5 More Ways Businesses Struggle & How Excel Can Help

Firstly I would like to say that this is the second part of a two part post, the first one is entitled ‘5 Ways Businesses Struggle and How Excel Can Help‘. If you haven’t read it and this post interests you, I suggest that you read the first post. The first post was numbered one to five, so this one will be from six to ten.

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.

Six. Invoice tracking. This is usually a tricky thing if you don’t have a complete software package that tracks these sort of things. I have seen everything from writing on invoice copies and putting them in individual trays to trying to rely on memory. This is a fairly simple issue to solve with Excel – a database of invoices, amounts and what has been paid could provide you with valuable information like how much is outstanding and how much has been paid. If you have more Excel knowledge and you have the invoices generated in Excel, you could link the two so that if an invoice is marked as paid on the database, it will show up that it is paid on the actual invoice. That’ll impress clients no end. Even further, with a bit of VBA code, you can have invoices uploaded to the database at the click of a button! Magic! (Not really, but it looks impressive).

Seven. Plotting on maps. For those of you who use Excel will be thinking that the only way to get maps is to buy a plug-in (Except for Excel 2013 which has US maps). This is not the case. I used to work as a field sales representative, and I was in a city which I hadn’t been in for long so I wasn’t sure where anything was. I was also unsure as to which areas were closer to others in order to plot my route. It took hours in Google Maps and copying and pasting information to try and get instructions for myself for the following week. Waste of time. I got hold of a database of post codes with longitude and latitude co-ordinations. Mixing this with the cunning use of point graphs meant that I had an interactive client base. Select the client name, all the details pop up and the location is plotted on the map. How easy is that? That saved me hours every week! Please note that these are fixed maps and are used for location plotting only, you can’t zoom in to see exact directions.

Eight. Diary schedule. Do you have a database of all of your current jobs? No? Excel can create one for you, provided all of your jobs are on individual job cards created in Excel, but this is not what this point is about (I have covered a similar problem in point 5). How convenient would it be to have all of the project dates in a calendar? You can get Excel to search all of the dates in the database and plot them on a calendar on the respective dates. Even if the project goes over more than one day! How do you do this you ask? Well, that is my secret!

Nine. Stickers. Stickers? Do you have jobs on the go where you think, I really could do with some labels for these products with the relevant job/product information on? Well, if you have the job/product information in Excel already, you can send that information to another page. Some simple adjustments to the formatting of that page, can line them up with available sticker/label sheets! Job done!

Ten. Client updates. Seeing as you have read all nine points now, and are doing all of your administration work in Excel like a champ, you will have all of your data available. This means that you can select certain information which you wish for the client to see. You can even select further information (from a table) based on the clients details. In other words, if the invoice says paid, you can convert that to an entire sentence or paragraph instead. Once you have this page created with information from the client’s file, it can easily be saved as a stand alone PDF sheet, which means that they will only see what you require them to see. This can be sent to the client as a simple email attachment! Saves you writing up a whole email to keep clients up to date – as you update you own information, the client’s information is updated automatically. When you want to send the client an update, just save as a PDF and send it off, simple.

I hope that you have a better understanding of what Excel can do. I have written about these 10 problems because I have come across them and personally solved them all. You may have another issue which I have not mentioned, and I would love to have the chance to see if I can solve them (with the help of Excel). I started Spreadsheet Solutions because I love Excel, helping companies and a good challenge! As you can see above, most of these points are solvable, but it is far more comprehensive if they are all done in Excel. One ‘package’ to combine everything, just like bespoke programmed business software, only more cost effective!

Have a look at our free download section for some free Excel software, or some PDF brochures for some software already created.

Thanks for reading.

Richard Sumner

Please share this if you think others will find it useful!