Microsoft’s Excel, or other spreadsheet technology, can be leveraged to be more than just basic financial calculations software. Once you become accustomed to the application and familiar with the more powerful functions available, you’ll find many uses for this business tool. Since it is the industry standard, we will refer to Microsoft’s Excel throughout this piece. Excel was released in 1985 and has grown to become arguably the most important computer program in workplaces around the world. Whether you are budgeting, organizing client sales lists, or need to plan an office social gathering, Excel is a powerful tool that has become entrenched in business processes worldwide.
Let’s categorize some of the areas of Excel that are very popular that you may not be using or be aware of.
Basic Accounting: In its most basic sense, small businesses use Excel as a simple accounting program or checkbook ledger. You can enter deposits and expenditures onto each row of the sheet as you would enter them into a check register. One of the benefits of using Excel in this fashion is that you can create charts and graphs over time to compare business income and expenditures.
Advanced Finance: This is the area of business with the greatest reliance and benefit from Excel spreadsheets. In addition to the rudimentary mathematical functions, Excel offers a host of advanced features to perform tasks such as financial forecasting through cost of capital and regression analysis. When coupled with IF functions like VLOOKUP, INDEX-MATCH-MATCH, and pivot tables, Excel provides accounting and finance department tools to meet their sophisticated needs.
Scheduling: Businesses create basic employee and resource schedules with Excel that can be color-coded and designed to automatically update as the schedules change. A conference room resource sheet could be used to make sure everyone is on the same page as to when meetings are held. This sheet can be viewed and updated by all those who need access to it.
Product Sales: This is an excellent feature that when a significant amount of data is captured, Excel will allow you to forecast sales into the future using, among other things, regression analysis. Then you will be able to compare actual to forecasted financial data.
Human Resource Planning: While there are other systems like Oracle, QuickBooks, etc. to calculate payroll, Excel can be used by downloading this data into spreadsheets for very detailed analytics. HR professionals can discover trends, summarize expenses and hours by pay period, month, or year, and better understand how the workforce is spread out by function or pay level.
Customer Databases: While the heavy lifting can be done by Microsoft’s Access, it can be somewhat intimidating to those not familiar with creating databases. The Advanced Excel Business Center explains that databases do not have to be planned out in full when you use Excel to gather and track data. This makes Excel a popular choice for storing customer information that grows in detail over time, because you can add fields as they’re needed without causing any problems with the existing data.
Businesses will continue to use Excel as a primary tool for diverse functions and applications ranging from IT projects to company picnics. Excel is a powerful tool but cannot function alone. It takes a savvy computer user to take advantage of everything Excel has to offer to provide the best results for your company.
Editor’s note: I can take an list of a million email leads, sort by domain, eliminate problem words, and implement a have a dozen cleaning processes, easily quickly and faster than with any database sofware. If you have time to learn only one application, excel is it.