You Can't Escape Excel

John Kogan's Profile

No matter how hard you try, you can’t escape Excel. It is an integral part of business these days. Even if your organization uses other software and systems, you likely end up working in Excel project after project. One study found that the ability to use spreadsheet software like Excel is a basic job requirement for nearly eight out of ten “middle-skill” jobs. So, whether you’re in the executive suite or just starting out, Excel is essential.

Despite how prevalent and important Excel is, many people don’t understand or know how to use it all that well. One company tested a variety of professionals on their Excel knowledge. While financial professionals did best, they only managed to get about half the questions correct. Other professionals averaged a mere 28% of correct answers. These are business professionals who use Excel on a daily basis, many of whom, I suspect, would tell you their Excel skills are “great”!

If your level of Excel know-how is on par with most other working professionals, you have a lot of room for improvement. Part of the problem is that the vast majority of professionals are self-taught in Excel. While that gets you through the day-to-day, it means you are missing important knowledge, taking longer to do many things and missing out on some capabilities altogether.

Mastering Excel Helps You

Knowing how to use Excel effectively and efficiently is essential to your success - not just in your day-to-day activity, but in your whole career. Learning handy shortcuts can be an easy way to speed up tasks you do every day.

For example, did you know you could speed up your Excel usage by utilizing the Quick Access Toolbar? You can customize it by inserting any commonly used commands into it. Right click on any command to add it to your QAT. Some of our favorite QAT shortcuts are for “Preview and Print”, “Email”, “Paste Values”, “Trace Precedents / Trace Dependents”, ”Group/Ungroup”, “Normal View/Page Break View”, “Freeze Panes”, and  “Select Visible Cells”. Knowing tips and tricks like this is just one part of maximizing your Excel usage.

While those shortcuts save you time immediately (and also impress your colleagues!), it’s the more advanced techniques that will really help you advance in your career.

Excelling in Excel Helps Your Company

Learning Excel skills doesn’t just help you - it helps your company too. Spreadsheet mistakes and errors cost companies billions of dollars. Yes, billions with a “b”. JPMorgan Chase learned that the hard way when a copy and pasting error resulted in a $6.2 billion trading loss. Even companies that don’t suffer from massive losses like that face problems with Excel.

Studies have shown that 88% of spreadsheets have errors. The cause of most of those errors is simply a mistake made by the person preparing the spreadsheet. Not every error is big, but small errors add up and can cause quite a mess. It can take someone (maybe you) hours to find and fix a tiny error. Of course, errors can happen to anyone. But they are less likely to occur when you truly understand the software. Learning how to excel in Excel could save your company a lot of time and money.

Maybe it’s time to get certified?

Certification training teaches important shortcuts and techniques that can save you hours every month. If you’re functioning at a 28% efficiency level like most of your peers, you have a lot of room for improvement. Imagine how much time you could save by doubling your efficiency.

Learning shortcuts is the quickest way to becoming more efficient, but there are many other techniques to learn as well. There are dozens of functions that will make your job easier, and all of them are covered in a quality Excel Certification program.  You’ll even learn more complicated aspects like PivotTables and Sparklines.

Becoming a Certified Expert in Excel will set you apart from your colleagues in your company. You could become the person your company turns to for Excel expertise, nicely putting yourself in position for a raise – or even a promotion. Understanding the importance of Excel and mastering the software help you and your company. It’s a win-win for everyone.