Microsoft Office, and in particular Excel, has become one of the few applications truly seen everywhere. Whether you run an independent business as a one-man-show, or you are responsible for the data of a multinational corporation, chances are at least a part of your data storage and manipulation is occurring on Excel. Despite its overwhelming market share and massive popularity, there are relatively few people who really take advantage of Excel’s capabilities to their fullest. It is a powerful program that, in the right hands, can save enormous amounts of time and energy when it comes to handling business data.
Pivot Tables: A Rarely Used But Powerful Feature
Anyone familiar with Excel will be familiar with tables; the application is built to arrange data into neatly organized columns and rows. Pivot tables help organize and manipulate data, and are especially useful when dealing with large numbers that can be difficult to see patterns when simply reading them. The pivot table is most useful when you have redundant copies of certain data fields, such as you’d be likely to have in employee reports, inventories, customer relation worksheets and accounting reports of nearly any kind.
If you have this kind of worksheet open, select the data by dragging the cursor over it and create a pivot table by opening the Insert menu and clicking on Create Pivot Table. This will open up a data selection menu on the right hand side of the screen where you can select which row or column you’d like to pivot table to display. Pivoting presents all of the data on the worksheet as a function of the data category you select. This is very useful for summarizing data quickly without having to use formulas, which brings us to the next power feature you should know.
Use Formulas to Find out Individual Per-Dollar Employee Revenues
Most Excel users get by with the simple arithmetic formulas that the application makes very accessible. However, there are plenty of innovative ways to use these formulas to get information important for your business. As an example: Let’s say you have an employee salary worksheet that lists the total value of each employee’s sales as well as each respective employee’s salary. By strictly comparing the numbers, you may see that better-paid employees provide you more revenue, but do they cover their own costs in comparison with their colleagues?
To find this out, you can create a new column that divides each employee’s salary by the revenue they generate. This will give you an idea of how many dollars each employee generates per dollar paid in wages. You may find that your top performing salespeople actually cost more than they bring in or that your best performers are not your best paid employees.
Once you’ve found this data, you can use Excel’s Count function to determine how many of your employees are top performers. Count seems simple, and it is, but by using it to count datasets that are themselves the result of other functions (such as the per-dollar revenue stream mentioned above) you can answer important questions such as: What percentage of your employees are performing above average? Below average? This is a quick and powerful way to offer performance-based rewards in businesses with lots of employees who have different wages and salaries.
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