Make Sense of Your Data with Pivot Tables

Article by Jason Clause on August 11, 2010
Jason Clause
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I’ve used Microsoft Excel for years as a way to analyze a sales pipeline or as a way to clean up customer lists. I’ve even used many of the rudimentary functions and calculation tools to help me total the cost of a marketing budget or to calculate percentages. But that has really been the extent of my use of this tool.

I don’t think I’m alone in this. In fact, I’d bet that most of us only use a small percentage of the features and capabilities available in this tool. But as Endsight has grown, it has become more and more important for us to analyze our business data and use that analysis to help us make good business decisions based on what we know instead of what we feel.

For example, as a sales and marketing professional, it’s important for me to know where our best new business leads are coming from. On the surface that seems like a pretty simple question, but the answer requires a detailed analysis of Endsight’s historical sales and marketing data. My traditional methods for sorting and filtering data were inadequate and so I set out to learn some of the more advanced features available in Microsoft Excel. The feature that really helped me with my specific issue was pivot tables.

Pivot tables allow me to organize long lists of incomprehensible data into a concise dashboard view. It took me a few hours to learn how to create a pivot table, but once I got it down I’m certain it literally saved me days of work.

I found a YouTube video that was really helpful in teaching me to create pivot tables.

If you have a difficult question that you need to answer and you suspect some key insight to the question might reside in your historical business data, a pivot table could be useful in helping you smoke the answer out. If you feel like you might benefit from a more intensive training in Microsoft Excel it might make sense to consider signing up for a training class.

Endsight does some simple end-user training but it does not do intensive, classroom-based training for advanced users. We do however work with some great partners that can provide that service. If you’d like an introduction, reach out.

Tags: IT support

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