Must Know Excel Functions for Business Analysis
You may use Excel for basic calculations. But, have you ever taken the time to explore all it has to offer? There are some amazing Excel functions that can help with business analysis. And, it is not only the accounts department that gets to enjoy the benefits of Excel. The marketing team can sort or organize data to identify customer trends. Analyzing sales data is a breeze with the right functions, and so much more. By using the right functions, such as VLookup in Excel to find the data you are looking for, daunting tasks will become easier to deal with. We will share with you our Excel functions list for business analysis in this article. Once you master the functions in this Excel functions list, your job will become easier.
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If you have just stumbled on it, you may be wondering, what is Vlookup in Excel? Well, Vertical Lookup or VLookup allows users to search for specific values within columns. You may also find reference to Horizontal Lookup (HLookup) which looks for values in rows.
But that’s not all you can achieve with VLookup in Excel. It also helps with combining data from two different spreadsheets into one.
To use VLookup in Excel, you need to get comfortable with some things. These are:-
- Lookup_value is the value you are looking for in the sheets
- Table_array is the column you need to find the value
- Col_index_num is the range with the value to return
- Range_lookup gives an exact or approximate return
The formula is VLOOKUP (lookup_value, table_array, col_index_num, [range_lookup])
At this point, you may be thinking this is difficult. But, hang in there for a minute, you will see how simple it is. Let’s use the example of finding a second name in a spreadsheet with numerous columns of data. It would look something like this.
You want to look up Teresa’s second name.
- Lookup value would be B6
- Table array = anything from B2 to E6
- Col_index_num = column 3 which contains second names
- Range_lookup = FALSE (for exact match or TRUE for approximate match)
So, your formula would be =VLookup (B6; B2:B5; 3; False).
Once you grasp the basic concept, VLookup in Excel is quite easy to use.
2. Sorting and Filtering Data
Working with large amounts of data can be a daunting task. Sorting and filtering can take days and cause untold stress. But, there is a simple way to do it in Excel.
The sort and filter functions are your handy assistants. Using the function is quite simple.
- Select the column containing the data you need to sort
- Click on the home tab
- Go to editing group
- Press the sort and filter button. You will get options for selecting how the tool should sort or filter the data.
Handy shortcuts are ALT + H + S for sorting, and ALT + H + S +F for filtering.
Let’s say you have a spreadsheet containing columns with different data. Take the example of the one we have shared above when explaining VLookup. One column contains first names, the other one contains the second. name. But you may find it more convenient to have both names in just one column.
Instead of copying and pasting the information, you can use CONCATENATE. The function is very handy when managing numbers, dates, or text. The formula is = Concatenate (cells you want to combine).
4. Text to Column Function
There are instances when you will need to get specific information from the data you have. Let’s say getting the name of an individual from an email address. You may also want to separate first and second names for inputting into different columns.
One option is to go about it the old-fashioned way. We are talking about cutting, copying, or typing out the information. The other quicker way is to use the text to column function. Here is how to go about using this nifty functionality in Excel.
- Determine the column you want to split then highlight it
- Next, go to Data > text to column > fixed width or delimited.
It helps to know what delimited or fixed-width means. Delimited means using tabs, commas, or spaces to break up the column. The @ in an email address would be an example of a delimiter. Fixed width allows you to determine where you want the split to be. Excel makes it easier by giving you previews of what the columns will look like after the split.
5. Pivot Tables and Charts
Analyzing patterns and trends is critical for running a successful company. Data analysts can use pivot tables and pivot charts to analyze, explore, and summarize data in business analysis.
The charts are especially useful for the visual presentation of the reports. It is easier to digest information that has visual cues than text alone.
You will find the pivot table under the insert tab. You don’t need to manually populate the table. Simply select the data you want in the table and Excel will do it for you. And, you can decide to insert the table in the current worksheet or a new one.
6. COUNTA and COUNTBLANK
Imagine you are making a presentation to a room full of executives. To your horror, you see missing values in your data. It will be a sign that whatever information you are giving could be erroneous. You can prevent such a scenario from occurring with the COUNTA and COUNTBLANK functions.
COUNTA will let you know the number of cells that are not blank. It will count cells containing different data values including error values, dates, time, and empty text strings.
COUNTBLANK allows you to count or identify any blank cells within a given range. Identifying such information is critical in data analysis. It allows for the correction of errors or omissions thus more reliable results.
COUNTBLANK will not count any cells containing errors, text, or numbers including zero. It will, however, consider those with empty text strings as blank.
7. COUNTIF and SUMIF Excel Functions
Let’s say you want to know the number of times you have used a specific word or number within a given range. The COUNTIF function is all you need. Determine the range, which could be one or more columns. You will also need the criteria, which is what you want to look for.
For text results, you must include quotation marks. Let’s say you are searching for the word trend in the data in column B only. The formula would be =COUNTIF (B: B,”Trend”)
SUMIF extends the COUNTIF functionality a little more. While COUNTIF counts specific data, SUMIF adds it up. Let’s say you want to sum up values that exceed 10 in column D of say 30 rows. Your formula would be =SUMIF (D2:B30,”>10).
Final Thoughts on Excel Functions
Excel continues to be one of the most popular Microsoft Office packages. True, an initial interaction can have you running a little scared. The formulas need a little getting used to. But, once you master the functions in this Excel functions list, you will never look back. Another reason for Excel’s popularity is it provides tons of functionalities. It does not matter if you are using it as an individual or at a business level.
We have looked at some functions in this Excel functions list that can make business analysis and tasks like data management so much easier. These include VLookup, COUNTIF, SUMIF, pivot tables, and more. But, take the time to explore Excel a little more. There are so many other tools we have not touched.
So, what do all these mean for the business? Well, teams can organize, analyze and present reports faster and more accurately. Users save time that could go into manual handling of some tasks. The tools help increase efficiency, without the company having to invest in expensive software.
Dan has hands-on experience in writing on cybersecurity and digital marketing since 2007. He has been building teams and coaching others to foster innovation and solve real-time problems. Dan also enjoys photography and traveling.