Using Excel as Business Software

I love using Excel. I have created business software with it on numerous occasions, as well as custom spreadsheets and even games and quizzes! Most people that I come across are under-using it. Not because Excel can’t do more, just because they can’t do more with Excel! Most people use it for some kind of financial sheet or database. I usually come across a very bland looking spreadsheet with some columns and a whole bunch of data, with the occasional equation, sometimes even making use of a function or two. Excel can do this, yes, but it can do so much more!

If you would like to see more practical issues that Excel can solve, please take a look at our website, otherwise keep on reading. If you go out and pay a computer software firm an exorbitant amount of money, they will create you a bespoke software package. This will usually consist of some kind of input page where you capture all of the information required by the software, in other words all of the clients details. This is then stored as data and then becomes available on other applications, such as invoices. This then makes your life so much easier as everything is in one place and it helps you or your staff not to forget anything. There is obviously a demand for such software as large companies pay millions for custom software.

What about the smaller companies, or even larger companies who can’t or won’t pay the high prices required for custom software? That is exactly why I started Spreadsheet Solutions! Before I started doing this professionally, I created many Excel spreadsheets for myself, friends, family and even friends of friends. As soon as people saw what Excel was capable of they were keen to use it. In fact, most clients I go and see have an idea of what they want me to do, but when I get there and show them what I can do, they have to re-think things as they realise that I can cover so much more than they expected. Spreadsheets can have many sheets, some I have done have had over 30, so there is no shortage of what you can include. They also don’t have to be boring. With a little clever formatting, they can be in your corporate colours, have your company logo, even have parts that change colour depending on the data. Most people have it in columns, which looks very ordinary, but what if you created it from a grid? If you make all of the columns narrow, and then combine columns as you needed them, you could create almost any format or structure that you required, yet still get everything to line up!

Now all of the functions which I mentioned that custom programmed software did, Excel can do too. In fact, programmed software usually relies on a database, which means that you can use that data to extract just about any information that you require. Let’s be honest, most of us are creatures of habit. We only use 5 of the possible 50 functions, and then the spreadsheet maybe doesn’t do exactly what we require, or the layout isn’t how we want it. Excel can be programmed (whether using macros or formulas) to do what you want, and achieve the layout you desire. This means that often instead of running a report, just click on the desired tab and it is all done already. Customised to do exactly what you require! If you have standard documentation that you send to clients to keep them informed of the progress of their job, or quotes, invoices, job cards, installation instructions, delivery notes, purchase orders, progress charts, costings, financial summaries or just about anything that requires information from a specific job, laid out in a structured, template format, Excel can do it!

You can even stop the spreadsheet from scrolling too far, so you don’t end up scrolling 500 lines past the end by mistake, so that what you require is right there and no more. You can also lock spreadsheets while leaving certain cells unlocked, so that you can lock all of the cells with formulas, and only leave the cells that require input unlocked. This means that no one can edit anything they shouldn’t, or delete any important formulas by mistake. There are other ways of preventing people from filling in data unless other criteria are met, if that is required.

If a spreadsheet is done to the maximum, it won’t look like a spreadsheet anymore but rather like software. It will be clearly laid out as you require, even to match stationery or existing layouts if needed. It will be user friendly and locked for everyone’s safety. All your required templates will be structured already and as you add information once, that data will filter throughout all of the sheets, filling in the necessary cells with the desired text or figures. These spreadsheets can be saved in folders as you require, and the space that they take up is minimal. The other beauty about this is that most people already have Microsoft Office on their computers, so now you will just be putting it to good use! If you don’t, or you have a Mac, these documents can be opened with Open Office, which is free to download.

So there you have it, this is why I use Excel for business software, and why I started Spreadsheet Solutions. If you would like some more information, please look at our website, and if you would like to see a spreadsheet in action, have a look at our free download section and see if there is anything there that interests you. You will need to enter your name and email, but don’t worry, you won’t go on a database, maybe just one email to follow up to see what you thought of the download.

I hope that this opens up possibilities for you and your business, if we can help, we would love to!

Richard Sumner

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