The Importance of Excel in Business

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) Excel is a spreadsheet software application used to store, organize, and analyze data. It was released in 1985 and has grown to become arguably the most important computer program in workplaces around the world. In business, any function in any industry can benefit from those with strong Excel knowledge.

Excel is a powerful tool that has become entrenched in business processes worldwide—whether for analyzing stocks or issuers, budgeting, or organizing client sales lists.

Key Takeaways

  • Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet application used to manipulate stored data.
  • Finance and accounting professionals choose Excel for its complex analytical and computing features.
  • Microsoft Excel enables users to identify trends and organize and sort data into meaningful categories.
  • Excel also performs Human Resources functions, such as sorting worked hours and organizing employee profiles and expenses, which help businesses better understand the structure and activities of their workforce.
  • Pivot tables summarize data from a worksheet into a chart.

Finance and Accounting

Financial services and financial accounting are the areas of finance that rely on and benefit from Excel spreadsheets the most. In the 1970s and early 1980s, financial analysts would spend weeks running advanced formulas either manually or (beginning in 1983) on programs like Lotus 1-2-3. Now, you can perform complex modeling in minutes with Excel.

Walk through the finance or accounting department of any major corporate office, and you will see computer screens filled with Excel spreadsheets crunching numbers, outlining financial results, and creating budgets, forecasts, and plans used to make major business decisions.

Most users know that Excel can add, subtract, multiply, and divide, but it can do much more with advanced IF functions when coupled with VLOOKUP, INDEX-MATCH-MATCH, and pivot tables.

Marketing and Product Management

While marketing and product professionals look to their finance teams to do the heavy lifting for financial analysis, using spreadsheets to list customer and sales targets can help you manage your salesforce and plan future marketing strategies based on past results.

Using a pivot table, users can quickly and easily summarize customer and sales data by category with a quick drag-and-drop.

Human Resources Planning

While database systems like Oracle (ORCL), SAP (SAP), and Quickbooks (INTU) can be used to manage payroll and employee information, exporting that data into Excel allows users to discover trends, summarize expenses and hours by pay period, month, or year, and better understand how their workforce is spread out by function or pay level.

In Excel, all dates prior to March 1, 1900 are incorrect due to an irreparable error.

HR professionals can use Excel to take a giant spreadsheet full of employee data and understand exactly where the costs are coming from and how to best plan and control them for the future.

You Can Do Anything With a Spreadsheet

Using Excel for business has almost no limits for applications. Here are some examples:

  • When planning a team outing to a baseball game, you can use Excel to track the RSVP list and costs.
  • Excel creates revenue growth models for new products based on new customer forecasts.
  • When planning an editorial calendar for a website, you can list out dates and topics in a spreadsheet.
  • When creating a budget for a small product, you can list expense categories in a spreadsheet, update it monthly and create a chart to show how close the product is to budget across each category.
  • You can calculate customer discounts based on monthly purchase volume by product.
  • Users can summarize customer revenue by product to find areas where to build a stronger customer relationships.
  • Use complex calculation methods, like Sharpe ratios.

Excel was the first software application to use a toolbar.

Excel Is Not Going Anywhere

Excel is not going anywhere, and businesses will continue to use Excel as a primary tool for diverse functions and applications ranging from IT projects to company picnics.

Working knowledge of Excel is vital for most office-based professionals today, and stronger Excel skills can open the door to promotion and leadership opportunities. Excel is a powerful tool but cannot function alone. It takes a savvy computer user to take advantage of everything Excel has to offer to provide the best results for their company.

What Is Microsoft Excel and How Is It Used in Business?

Microsoft Excel is a computer software program that uses spreadsheets to organize and analyze stored data. Businesses use Excel for budgeting, analysis, forecasting, spotting trends, reporting, and more.

How Can You Create a Business Budget in Excel?

Excel is outfitted with many templates for personal and business uses. The simplest way to create a business budget is to select a budget template that’s most appropriate for your business. Most contain labels for input, formulas for analysis, and other worksheets for the most recognized budgeting categories, such as income, personnel expenses, and operating expenses. Users can also manually create their budget, inputting their labels, tables, and formulas.

How Do You Track Business Expenses in Excel?

Excel contains templates for tracking expenses. One of the most commonly used is the Expense Report template with categories for specific business-related expenses. Data is organized into columns with column headers or labels that can be changed or deleted if not fitting for the user’s business. The template is formatted for ease of use, allowing the user to input data into designated cells. Users can also create their expense reports manually.