Why businesses have to master spreadsheets

You will never go wrong with a deep mastery of spreadsheets. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Any business that starts up today has a plethora of tools that are meant to make it easier to run and manage operations. Some of these software tools are purchased for offline installation on personal computers or mobile phones while others are offered under subscription basis in the now familiar cloud.

At the core of any business operation is its revenue model, which for many purists starts off on a piece of paper or whiteboard before making it to another digital medium, running different scenarios with the agenda of arriving at a net positive position or some level of business intelligence at the end of it all.

Today I pay homage to the humble spreadsheet whose superpowers many modern day users of computers are yet to fully unlock and benefit from, having stopped their education and use at what I call ‘conversational excel’. Excel is the spreadsheet made popular by parent company Microsoft that bundled it into its popular Office suite. There are however many other vendors out there like Google Docs, Open Office and Libre Office to name a few.

‘Conversational Excel’ is the kindergarten level of spreadsheets and this is where a large majority of users fall, only able to carry out simple tasks after which other pieces of software or specific executives take over to compete given tasks, which often carries an overhead by way of remuneration or license purchase. From the business owner running a lean operation with a small team to the multinational with revenues in the billions, advanced operational spreadsheet knowledge is an indispensable skill that can deliver great benefits if mastered.

In the global clarion call for everyone to learn how to code, I feel no better platform to begin than with spreadsheets that support macros, functions that one can record or write out directly for the purpose of automating repetitive tasks that manipulate data.

The value that spreadsheets deliver on business analytics and interactive visualisations underpin the enterprise at its core, either confirming desired positions or surfacing anomalies that can be quickly interrogated and remedy applied for corrective effect.

Data driven organisations build up daily on their competitive advantage and the ability of staff from the boardroom to the production floor to work with, manipulate, combine, extract, compare and generally play with data available to them must be encouraged and facilitated.

You will never go wrong with a deep mastery of spreadsheets.

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Note: The results are not exact but very close to the actual.