Using Excel to Analyse Data

This month I have used Excel in a number of ways, all to analyse data. Excel is brilliant for doing just this, and recently I have used it for all sorts of applications from 360 Staff Appraisals to Web Form Analysis. People spend a fortune on staff appraisal systems, and they usually have to pay each time they do an appraisal, or at least monthly. I created a system using Excel, which I sell as a standard product, which enables you to customise the questions, categories and personnel who appraise the staff member. The beauty of this system is that it is sold as a once off, and can be used over and over again, by using the ‘saving as’ function. This is playing right into Excel’s strengths, as Excel is ideal for taking raw data and turning it into valuable statistics and reports. This is just one way of making use of Excel. If it is statistics that you want, this is just the beginning.

I started selling standard spreadsheets online, and I needed a system to manage this process. I didn’t want to worry about secure online payments, and I couldn’t automate the system, as the spreadsheets purchased need special customisation. No problem. I created a spreadsheet where I (or anyone else) would be able to capture the details which are filled in on the online order form. Once the details are captured, the invoice is automatically created, and all the respective lists are populated. All the statistics are updated, and I can get a wealth of valuable information, just by capturing what is filled in on the online web form. This is even sent to me by email, what could be easier? This means that a process which couldn’t be automated, is semi-automated, saving me precious time, while still keeping me in control of my business. Are you getting this kind of advantage from using Excel? If you’re not, you may not be using it to its potential.

I have also been approached by two clients in the last month to do spreadsheets to analyse web form data. Do you have an online web form, where you ask questions of your potential clients, enabling you to determine whether or not they are suitable clients? If so, what do you do with that raw data? I have used Excel to create templates, where you input the answers from the form (usually a number rating, or easily transferred to a number rating). These templates then automatically transfer that data into a customised report which can be saved as a PDF and sent to your client. Instead of just emailing your client, how impressed would they be if you sent them a custom report showing their situation using charts, graphs and comments? This can all be achieved with the right Excel document, only requiring you to input their answers (if you’re really clever and we set it out correctly, you could even copy and paste their answers to get the results!).

I decided that I wanted more statistics from my tweets. I use twitter for business, but I seem to send tweets out all the time, yet I’m never sure which ones get the best results (retweets and favourites). What is the best time to tweet? Which hashtags and handles are the best to include in my tweets? What day is it best to tweet? Is it best to include a picture or not? I turned to Excel for the answers, and I was not disappointed. I created a spreadsheet which allows me to capture my tweets, with some other information, and it creates many reports for me, which answers all of the above questions and more. Do you like the idea of that?

I can go on and on about how I have used Excel to analyse data, but I’m sure that you get the point. It is an invaluable tool if used properly, and can be customised for all individual needs. This is the beauty of this product, and the reason why it has been around for so long, and is still going strong. I hope that this article has inspired you to see how Excel can benefit your business. If you’re an Excel expert, I wish you happy Excel-ling. If you’re not, but you would like to take advantage of this versatile product, take a look at our website and see how we can help. If you’re based in the UK, we can help you. If you’re abroad, get hold of us and we’ll see if we can help you.

Here’s to a more productive future with Excel!

Richard Sumner

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