Advanced Excel Topics
Below, we will address some of the top 10 Excel skills needed to break into the data analytics industry — as well as effective ways to learn these skills. The Columbia Engineering Data Analytics Boot Camp curriculum, for instance, can be a great way to hone your Excel skills; the data analytics boot camp covers intermediate Excel topics, which form the foundation for the following advanced Excel skills.
Excel Skill 1: Statistical Modeling
Excel provides a specialized toolkit enabling you to perform statistical modeling inside the popular spreadsheet program. These kinds of diverse applications are exactly why Excel skills remain important in the job market. The advanced Excel formulas involved in producing statistical models and performing advanced data analytics enable you to perform meaningful statistical analysis and produce useful models.
Excel’s statistical modeling functions include tools to create histograms, generate random numbers, find correlations between data sets, measure for rank and percentile, perform regression, and assess sampling. Using Excel to perform statistical modeling can reduce human errors sometimes involved in statistical analysis.
If you have only used Excel for basic budgeting or project management, you may be unaware of the statistical tools that can power up your Excel skills. While some of the advanced Excel tools for statistical modeling are built into the program’s basic functions, others are part of the add-on package for data analysis. Through Excel’s Data tab, you can add in the Analysis ToolPak to gain access to these important functions.
Excel Skill 2: Forecasting and Prediction
If you have historical and time-based data, you can use advanced Excel functions to create forecasts and predictions of future performance. You can create this data at higher and lower confidence levels for different degrees of probability — this can be important for businesses aiming to predict stock trajectories, forecast the growth of their sales efforts, or understand changes in the economy.
Excel’s Data tab has a substantial amount of advanced tools available for users, and Columbia Engineering Data Analytics Boot Camp can help you understand and make use of these more advanced functions. For example, if you’re working with two corresponding data series, you can insert a Forecast Sheet under the Data tab to create line or column charts with the relevant forecast. You can set your own end date for the forecast and choose from a number of options to fine-tune your results, including filling in missing points and assessing for seasonality.
Excel Skill 3: Pivot Tables
Pivot tables are perhaps one of the best-known and more powerful advanced Excel skills, as they can automatically give you quick summaries of the data in a massive Excel spreadsheet by grouping matching data. For example, pivot tables can quickly graph sales data by product, financial performance by investment type, or weight of various items in inventory. These tables, launched from the Tables section of the Insert tab, can be used to count, sort, total, or average data taken from one large spreadsheet.
With pivot tables, you may eliminate the need for individual formulas in producing meaningful data analysis — one of the most important Excel skills for employers because of its versatility and efficiency. After you have mastered these advanced Excel functions, you can create a pivot table in less than a minute, whether you have only a few rows of data or thousands of rows of information. You can create the specific fields to be addressed in the table, remove duplicates, count entries and provide a range of assessments of your data. Excel even includes recommended Pivot Tables keyed to the types of data presented in your spreadsheet.
Excel Skill 4: VBA and Macros
Visual Basic for Applications in Office (VBA) is a powerful, simple programming language created by Microsoft to extend and automate the capabilities of Excel and other Office software. VBA can be used to automate any function that you can perform in Excel and enables you to save the resulting code as a macro to be used repeatedly, which can dramatically ramp up efficiency and output when you have repetitive tasks or need to clean data across a range of spreadsheets.
Creating and applying macros can result in cutting a task down from days to hours, allowing you and your employer to save time. VBA programming allows you to have total control over the macros you produce — not only to automate advanced Excel functions but to create unique dialog boxes and other options for your particular business case.
Excel Skill 5: Model Historic Stock Trends
Excel offers a stock data type created specifically to pull in present and historical stock performance data. By modeling variations of a stock and the instruments based on it, like derivatives, you can receive a representation of the stock’s valuation at present and over time. By using the stock data type, you can bring in existing prices as well as the company name, number of employees, and other key data that can be used to perform stock modeling.
The advanced Excel function STOCKHISTORY provides access to historical data that can be formatted dynamically. By using the stocks data type and pulling in the start and end date (as well as specified properties), Excel users can pull in data over time on a specific exchange, in a certain currency, and with other specifications. This information may produce graphical representations of a particular stock’s history — as well as forecasting and prediction models to assess potential future outcomes.