5 Ways Businesses Struggle and How Excel can Help

Having been in business for many years, I have often found myself in the situation where I have had to create an Excel document or two to help companies improve their processes. I have come across many different issues and solved them with Excel, so I have written this in case your business struggles with some of the same issues. I hope this helps you.

One. Administration processes are far more complicated than they need to be. People spend hours altering old quotes, invoices, job cards and other templates, and then saving them as new documents. They then have various files saved in various folders and nothing is linked. Most of the time I find that people are too scared to use Excel, so all of these templates are done mostly in Word, which is fine but could be better. This method also means that you are entering information like the client details, job number, job details or whatever else you require, numerous times a day for however long the project lasts. You may be reading this and saying, “Yes, but that is something that you just have to do”. Well it’s not. An Excel document can have various tabs, which means that you could have any documents that you require all in one file. This means that there is one file to save per client or project and that is it. No more copying, pasting and saving as. The other advantage of this method is that once information is entered, it will filter throughout the file, which means that information you enter will automatically fill all the relevant cells in all documents.

Two. Once your project is finished, it is usually a good idea to have someone go through the project to find out if it went according to plan. Did you make money, was it completed on time, what errors were made? All of this information is valuable to a company owner. Most companies employ people to do this analysis, but if all of this was done in Excel, the analysis can be done automatically. Using Excel can eliminate the extra man-hours to perform the project analysis, and it can produce statistics that are invaluable in determining the direction of your business.

Three. Budgeting seems to be something that is done at the end of a job and not during it. I have worked for so many companies over the years that look at the job afterwards to determine how much money was made, some even had to wait for the accountant’s report which could take months. I find this very strange when Excel has the capabilities of doing this on the go. Budget spreadsheets can be made to help you determine what to charge in the first place. They can then be tracked throughout the project, even keeping you up to date as you go along. You will be able to pre-determine categories and then watch your budget for each category. Don’t you think it would be handy to keep an eye on the budget as you progress? I can tell you that it is extremely helpful.

Four. People and companies love charts and graphs. They always help people see exactly what situation, financial or other, a project or client is in. I have heard people say that they would love to produce a graph or pie chart for a meeting, but they have not had the time or expertise to create one. Either that or someone has spent hours gathering information and drawing up charts, just for a meeting. Excel loves charts and graphs. It is easy to take the data and transform it into a visual display which I have used many a time to dazzle clients! If you know which graphs you will need, they can be pre-programmed so that they are updated automatically as you go along. Perfect.

Five. Deadlines and dates. There are so many companies who have to keep track of dates, whether it be project deadlines, or delivery or installation dates. People make notes in diaries or even have dates written up on the ‘board’, but I have seen dates missed because they were focussing on a more important project and a smaller one ‘fell through the cracks’. Most people don’t know this, but Excel is very useful with dates. You can keep track of your projects, even have a countdown on the job page if you like. Excel can then display all of your projects in one location and even colour code it so that you never miss another deadline again!

So there are five issues that Excel can help you with, there are many more as it is really up to your imagination and skill as to what you can accomplish. The other exciting information is that they can all be linked. You can have all of the features mentioned in this post in the same document. One job card, all the information and data at your fingertips! It can also be largely automated, which means minimal input, maximum information.

The only problem with this is that people have Excel as they know what it can do, but they struggle to get it to do what they require. This is a big problem, I have seen it often. This is why I have started Spreadsheet Solutions, as I want to help companies get the most out of Excel, as most people have it but don’t actually use it. I love to sit with clients, establish what they want and need, and then create something specifically for them. I enjoy helping people improve their businesses!

Please note that there is a second part to this article entitled, ‘5 More Ways Businesses Struggle and How Excel Can Help‘, if you enjoyed this article, please read that one too!

Thanks for reading.

Richard Sumner

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