Excel training for auditors

I recently designed and delivered some Excel training for auditors. Specifically, it was Excel training for audit trainees who had just started at the firm.

I benefitted enormously at the start of my career when my employer arranged for all new audit trainees to have Excel training as part of our induction. Even though it was pretty basic, it established a good grounding in things like formula construction, absolute and relative cell references, and a few shortcuts.

Continue reading “Excel training for auditors”

Why does my pivot table default to Count?

If your pivot table defaults to Count instead of Sum, then you have inconsistent numerical data.

I found this out on a webinar about five years ago, and it still seems to be a mostly unknown feature.

And yes, I call it a feature, not a bug, because it is ultimately helping you.

A pivot table showing a Sum of Amounts column.
Pivot table showing a Sum of Amounts column. If this defaults to Count, watch out!

What it is doing is giving you an immediate message that your numerical data has gaps, or perhaps has numbers formatted as text, or other errors. If you ignore this, you might produce inaccurate analysis.

So – if your pivot table defaults to Count, don’t do what I used to do, which was to tut and manually change it to Sum.

Investigate your data carefully until you’ve found the inconsistencies and then try it again until it defaults to Sum. Here’s a link to some suggestions for converting text to numbers.

I love training finance teams in Excel and Power Query – have a look here at what I can do for you.

Five things I learned at the Global Excel Summit 2022

How to change the layout of your pivot table – one of many things I learned at the Global Excel Summit

Last week I “went” to the Global Excel Summit. This is a three day event featuring many of the superstars of Excel, eg Leila Gharani, Chandoo, Wyn Hopkins, Oz du Soleil etc etc. It was virtual this year, but as I’d never been before I didn’t know what to expect anyway.

I learned way more than five things, of course, but here are my biggest takeaways.

Continue reading “Five things I learned at the Global Excel Summit 2022”

The five most useful new Excel functions for finance teams

Table showing new Excel function FILTER

This post sets out the five most useful new Excel functions for finance teams, based on my experience. By “new” I mean available in 2019 or later versions of Excel (including Office 365).

Many of us are self-taught in Excel, and it can be hard to keep up with the changes. In the past few years there have been loads of new Excel functions that replace and add to existing ones that you might be familiar with.

Continue reading “The five most useful new Excel functions for finance teams”

Why aren’t you using Excel Tables?

Cells A2 – F8 show an Excel Table. The data in rows 10-12 is in a tabular format but is not a Table.

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.

Here is a really good one, for example.

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?”

Excel design tips for non-designers

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.

With gridlines
Continue reading “Excel design tips for non-designers”

How to be a good Excel user

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”