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An excellent update to Microsoft Excel

It’s difficult to create budget plans, data entry records, and financial information without a productivity tool like Microsoft Excel. Over the years, it’s been a staple in most offices because of its many useful functions, which aid in making business decisions a lot easier. And with a new feature, Excel has become even handier.

Previous Excel upgrades include the addition of dynamic arrays and array formulas, a feature that enabled single formulas to return an array of values. Another upgrade was the Stocks and Geography function, which lets users add stock and geography data into a spreadsheet with the help of the search engine Bing. These are both useful, but Microsoft decided to add even more functionality to the program.

New data types

Excel has always been a formidable tool for storing text, numbers, and formulas and allowing users to process information out of them. Still, the data that one could put in Excel grids were limited because they were flat. Recent upgrades improve upon that limitation.

Luckily, users can now add data types to Excel, making the program more dynamic and intelligent. These data types effectively expand what information inside cells can do. In particular, cells can now contain not just text and number data, but a connected, up-to-the-minute collection of information such as currencies, cities, population, stocks, and the like. Simply put, cells can interact with charts and formulas with live data.

Data in cells can be used as a reference for an even larger collection of different data types, images, and actions. In other words, you’re no longer just typing data and writing formulas into a cell, although you can still do both. Rather, a cell can contain a specific set of information that branches out into subsets of data that you would otherwise need to type directly into the cell.

For example, if you’re creating or upgrading a customer information spreadsheet, things like transaction history, preferences, or phone numbers don’t have to be typed one by one. Adding customer-specific data types could simplify this process: entering a customer name in a cell would link to a network of information about a specific entry (i.e., customer) using a scroll-over menu, as opposed to having to enter all that information manually. This makes data input more flexible, efficient, and less prone to error resulting from copy-pasting and manual entry.

Enhancements for Power BI customers

It is, however, users of Microsoft Power BI, the company’s business intelligence program, who will greatly benefit from the upgrades. If your company uses Power BI, data published into your account will automatically link to Excel, which makes the flow of company data types into the program more seamless.

In addition, Microsoft’s data connection technology Power Query will allow users to create custom data types, while pre-configured data types (through a partnership with knowledge engine provider Wolfram Alpha) will also soon be added to let users track different types of information.

This only scratches the surface of what these Excel upgrades can do. For more Office and general productivity tips, consult our IT experts today.

Published with permission from Source.

Choosing the right business dashboard

Dashboards have become extremely useful tools for companies to make the most of their raw data. With proper implementation, a dashboard can display essential information in an easy-to-understand format, allowing business owners to easily make informed decisions. But a dashboard can say a lot of things depending on its setup, and it’s important to choose one that can best serve your purpose. Here are three types of business dashboards to consider.

Strategic dashboards

Ideal for senior managers and executives, strategic dashboards are designed to help identify potential opportunities for business expansion and improvement. This type of dashboard gives a bird’s-eye view of your business and track performance metrics against enterprise-wide strategic goals.

They summarize performance over set time frames: past month, quarter, or year. They can contain anything from overall sales numbers to sales and revenue comparisons to inventory levels, making it easy for executives to understand the overall health of the organization and monitor the long-term company strategy.

Operational dashboards

Business owners use operational dashboards to monitor and measure in real time the effectiveness and efficiency of their employees’ progress in relation to their targets. Since these dashboards focus on tracking operational processes, they are often more detailed than strategic dashboards and are usually viewed by junior levels of management multiple times throughout the day.

They are also commonly found in departments that need to respond to critical information quickly, such as marketing and operations. They help departments stay proactive and ahead of problems. For example, marketing teams can use this type of dashboard to monitor their campaign’s metrics such as cost per acquisition, total number of clicks, total acquisitions gained, and the total amount spent. Any significant changes would immediately alert the team. The operations team of manufacturing firms, on the other hand, may use this to track products manufactured, number of defects, complaints, and returns. They are then alerted right away when performance falls below targets.

Analytical dashboards

When it comes to creating and implementing strong business strategies, understanding the trends and events in your data is crucial. Analytical dashboards use volumes of data collected over time so you could compare current against historic data, enjoy in-depth analysis, identify patterns and opportunities, and determine why processes are working in certain departments. These dashboards present complex data, utilizing complex models and what-if statements, so they are commonly just used by staff with advanced training such as business analysts.

How do I know which dashboard to choose?

To help you choose which dashboard best suits your needs, you can ask yourself the following questions:

#1. What business problems are we trying to solve?

  • Strategic dashboards – Top-line organizational KPIs
  • Operational dashboards – Data awareness and time-sensitive data
  • Analytical dashboards – Trends or deeper insights

#2. Who will be using the dashboards?

  • Strategic dashboards – Executives, directors
  • Operational dashboards – Business managers
  • Analytical dashboards – Business analysts, data analysts

#3. What are our goals?

  • Strategic dashboards – Strategic goals, such as achieving KPI targets
  • Operational dashboards – Employee awareness and tracking against goals
  • Analytical dashboards – Analytic goals, such as visibility into key processes

Dashboards concentrate all data, metrics, and parameters in one place, bringing a totally new dimension to business intelligence. Your company can significantly benefit from the right dashboard. If you’re looking to implement dashboards for the first time or to enhance the functionality of your current dashboard, get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from Source.

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