Pricey, custom software programs can manage accounts, draw up diagrams and charts, and analyze the inputs and outputs of a business. Many businesses nowadays use a range of computer-based technologies and data systems, but some systems may require extensive money and training when the tried-and-true Microsoft Excel can be a businessperson’s best friend.

Though understanding everything Excel has to offer may require some training (which can be found as online tutorials on sites like, it is an invaluable tool to help businesses run better and make leaders stronger assets to their companies.

Not only can Excel calculate, organize, and structure data in an intelligible manner but also it provides users with a common platform. Standardized formulas, functions, and even a custom programming language called Visual Basic for Application (VBA) help users save time by utilizing automation on common ground. VBA is understood by all Microsoft applications, which eliminates compatibility issues, and the programming allows users to connect with all types of data sets and objects throughout multiple platforms.

Microsoft Excel skills on your resume can push your application ahead of the rest. The program’s applications are useful across many fields and industries, and Excel skills can separate you from other applicants during interviews — especially in the operations environment.

The Top Ten

Excel is ideal for helping business leaders implement better workflow and end-to-end processes because a lot of business data is already stored in Excel, and most people have a general knowledge of how Excel works.

When extending this basic knowledge, some of the most important Excel capabilities to understand include:

1.     VLOOKUP (Vertical Lookup): Finds information in large data tables with low memory usage.

2.     SUMIF: A combination of the IF and the SUM functions, SUMIF adds all the numbers in a range of cells based on a certain criteria.

3.     FOR, NEXT Loops: (In VBA) Loops through data sets in cells; performs an action on every cell included in a range of data.

4.     Nested IF statements: An IF function within an IF function can be used to drill down to a finite variable and test conditions.

5.     ADO connections: Connect to databases outside of Excel using a connection string; data can be linked to Excel from SQL, Oracle, Access, etc.

6.     LEN: Determines the length of a string.

7.     On Error GoTo: Direct the program to handle errors encountered in VBA in a specific way.

8.     Application.Version: Determines which Excel version you are using in VBA.

9.     Trim: Takes away all spaces on the outside of a string.

10.  FLY: A VBA function that allows the spreadsheet to float around the computer screen.

Some of the capabilities (like Trim and LEN) are fairly uncomplicated. Others (like those nested IF statements) may take a bit more time to understand and use to their full potential. No matter which you attempt, taking the time to learn some basic Excel functions — especially the 10 described above — will make you and your business more productive.

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