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Microsoft Office and the Small Business: Excel

Aug 17, 2007
Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet creation and analysis tool that gives you the tools you need to manage critical business data and the power to get the most out of your information. Excel provides you with the tools to easily access, process, analyse, share and display the information you need in running your business. Excel can be used to create timesheets and calculate wages, generate invoices, monitor stocklists and help complete stockchecks, as well as track your business income and expenses.

Creating and working with spreadsheets can be a daunting task. Excel makes creating spreadsheets a simple process even if you have very little experience. Basic features are at the fore to allow you to quickly and easily set up a spreadsheet and perform calculations, with the more complex tools being readily accessible and intuitive in their use.

Excel includes enhanced intelligence that helps to ensure you aren't making mistakes. It instantly exposes potential errors that may affect your work's accuracy. The error checking smart tags alert you to possible errors and offer you options to either resolve the error, ignore it or access further options.

Timesheets and schedules
After some basic Excel training you will be able to put Excel to use in numerous ways within your business. For example, you could use it produce timesheets. By including some simple formulas within the timesheet the number of hours worked each day or week can be calculated and compared with the employee's contracted hours. Using similar techniques shift schedules, holiday planners and absence trackers could also easily be created.

Invoices
You could use Excel to generate your invoices. You can create a template in Excel which includes your company name and logo and automatically generates the date. By using the formulas available in Excel the invoice can automatically complete all calculations of quantity times price, calculate totals and determine the amount of VAT due.

Budgets and forecasts
Following an advanced Excel training course, you will be able to use Excel in the more complex areas of your business, using it to general budgets and forecasts, interrogate your data, monitor cash flow and create financial models.

Accurate forecasting is vital for day to day business operations and long term planning. You must constantly re-evaluate assumptions you have made and assess their impact on your long term financial plans. By using Excel you can conduct financial forecasts whilst responding to changing business conditions. Excel allows you to run several different scenarios and clearly indicate where assumptions have been made. As more information is obtained, these assumptions can be updated and the whole financial model instantly recalculated based on this new data.

Interrogate data using pivot tables
A large number of Excel users are unfamiliar with the Pivot Table, a very powerful feature of Excel. Using pivot tables you can start with a basic data source and quickly and easily sort and sum data independent of the original layout of the spreadsheet. By dragging and dropping column headings around, you can change the way the data is viewed, allowing you to answer all sorts of questions about your data. The options on how the data can be rearranged are almost endless, enabling you to quickly and easily interrogate your data to provide, for example, sales totals for each product, the value of the average sale or the value of sales made by each salesperson.

The above illustrates just some of the many ways in which the use of Microsoft Excel can help you in running and planning your business. It can be useful for very simple tasks like creating timesheets right through to the more complex tasks of your financial planning. It is simple to get started using Excel, and after some basic or more advanced Excel training, the full range of functions will quickly become available to you.
About the Author
Author is a trainer with a Microsoft Office training company, the UK industry leader in its sector. For more information on Excel training, visit http://www.MicrosoftTraining.net.
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