All businesses want to optimize their productivity. The problem is finding the best way to do so. In an age where new applications and software packages are being developed at a rapid rate, it can be tempting to try out the latest innovative in an effort to help company personnel work smarter, not harder.
Yet, there is one software package that has long been helping companies be productive for decades. The importance of MS Excel is as relevant today as it was thirty years ago when it was first introduced. This highly complex piece of software has so many features that it sometimes overwhelms users, while others may shy away from it completely, wrongly assuming that there must be a better software solution available.
The fact of the matter is that MS Excel, as freelance Excel experts will tell you, is an exceptionally powerful business tool.
What Is Excel?
Excel is arguably the world’s favorite piece of software. It is a spreadsheet package that greatly helps in data analysis and documentation. Users can record and sort a vast amount of information with Excel, and there are over 500 functions that can be used to analyze data or organize it in a more readable way. The result is that users can then use that data, and the analysis drawn from it, to make more informed business decisions so that a firm can become more profitable and productive.
Features of Excel That Are Best for a Business
Within Excel there are numerous functions that users can use to manipulate data and make it more usable for their purposes, but the truth is that very few users know every function, let alone use them in the most productive way.
Below are three features in Excel that are used extensively across a broad range of situations and industries. Understanding and learning how to use these can help harness the true power of Excel.
Excel worksheets can record and store such vast amounts of data that it can be hard to derive insightful conclusions from it. Pivot tables provide users with a fantastic way to manipulate data so that crucial findings can be extracted and used to help steer a business or individual in one direction over another. They provide a quick way of summarizing large amounts of information so users can zero in on the key facts that can make all the difference to how a business operates. Without the use of pivot tables, those findings would be difficult to pinpoint.
For businesses that employ individuals to do repetitive, keystroke tasks, the use of an Excel macro would improve their productivity exponentially. Macros can streamline activities by automating repetitive processes. In addition to improving efficiency, macros eliminate the chance of human error being introduced into the process.
The result being better time savings and increased efficiency. This happens because macros free-up personnel to spend their time adding value elsewhere in the business. And since they reduce the risk of human error, no time is spent trying to identify and correct any work that happened on the back of those errors.
Index Match is a powerful feature in Excel. When analyzing data, it can be used to look up values based on other values recorded in a wider data set or workbook. Index Match simplifies this task so that users can quickly find a value without having to trawl through a spreadsheet manually.
How to Use Excel to Improve Productivity
Given how powerful Excel can be—whether using the above features or any of the many others it has—it’s important that businesses use it correctly to improve productivity.
First and foremost, get personnel trained on the program—even those who say they are experienced users. Excel is such a large software solution that anyone will benefit from more training in addition to what they’ve already learned. It may take employees away from their desks or work, but it will provide time savings in the future that make the training more than worthwhile.
Practice makes perfect, so make sure your employees use their Excel skills as often as possible. This way, they won’t forget what they were taught during training sessions. Instead, they will hone their skills and use Excel to help improve processes straightaway. Productivity will be improved, and more people will see the benefits and adopt the use of Excel as a consequence.
Excel Is a Valuable Business Tool
Given how important data is, having a tool that can analyze vast amounts of it is crucial. That is just one of the reasons why Excel is valuable. Another is that it is a highly proficient piece of software that facilitates and improves the analysis of data.
But there are other less commonly considered reasons why Excel is so valuable. Perhaps most overlooked is its popularity. There is a high likelihood that employees have used the program before, so you are not starting from scratch. That can make training them easier and they can get up to speed faster. Finally, there are a diverse array of ways to leverage Excel, making it useful across different teams within the same company, as well as in many different industries.