experts and an award-winning support team.
  • Integrations with dozens of applications.
  • Proper, native Excel integration with all versions of Excel (no coding or formulas needed)
  • Always reliable during sophisticated Excel calculations
  • Standard implementation time that's 5x shorter than the competition
  • Quick fresh and fetch times
  • Intuitive, easy, and customizable reporting
  • Simple formulas for making reports
  • User-friendly user interface and controls
  • Easy permission management
  • Integrates with more source systems
  • Has full Mac OS X compatibility
  • Is an always-correct single source of truth
  • Built and designed by a former serial CFO

Cons:

  • Cube works best for mid-sized and commercial businesses–it’s not a personal finance app.
  • Cube is built for finance professionals and is not a solution for learning FP&A for the first time.
  • Pricing (below) is not designed for pre-series A startups.

Pricing:

  • Starting at $1,250/month for lean finance teams and $2,450/month for companies looking to scale. See detailed pricing.

Best for: Mid-size and enterprise FP&A teams looking to save time and grow. Cube also works for hyper-growth SMBs who want a solution that will scale with their organization's complexity.

Curious to see if Cube is a fit for your organization? Book your demo now.

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2. Vena 

vena-desktop

Vena is a financial planning and analysis solution that allows companies to create a centralized solution with reliable automated workflows for data analysis and decision-making.

Vena supports companies’ financial systems by lessening the workload for manual labor and optimizing overall operational performance. With specific tasks assigned to each team member, automated processes help reduce bottlenecks and increase efficiency.

With the shift towards automation becoming more and more of a necessity for enterprises and organizations, Vena transitions your outdated company spreadsheets into detailed analyses that provide you with more data for strategic planning. With features like visual control, graphical data modeling, project budgeting/forecasting, and more, Vena helps you adapt to modern finances. 

Key Features: 

  • What if modeling, statistical analysis
  • Graphical data presentation, modeling, simulation
  • Performance metrics, sales trend analysis
  • Capital asset planning and cash management
  • Consolidation/roll-up
  • Run rate tracking
  • Version control

Pros:

  • Data-driven strategic planning
  • Visual data storytelling
  • Future mobile support
  • Training support

Cons:

  • Reported glitches during set-up and installation
  • Relatively high learning curve
  • Error messages are not specific enough for new users
  • Lacks some key features 
  • Can be expensive for smaller or mid-sized companies

Pricing: 

  • Vena does not provide pricing details on their website.

3. Mosaic Tech 

mosaic-desktop

Founded in 2019, Mosaic is a strategic finance platform that creates real-time reporting, budgeting, and planning for better business decision-making. Mosaic allows companies to work in unison in pursuit of organizational goals.

Mosaic consolidates and transforms insights into accessible visuals for stakeholders and management. Like other finance software, Mosaic automates different financial operations to streamline the workflow. 

Mosaic's biggest strength is its ability to provide pretty visuals that SaaS companies often want. 

Key Features: 

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Intuitive UI

Cons:

  • Slow rollout of new features
  • No customization of graphs and charts
  • Not made for non-SaaS companies
  • Lacks integration features
  • Difficult to scale with the complexity of your organization

Pricing: 

  • Mosaic Tech does not provide pricing details on its website.

More Datarails reviews 

For more information on Datarails, check out these other Datarails reviews:

Conclusion: Is Datarails good? 

While Datarails is generally a decent option for your FP&A needs—it'll get the job done—the tool's combinations of shortcomings and complexity make it a tough sell to most FP&A teams. 

Ultimately, Datarails works best for this kind of user:

  • SMB
  • Excel-only shop
  • Small (or solo) FP&A team
  • ERP and other source systems natively integrate with Datarails

And even then, you're opening a can of worms. Because Datarails has high customer churn.

However, if you’re in the FP&A market and you’re looking for something that:

  1. Scales easily,
  2. Integrates with everything,
  3. Is super simple to implement,
  4. Is powerful enough to simplify your workflows but simple enough for anybody to learn,
  5. Works for companies of all sizes, and
  6. Has excellent NPS and low customer churn

then Cube might be a good fit for you. Request a demo. and let's talk

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Sources cited: