I attended an excellent livestream last week about Excel dashboards, presented by the legendary Chandoo. In his tutorial, he built a KPI dashboard in Excel in around an hour. As well as learning lots of useful tips, it also made me think about the key skills (Excel and otherwise) that you need to build a great dashboard.Continue reading “Creating dashboards in Excel – key skills”
Power Query has been out for over a decade and yet the majority of accountants I meet still seem unaware of what it can do for them.
A possible issue is that it is usually presented in the context of Power BI, and analysing Big Data. And the type of people who like to talk about that also like to talk about other scary things such as VBA and SQL. There aren’t many training resources or articles focussing on Power Query for accountants more generally.Continue reading “Power Query for accountants – enhance your trial balance”
Before I was an Excel trainer, even before I was an accountant, I taught English as a foreign language. Even though the subject matter is quite different, I learned some really useful techniques and principles which I apply to Excel training now.Continue reading “How English language teaching helped me become an Excel trainer”
Excel Tables (capital T) have been part of Excel since the 2007 edition. Given it is now well into adolescence, why is it still common to see spreadsheets holding and calculating data but not using Tables?
A quick internet search will reveal tonnes of articles about why you should use Excel tables.
However, in this post, I thought I would explore this from a different angle, to try to understand people’s reluctance to use this amazingly useful tool.Continue reading “Why aren’t you using Excel Tables?”
I have the visual sense of a blind goat, but over the years I have picked up a number of Excel design tips which I apply to any spreadsheet that someone else has to look at.
This post sets out ten areas which you can look at to make your spreadsheets cleaner and more professional.
I’ve written this post on the assumption that you are reading spreadsheets online, but most of these Excel design tips also work for printed documents.
1. Turn off Gridlines
The first tip is the easiest – turn off gridlines. Gridlines are the lines marking the rows and columns.Continue reading “Excel design tips for non-designers”
I recently set up a management accounts model using Power Query to combine multiple forecasts.
This is for a startup charity, where we need the ability to forecast at a high level over a five year period but to be able to update that quickly based on current decisions. We also need to do a detailed six monthly forecast for cash flow purposes. We also want to approve changes on a quarterly basis. Finally, we want to be able to assess the quality of our forecasting so that we can continue to improve it.Continue reading “Multiple forecasts with Power Query”
Power Query gives you many more tools beyond standard Excel for automating management accounts. This post sets out some points to consider. It is not intended as a step-by-step guide, because one size does not fit all, and the path you take will vary depending on what you want to report and your source data.
However, the key message is that Power Query makes complex and lengthy transformations really easy, and completely repeatable. Whatever you want to do, you can do it better with Power Query.Continue reading “Automating management accounts with Power Query”
How much Excel do you need to know as a Finance Director?
After all, you should be beyond the detail by this point, busy strategising and partnering, not spending all day with your face in a spreadsheet. Right?Continue reading “Excel for Finance Directors”
What do you need to learn to be “good at Excel”? What Excel training should be mandatory for finance teams?
I really rate the ICAEW’s spreadsheet competency framework as a tool to use to diagnose where you and your team are at and where you should be. It breaks down users into four types – Basic, General, Creator and Developer – and allocates the skills that each level should have.
This is much more helpful to me than users saying that they are “intermediate” or “advanced” users. When I recruit for roles I often use the framework in the job description.Continue reading “How to be a good Excel user”
I’m ashamed to admit I’m one of those who initially thought of Power Query as being a toy for hardcore financial modelling, or manipulating enormous data sets within multinational companies.
This may be because these are often the sort of examples provided. It’s very easy as a busy finance professional in a small or medium finance team to assume based on this that there are better things to spend your time on.
It was only after my second attempt at learning Power Query that I truly grasped how revolutionary it could be for all finance professionals and teams. If you use Excel to do anything at all, the chances are Power Query will allow you to do it better. In this article I’ve set out four areas where knowledge of a bit of Power Query could transform your professional life.Continue reading “Why you need Power Query even if you don’t use Big Data”