Some software is tailored to users’ needs in such a way it becomes a household name. One notable example is Microsoft Excel. It is used worldwide for various purposes including data management, financial analysis, task supervision, and time administration. The list of features Microsoft Excel offers is almost endless. This is why most businesses use it, making skills within the software a basic job requirement. In brief, Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet program consisting of rows and columns forming cells that store data required to perform operations. All these features make organizing information easier. To understand what Microsoft Excel is all about, let’s explore its advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of Excel
Microsoft Excel lets you create different types of charts and tables, allowing you to represent data in visual form. The direct benefit of visual representation is that you can understand the data set well and make business decisions accordingly. The following are some other perks of using Excel.
The reason people use Excel to organize data is that it offers the feature of sorting and filtering. This means you can sort the data based on numbers, dates, columns, and alphabets. Plus, there are formulas you can use to derive information from raw data. These formulas are simple to apply and can calculate huge sets of data. This is why businesses use it for storing customer details, order processing, and keeping track of activities. Additionally, it has a simple interface, allowing users to perform basic and advanced operations alike.
Users compare Excel to all-in-one software as it offers numerous features. From calculating to managing projects, all can easily be done using Excel. For accounting purposes, it allows planning budgets, tracking expenses, calculating loans, and preparing financial reports. You can easily create worksheets as well, allowing you to materialize your goal. Be it professional or personal goals, using this data organization software lets you monitor the progress and achieve them easily. To sum up, Excel is a comprehensive software allowing businesses to streamline their operations.
You can protect your Excel files using passwords to secure your data. Moreover, Excel offers security features, protecting your files from malicious attacks and mistakes. It can shield your file with different severity — at the file, workbook, and worksheet levels. At the file level, you can encrypt files using the password. That way, every time users want to access one such file, they must enter the password. At the workbook level, it protects them from unauthorized access and unwelcome modifications. Whereas, protecting Excel files at the worksheet level locks cells so that users cannot change critical data.
Microsoft Excel is in use since 1987. Hence, finding Excel courses is unsurprisingly easy. There are a bunch of tutorials available online as well as offline. You can easily learn it online via websites or applications and offline by attending classes at, for instance, public and private schools or institutes. Both free and paid courses are readily available, catering to the needs of different learners. Best of all, these courses cover concepts suitable for all levels, from beginner to advanced. Along with this, courses specialize in teaching real-life applications. Overall, one can acquire Excel skills within a couple of weeks through these classes.
5. Excel is supported in almost any third-party applications
MS Excel has been in use since the early 90s. As such, generations of students and office employees have been using this software. Hence, it is long considered a staple in such applications. Now, Excel enjoyed, and still enjoys, immense popularity. Thus, any platform or application that supports spreadsheets makes an exception to support Excel sheets. Even Google-powered Android or Apple iOS support Excel on their devices. And not only that, even other spreadsheet software makes it a point to support importing and exporting MS Excel sheets into their native formats.
List of services that support Excel
- Google Sheets: Google’s alternative for Excel
- Apple Numbers: The default spreadsheet application on Apple devices
- LibreOffice Calc: A free, open-source Excel alternative mostly used by Linux users
- Zoho Sheet: Online spreadsheet application just like Google Sheets
- Airtable: Another cloud-based spreadsheet solution
- Dropbox Paper: The Dropbox version of spreadsheets
Disadvantages of Excel
If you have worked with Excel at the workplace, you already know how tedious it can get to keep entering data. Even worse, the struggle doesn’t end there, since Excel is prone to human errors. This means most sheets will include mistakes that can remain unnoticed. Businesses choose Excel as it seems like a low-cost investment at first, but these errors can cost companies in the long run. The following are some other downsides of using Excel.
1. Learning curve
Once you are adept at working in Excel, you can get a lot of job opportunities. However, the learning curve to master Excel can be difficult. You will have to invest your time in understanding the basics so that you can move towards advanced features. For example, you must learn to use formulas and create tables and charts. You also need to ensure you are using the correct formula. Otherwise, it can impact the insights gained through data or even render them useless.
If you are working with a small data set, Excel can be the right tool for you. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for large ones. The reason is that as the data set increases, Microsoft Excel tends to slow down and sometimes cause performance lag or freezing. Although there are solutions for dealing with these issues, it can be distracting and frustrating while working on important projects. The larger data set can take more time for processing, and inevitable Excel file corruption can be a nightmare.
Once you start using Microsoft Excel for your business, it grows organically over time. That’s precisely when the issues arise. It starts with simple data storage, eventually leading to the use of macro programming and formulas. Then there are concerns related to speed and stability, which can be difficult to troubleshoot. All these issues can lead to data loss incidents that must be avoided at all costs. A few common problems that users face are data validation and navigation. In data validation, Excel accepts the input entered by the user that might be incorrect records. As for navigation, you must search through sheets to finally find the one for troubleshooting data.
There’s no doubt a vast majority of businesses use Microsoft Excel to conduct everyday operations. However, with the new technologies emerging each day, we are forced to reconsider Excel’s place in the business world. We live in a dynamic world where requirements keep changing constantly. Thus, using Excel for agile projects can be a terrible idea. The reason is that it limits access, which is essential for team collaboration. It also causes delays in the decision-making process. Lastly, the size limitations in Excel can make it unfit for businesses operations.
5. Creating Excel sheets could be time-consuming
When one says data entry, the mind automatically goes to Excel. We know the software to be excellent at handling data. But one should understand that manual data entry is a bothersome task. The longer period of entries due to a lot of data can lead to boredom. And this boredom can cause inattentiveness, which can be costly to business owners. While data entry can be automated to a certain extent, it is mostly manual.