What are the best spreadsheet applications in business?
A spreadsheet is an excellent tool for managing data and figures in companies. Each task generates numbers. Hours worked, units produced, material consumption expressed in money, income, expenses, salaries, etc.
More than handling concepts and metrics arranged in rows and columns, exploiting the spreadsheet applications consists of obtaining reports that help monitor a project, business area, and decision-making.
In this post, I will talk about the Excel spreadsheet and the features that will help you get the most out of data management.
I also include recommendations on what to do and what actions to avoid in Excel.
Here Are the top 6 Spreadsheet & Database Management tools:
What is a Spreadsheet
It is a computer program that allows the processing of numerical and alphanumeric information organized in cells.
A cell is the intersection of a row and a column.
What is a spreadsheet for?
It allows the organization of information by project, topic, or business area.
It allows simple and complex calculations.
It allows for obtaining summaries of information for monitoring and decision making.
To be used as a data source for other computer programs.
Business-to-business data sending
Information management is a daily task in all areas of a business.
Companies usually have their corporate software, such as ERP, custom development, and IT security policies.
In the business relationship, a need arises to access information, whether as a customer, partner, or supplier.
The sending of data and figures between companies facilitates the continuation of information flow and even business operations.
Spreadsheet applications – cross-company information
One of the main applications of a spreadsheet is the processing of information from another company.
Requirements for clients
This is a very important procedure in terms of information management between businesses and of mutual benefit for both the seller and the customer.
Knowing customers’ needs regarding the material to sell, its characteristics, delivery date, allow the company that sells, to plan the manufacture and / or supply of the products for their timely fulfillment.
The information organized in spreadsheets like Excel will be of great help.
Report with sales detail
The detail of the products purchased is very useful for customers. Know
- Volume or quantity supplied.
- Product quality indicators.
- Balances to be manufactured or supplied.
- Delivery dates.
- Billing information.
It will allow the client to continue with the information operations in his business, in addition to monitoring the sales orders.
Assortment levels in inputs
Inputs are essential components in the operation of companies. In a spreadsheet such as Excel, organizing the information on supply needs allows determining, among others.
- Assortment levels.
- Time cycles for assortment.
- Obsolete supplies
List of products and services
This is one of the most practical spreadsheet applications. Placed in a visible place such as the corporate website, it is a way to help customers and attract prospects.
It will be of great help to those interested in allowing them to download the spreadsheet.
Organizing information such as the product catalog in a spreadsheet offers the following advantages for clients or potential clients.
Knowing characteristics such as dimensions, quality codes, weight allows them to determine which products on the list meet the requirements to meet a specific need.
Knowing the price per product allows the interested party also to generate their purchase budget in a spreadsheet.
Like products for sale, making the list of required inputs available makes it easier for interested suppliers, not only to participate as such. But also invalidating the compatibility of the products offered with the requirements of your client.
Interface with business computer systems
One of the applications of the spreadsheet is to interface with the computer systems in a company.
The business areas have information management needs locally; that is, Excel is an excellent tool for this on personal computers.
Spreadsheet Applications and New Business Systems
When new computer systems are implemented, one of the tasks to start the massive load of information.
The spreadsheet is an appropriate tool to feed the database of new systems.
Conversion of information to company nomenclature
Approve identification codes
Does the following example sound familiar to you?
A company sells 2 types of sports shoes
- Sports footwear for soccer and its identification code C0101.
- Sports shoes for runners and its code is C0102.
In the sales process, the customer requests information on the business transaction and requests that it be sent to him using his own identification codes.
A similar situation occurs with suppliers, who when sending their information will need to be converted to the nomenclature of the company.
This need may also arise between different business areas.
Recommendation for data naming conversion
How to solve this type of situation?
One way is to use equivalence tables in Excel; that is, in a first column it contains the internal codes, and in a second column the external codes.
This table will be a reference for the conversion, using elements from an Excel spreadsheet such as formulas.
Preparation of daily reports
One of the information management needs for most companies is the preparation of daily reports.
Either at the beginning or at the end of the day, the day’s tasks are monitored, both in their detail, and through a summary of the most relevant metrics. Both functions, managing detailed information and obtaining totals or summarized concepts, can be carried out through Excel spreadsheets.
Some examples of spreadsheet applications in daily reports.
- Attendance and absenteeism report.
- Billing report.
- Production report.
- Product quality report.
- Cost report.
- Material consumption report.
Producing daily reports can represent a routine and at the same time meticulous task, since obtaining condensed reports requires applying a considerable number of steps, such as ordering the data, classifying it, applying formulas, etc.
To facilitate its preparation, one of the applications of the Excel spreadsheet consists of automating this type of report using Macros .
The macro functionality consists of recording the sequence of steps to obtain the result of a report.
