I am interested in learning how small businesses use data and tools like Excel

Discussion in 'Ecommerce Forum' started by akudha, Jul 7, 2019.

  1. akudha

    akudha UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    1 0
    A client of mine asked me to do some basic data analysis and gave me a rather unorganized, large Excel file. I had to clean up the data which took much more time than actually answering his questions from the data.

    This got me thinking - there must be other people who have the same problem, correct? So my question to business owners is:

    What do you use Excel for?

    What kind of data analysis (even super basic) do you do, if any? Is it automated? Do you use any tools other than Excel?
    Posted: Jul 7, 2019 By: akudha Member since: Jul 7, 2019
  2. Scalloway

    Scalloway UKBF Legend Free Member

    15,224 3,222
    As an accountant Excel has been my software of choice for more years than I can remember. Starting with Supercalc I have developed a spreadsheet that allows me to create a set of accounts for input into a tax return.
    Posted: Jul 8, 2019 By: Scalloway Member since: Jun 6, 2010
  3. Ian J

    Ian J Factoring Specialist Full Member - Verified Business

    5,354 1,534
    You're showing your age with that reference to Supercalc :D

    I also use Excel for all my accounting needs
    Posted: Jul 8, 2019 By: Ian J Member since: Nov 6, 2004
  4. AllUpHere

    AllUpHere UKBF Ace Free Member

    3,047 1,096
    I keep a very simple spreadsheet on my laptop to keep track of my Vat position. I just stick money in and money out in the relevant boxes and it tells me how much I should have in my VAT account.
    Posted: Jul 8, 2019 By: AllUpHere Member since: Jun 30, 2014
  5. antropy

    antropy OpenCart Experts Full Member - Verified Business

    3,418 585
    Excel does the job well so as the saying goes 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'. Alex
    Posted: Jul 8, 2019 By: antropy Member since: Aug 2, 2010
  6. Mr D

    Mr D UKBF Legend Free Member

    16,782 1,874
    I use excel for stock details, including profit for the price set.
    Posted: Jul 8, 2019 By: Mr D Member since: Feb 12, 2017
  7. AstEver

    AstEver UKBF Contributor Free Member

    57 6
    Now and in the past:
    - All kind of reporting whenever an internal system could not produce a desired report,
    - monitoring, projecting and planning stock levels and replenishments based on forecasts,
    - templates, calculations, dashboards, etc. as a substitute to what an internal system did not offer;
    - creating customer insights,
    - as a substitute for Microsoft Word.
    Posted: Jul 8, 2019 By: AstEver Member since: Jan 10, 2019
  8. TheoNe

    TheoNe UKBF Regular Full Member

    135 14
    As a small business owner, I primarily use Excel for my accounting activities. I have found the program to be agile and quite user-friendly. It has enabled me to generate detailed reports, track vendors, assists me with my preparation of tax and gives me a quick snapshot of current finances - all at the push of a button.

    I used 'Scoro' previously. It did assist me with producing invoices and tracking my bills and expenses, but I no longer use it. Even though it is a fantastic piece of software, I eventually gravitated back to Excel as my preferred option!

    I hope this helps.
    Posted: Jul 8, 2019 By: TheoNe Member since: Jul 6, 2019
  9. Financial-Modeller

    Financial-Modeller UKBF Regular Full Member

    399 112
    Welcome to my world @akudha !

    The most important aspect of the type of assignment that you have described is being able to understand the value to the client that lies within the data and being able to communicate the analysis to the client in the way that they want it communicated.

    This can sometimes comprise a quick look at the data, and agreeing with the client that analysis of it will or will not solve a problem / save them £x / increase market share or similar, and agreeing that it will take a certain amount of time to do so, which is or is not a suitable investment in the analyst's time.

    In more complicated situations, clients will spend several months and several millions of pounds for a team of analysts to agree the objectives of the exercise and the specification for the model that will be used to analyse the data.

    Despite the recent proliferation of data analysis tools, many clients prefer analysis and modelling to be done in Excel (sometimes with VBA, sometimes not) because it is easily handed over to staff (familiar with MS Office - without purchasing additional licenses or subscriptions) who can be relatively quickly upskilled to use it, as part of the handover process.

    Python is an excellent programming language for data analysis, but can be harder to handover without an in-house developer, whilst anyone can email a spreadsheet to a colleague and copy charts into slide decks etc.

    Three years ago, I assessed Google Sheets for a client as an alternative to Excel, and whilst it wasn't quite ready at that stage, there will definitely be a point (maybe already) where it becomes a more useful application for most small businesses.
    Posted: Jul 9, 2019 By: Financial-Modeller Member since: Jul 3, 2012
  10. ffox

    ffox UKBF Regular Free Member

    1,261 219
    Sadly, you're looking at the wrong tools. Excel is excellent, for what it can do. As is Google sheets. The problem lies in the fact that for either to be a complete solution the whole of the process needs to be loaded into the PC memory space.

    That is to say that a spreadsheet formula or VBA solution needs to be loaded into the memory space of the computer before processing can begin. This is okay with small solutions, but the larger the data set, the larger the spreadsheet file and eventually you get to a situation where it takes forever to load and even longer to execute.

    Third gen language solutions and database solutions are very much better in this respect, taking the data a section at a time and processing it before moving to the next chunk of data. The issue here is that the build and maintenance of such solutions is generally beyond the average user.

    The move now is towards user friendly cloud based solutions that will deliver the best of both worlds.

    A SharePoint list in Office 365 delivers an interface that is as simple to use as a spreadsheet, but has the capacity of 32 million records. Fields can, as in a spreadsheet be calculated to deliver the sum of other fields, or a portion of another field. Data transformation becomes a simple task, as in a spreadsheet. In addition to this. where a spreadsheet is locked when opened by one user, a SharePoint list is always multi user.

    Using SharePoint lists, alongside PowerApps and MS Flow delivers complete solutions for almost any processing scenario that can be imagined, and while a good work flow consciousness is required, there is no requirement for any IT knowledge at all. It's all point, select and click.
    Posted: Jul 9, 2019 By: ffox Member since: Mar 11, 2004
  11. WaveJumper

    WaveJumper UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

    564 100
    Worrying life before Excel seems a long distant memory. I use it from everything to accounting, data collection, used continually throughout the day when monitoring my on line trading. In my previous life in commercial property management I am not sure we could have functioned without it. This thread has made me realize how much I rely on it, brilliant bit of software.
    Posted: Jul 9, 2019 By: WaveJumper Member since: Aug 26, 2013
  12. Financial-Modeller

    Financial-Modeller UKBF Regular Full Member

    399 112
    @ffox Good points. Whilst a database will almost always be a better way to store data than an Excel workbook, using Excel to manipulate extracted data, advances in speed and memory mean that Excel can handle a reasonable amount of data without obvious lag in a practical working environment, which I think was where the OP was coming from IYSWIM.

    @WaveJumper Agreed, and I find it amazing when users are reluctant to pay for Excel given the value it provides.
    Posted: Jul 10, 2019 By: Financial-Modeller Member since: Jul 3, 2012