Monday, July 9, 2018

The Practical Value, In Life And Work, Of Knowing Microsoft Excel Enough To Do You Own Templates And Analysis

People are surprised when I tell them that my first (and only) degree is in Electrical and Electronics Engineering. And unlike many people, I had the chance to go back to the core Engineering role I studied for but I didn't, only asked my boss to keep the offer open in case I get bored with Microsoft Excel. Now I make my full-time living from Microsoft Excel.

So what are the practical value you get from being good at using Microsoft Excel?

Let's start with in general life, outside of work. Especially for people whose work won't need them using Microsoft Excel.

1. Non-work Use
What do you think I and many other people use for their personal finance planning and investment analysis? Well, it is Microsoft Excel. Even when you buy a personal finance book and additional resources are given you for practical application of what the book is teaching you, those resources often include Microsoft Excel templates.

What do you think people use to track the performance of their side business? Actually, people use all kinds of things to track their side hustle -- from paper + biro, word of mouth, intuition, Microsoft Excel, to sophisticated apps/software. Hope you noticed Microsoft Excel in the list. If you don't have money for sophisticated apps/software and don't want to use paper + pen, Microsoft Excel is more than enough.

What do people use to plan major events and major projects expenses? Microsoft Excel.

Having a good grasp of Microsoft Excel can make many tedious non-work (or even non-data related work) activities a breeze. Imagine an IT guy needing to create email accounts for 120 newly employed staff. With Excel, all he needs to do to reduce the number of keystrokes significantly is to copy their first name and last name into Excel in separate columns, then CONCATENATE (and LEFT if the company uses initials in the email format). 

There are many non-Excel and non-work related stuff I have used Excel for and see others use Excel for. One example I even created a template around for people not Excel savvy is the need to send bulk SMS to dozens or hundreds of people and not wanting to spend an hour on arranging the numbers in the format most bulk SMS platforms require. Another is sending personalized email to your group or community members without doing it one by one or using an email marketing app.

The knowledge of Excel is as good and versatile as the knowledge of basic mathematics. You will always find situations where it will save you time and even prevent you from making wrong decisions.

2. Work Use
The moment you aspire to be part of management, to rise to the level of a CEO or CMO or CFO or COO or CIO or CTO, that moment is your clue to knowing that you can't escape the use of Microsoft Excel in your career. At that top, everything falls on data-driven strategy. You can't sweet talk your fellow CxO and board into doing something you haven't done the Excel analysis around.

I constantly come across people who have risen in their career, following a very technical path, and then suddenly they are part of management or need to work very closely with management, and find that their low competence in using Excel and carrying out data-driven analysis is an embarrassing weakness.

Then there are programmers who just love to hate Excel. They represent a category of people who would like to use something complicated for everything. Then they start having issues with managers who want some type of reports that are best made in Excel. Occasionally, I see them spend time coding a program to do something one off, something very easy and fast to do in Excel. They still don't see the value of Excel until I do it for them in Excel and they go WOW! 

Lastly, if you are a sales analyst or finance manager or accountant or project manager or marketing manager or operations manager or human resource manger and you are not very proficient in the use of Microsoft Excel you might be jeopardizing your productivity. You are supposed to focus more on high level strategy and guiding the management than fighting with data. Being very good with Excel will mean more insightful reports, fast comprehensive analysis, better chart-backed presentations and better decision making based on data. 

If you feel convinced enough to want to up your Excel competence, you can take advantage of my company's free training resources or even take my Udemy course with a certificate for free using this coupon link (just 96 coupons available via that link).

All the best!


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