The next time the report is required, the macro is run and the Excel program automatically reproduces the sequence of steps.
- Avoid human error.
- Speed in obtaining the report.
- Ease of macro execution.
Analysis of data
With data management, questions arise around the performance of an area of the business.
- What is the staff turnover rate?
- Compliance with quality standards.
- Sales performance by product.
- The best clients according to the volume of sales.
With the pivot table functionality, you can get the answer information for questions like the ones above.
An ease and advantage is the versatility in handling the result – of the dynamic table -.
For example, if the original report contains a date column, you can change the grouping of the result to month, quarter, years.
Information management example using pivot tables
In the following example, a pivot table is built from a sports shoe sales report.
Preparation of executive reports
Like the pivot tables, this is another of the spreadsheet applications in Excel, which helps answer questions about business performance.
The difference is that executive reports are usually presented in addition to table format, by means of graphs, columns, circles, lines.
The results obtained in the dynamic tables can be used as a source of data to elaborate the graphs. With these reports, important decisions can be made.
This is a very useful feature for use as a local application, on a personal or desktop computer.
Format the information
Even though the Excel spreadsheet applications’ strengths are financial operations, Mathematics, the use of functions and formulas, the design of a report in this program is not limited to the presentation of rows and columns with data.
Some options to enhance the presentation of your reports are as follows.
Cell Delineation Using Borders
Using single or double lines, with different styles and colors, the borders help to delimit a cell or group of cells.
Borders can be applied to all report content, headings only, totals, per column, per line. In this aspect, you have to try different designs to verify which is the most appropriate.
Highlight report headings
This design effect contributes to better reporting.
- Headers with a larger font size than the content.
- Headers highlighted with a different color.
- Apply color to cell.
- Center text to multiple cells
Effect of bold to totals
It is a very useful effect; it can be applied to cuts by concept or subtotals.
Using colors with the conditional formatting functionality
This option helps to identify data of interest in the report.
For example, in a product quality report. Identify those results that do not meet the established criteria, a different color, applying the Conditional Formatting functionality .
Apply design and increase the visual value of the reports.
Expense control reports
Even when there is an official budget, there are situations that require additional outlays.
The control of cash flow is an activity that is monitored in companies. In what has been invested, what are the administrative expenses.
The expense control reports are from the applications that can be managed through the Excel spreadsheet.
Here are some examples.
Extraordinary expenses in the office
- For unscheduled courtesies to clients, partners.
- Corrective maintenance to equipment.
- Office supplies in addition to budgeted.
- Expenses related to advertising campaigns, event management.
- Additional budget for salary increases.
Travel planning or per diem reports
The Excel spreadsheet is a great option for reporting travel expenses.
- Personal expenses.
- Representation expenses, among others.
It is also available online.
It allows you to share documents with other people, or companies, for example with clients.
Also, you will find templates for different spreadsheet applications.
Many of the functions of the Excel spreadsheet are available in the online version.
Excel is not a word processor
As mentioned above, the strength of the Excel program and other spreadsheets is based on the ease of calculation operations and formula handling.
Explode this fortress. To write texts in documents, the spreadsheet is not the appropriate program. If this is your case, use word processors like Word.
Visual reports in programs for executive presentations
Reports, such as those containing graphics, are suitable for executive presentations.
For these types of presentations the power point program is more appropriate.
Check the versions of the Excel program
Like all softwares, Excel periodically updates the version of the program.
From version to version different changes are presented, In the menus, new functionalities, in the formulas.
Verify the functioning of the reports, when updating the version, when sending or receiving reports from other areas of the business, from customers, from suppliers.
Use nested formulas
Grouping formulas will be of great help to you in managing the operations in the reports; for example
If you want to know in cell C1 the result when dividing the values of cells A1 and B1, the operation in C1 to use will be
A1 / B1
If you want to round to zero decimal places in cell D1, the formula to use will be
If both formulas are applied, the rounded value can be obtained directly in cell C1
round ((A1 / B1), 0)
How many operations can you save in the report by grouping formulas?
Improve visual formatting of formula operations
The result of some calculation operations may result in error; specific case when dividing by zero, the value in the resulting cell will be # DIV / 0! or #ERROR .
Avoid presenting these types of results. Assign a code or the value of zero.
There is much that the Excel spreadsheet can do for the management of personal and company figures and data.
More than 16000 columns and more than a million rows in recent versions, it allows to manage large volumes of data.
The keys to making the best use of the applications of an Excel spreadsheet are
Know the functionality of the menus.
Know what each formula can do with the data.
Apply data conversion based on your own needs or the recipient.
Clarity in the type of report you want to obtain.
Manage the condensates of information for decision making.
What did you think of this post? What are your experiences with spreadsheet applications? I invite you to share your experiences through a comment.