New Horizons Get Schooled Blog

You did WHAT with Excel?

You did WHAT with Excel? Many consider Microsoft Excel to be the "swiss-army-knife of software" while others have no idea just how extensive its capabilities are. We explore the various different ways different people use the many tools of Excel. Travel deeper into this amazing, versatile productivity provider and expand your own portfolio of magic you can work with Excel.

“Only the fool says “I have nothing left to learn”

This is especially true when it comes to using Microsoft Excel. Think of the person you know who you consider to be the most expert at using Excel. Now estimate how much of what Excel can do your friend knows how to use. If you guessed anywhere above 20% either your friend is extraordinary or the majority of analysts are wrong. Their estimates range from 95% of users knowing how to use less than 5% of what Excel can do, to maybe 20% loosely based on Pareto’s “80/20 rule.”

“I Didn’t Know it Could Do That!”

Many users report being overwhelmed by “Pivot Tables” yet those who use them sing their praises. Truly advanced users take advantage of the ability to create automated “macros” or visual basic for applications (VBA) to make Excel do handsprings.

Many “Excel experts” point at Conditional Formatting as their favorite little-used capability, pointing out that this can be used to create an interactive “dashboard” on your spreadsheet. Nested formulas are also not for the feint of heart, but they make it far easier to parse strings if you’re into that kind of thing.

VLookup is also a popular function that gets less love because of its sophistication, but it’s far easier to use than functions like DatedIf, RoundUp, RoundDown, Evaluate, Convert, Roman, FactDouble, Bahttext and others. These are not even documented! (In fairness, your version of Excel may no longer include these.)

Some advanced users find it easy to use sophisticated capabilities like filters, index matching, flash fill, absolute references, freeze panes, statistical analysis, regression analysis, and many others.

Some of these terms are probably familiar to you, and others are not. That puts you in good company, as it is likely the case with most people. It can safely be said that, when it comes to Excel, you really don’t know what you don’t know!

A Popular Data Management Tool

Some may not be aware that Excel is among the favorite tools for those who manage data and often must transfer data from one platform to another. Many transfer the data first to Excel, then convert it to comma-separated values (CSV), or simply plain text. Then the converted data is transferred to the ultimate destination. This is a common use of Excel among database administrators (DBA).

The More You Know

You may be waiting for the big “So What?” So here it is.

The more you know about a platform with this much functionality, the greater the variety of tasks you can perform. The greater the variety of tasks you can perform, the wider your choice of available job positions and the higher salary you can command.

It is absolutely true that most people learn what they need to know to use Excel in their job and stop there. You can set a dramatic difference in your desirability in vastly diverse fields including finance, insurance, engineering, architecture, operations, and many more by being proactive and learning much more of what Excel can do. To get started, have a conversation with your New Horizons Career Counselor today!

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Posted on 3/5/19 8:00 AM by Get Schooled in Excel, in excel tips & tricks, in Formatting Excel, in Microsoft Excel, in Tips & Tricks

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