Everyone related to marketing and business know that Microsoft’s Excel program is probably one of the most powerful programs in the modern computer toolkit. It’s ability to organize and present data has completely changed the world since its first appearance. However, Excel takes the phrase “Easy to Learn, Hard to Master,” to a bold extreme. While most people can learn the basic of building a spreadsheet in a few minutes, many grow frustrated by all the additional tools and shortcuts they can’t fathom. In response, online courses have sprung up by the hundreds online to teach business professionals the finer points of excel. However, with so many options, including many that cost considerable money, you may wonder which is right for you. Whether just starting out with HR training, or looking to make the jump to Excel master, these subjects are essential study and should be included in the course.
The formula is the essential building block of all of Excel higher functions. Formulas are a way to make calculations in Excel. For example, if you wish a cell on Excel to contain the solution to adding two other cells together, you write the formula into the cell and it displays it. These formulas are the principal way to manipulate data in the program for business modeling, reports or databases. Since they auto-update, it is a major time saver from the start. As you learn to write formulas, it becomes the foundation of the rest of the program. Even if you aren’t a beginner, plenty of time should be committed to this.
A major statistical tool in Excel in COUNTIF. This allows the user to count the number of cells that share a desired criterion. Added to formulas, this skill can locate repetitions in long tables. Without learning this tool, you can be trapped doing tallies by hand.
Another editing tool that cannot be done without is VLOOKUP. This tool makes it easy to search a long list of values for a specific one. It can also be used as a formula to build sorted lists. If you intend to use excel as a tool to manage large lists of figures, this tool is needed.
One of the most important advanced tools is the pivot table. This tool allows you to condense large tables of raw information into just the significant data point you want. It also then lets you control these points by other data on hand. For example, if you have a data list that gives you product shipments; with info on where it came from, what it is, how much it cost, and how many units of the product. Pivot tables can condense it into a table that tells you how many units of each product total you have. However, you can then use the table to only count the units from one location. This tool is the best way to deal with giant data dumps for record keeping. Any advanced course should teach this as a matter of course.
Finally, one of the greatest tools that an Excel course can teach is VBA. As you can learn at a coding academy, VBA is the coding language that Excel uses. Writing in VBA will allow you to bypass the user interface all together. This opens the door for you to create your own customized and interactive spreadsheets. Knowing VBA also lets you tweak the programs automations and macros, which will leave the program to do the repetitive work of data entry while you focus on more important things. While this skill is very rare in online courses, and those that do are mostly pay courses, it is well worth hunting down.
Every competent businessperson should consider whether taking a course in excel, whether online or off, would improve their productivity. For most it will, but only if the course teaches the right building blocks to improve your skill with the program. As a result, keeping an eye out for these five lessons will guarantee your course will make you and Excel Master.