What’s an Excel Hero?

An Excel Hero saves money.  Lots of money.
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The vast majority of users are doing some business activity with Excel.  An Excel Hero looks at an activity and sees how to use advanced techniques to save time.  It might be a small formula; it might be an entire project integrated with a database that can eliminate wasted time, possibly in your own job, department or division.
You may even be able to eliminate your position… or your office!  All businesses that succeed are ever mindful of the bottom line and that translates into keeping expenses in check.  In most organizations, labor is the number one cost.  Look for ways to prune and you’ll definitely be a hero.  Believe me, just about every company has wasteful activities done by staff by hand or on computer.  Ironically they’re often done in Excel.  And that’s the crux of this book.  Excel offers so many ways to do things that well-intentioned managers and executives choose simple over better.  Simple to them, that is.
My goal is to post entries that will spark your imagination, so that you’ll be anxious to craft time-saving solutions immediately.  Go ahead.  Money saved today is better than money saved once you become a master.  Keep returning and I promise to keep posting new techniques.  At first you may learn how to shave minutes even hours on a daily task.  Later you may learn how to eliminate the task from your business altogether!  I want this blog to be that valuable.
Just the other day I delivered a project to one of my clients.  They are in the business of modeling subtle and complex trends in historical stock market data, tracking dozens of indicators such as business cycles, credit availability, and sector risk to see what affect myriad variations of these have on selected portfolio returns.  Using Excel, it was taking a minimum of 10 analyst-days of highly compensated analyst time to complete each simulation.  My Excel solution for them completes a simulation in less than five minutes and makes no mistakes.  They run thousands of simulations.  My project eliminated a department.  I’ve done this type of thing many times.  You can too.
When you start saving your company serious time, you’ll be noticed.  You’ll have wonderful choices.   As you read this blog always ask yourself, can I use this to save my company money?
In short order you will be an Excel Hero!

Excel, a Remarkable Tool

What is Excel and what can I do with it?
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Excel is a calculator.  You can add with it.  This is short and true, and misses the point completely.  
Outside of Windows, Excel is the most successful software ever.  Tens of millions of people use it every day as part of their work or at home.  It is used to store information, sort, filter, present, and oh yes, calculate.  It’s used to make shopping lists, budgets, and to design the upcoming manned mission to Mars.  Of the millions of daily users of this amazing product, only a tiny fraction of a percent know how to do more than sum a column of figures.  That’s tragic, when you consider the depth of capability Excel offers to analyze and visualize data and to solve problems.
If you have the ability to understand a problem, this blog is designed to help you judge whether Excel would be a useful tool for solving the problem.  It will illuminate dozens of simple, yet powerful techniques that once understood, will enable you to direct Excel in unexpected ways.  If you have never used Excel before, if you use it every day and wish you knew how to lighten your workload, even if you are an expert, you can be an Excel Hero and this blog will show you the path.
I have been using Excel since the very beginning and Lotus 123 before that.  As a consultant, I have crafted literally thousands of projects, solving problems for businesses large and small using Excel and Access.  This blog will draw from that experience and teach you how to do things that you likely never imagined before.
Most activities with Excel can be classified into three broad groups.  1. IMPORTING information (data) into Excel.  2. Manipulating data for ANALYSIS.  3. Polishing the data for PRESENTATION and reporting.  Some projects focus in just one of these categories; others will require all three. 
As you will discover, any given task in Excel will likely have many different solutions. I once won a formula competition on MrExcel.com’s Challenge of the Month.  There were over 500 unique formulas to solve the contest problem entered by people the world ’round. Over 500 solutions to one problem!  I was honored that MrExcel.com’s readers chose my formula as the best of the bunch.
What I want you to learn is that there may not be a “best” method for doing a task, but some are clearly better than others.  I would say that a method is better if it is interactive, faster, shorter, easier to maintain (because you are the one that will maintain your projects), or simpler, and in that order.
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