Were you ever asked to do a report, an analysis or maybe just to organize some data for your manager?

This should be a simple task of understanding what is requested and then doing it as such….but what if you could do more, maybe more than your managers expect out of you?

*WARNING
When you take this step, be aware that from now on you might find your work less boring and instead more fast paced and dynamic!

I was not a manager yet when I did get the chance to speak with one of the Managing Directors of the company that I worked for, it was just me and another 10 hand-picked analysts from across the company having brunch in the room reserved for private clients. Needless to say, everyone wanted to get his attention, so it was only natural that when the question was asked of him:

“How does one stand out?”.

Instead of a simple answer, he replied with a question of his own:

“If I were to ask you to do a budget analysis, how would you make yours stand out?”.

Answers ranging from “I would do it quicker” or “I would find opportunity to save money” or “I would create an indicator to monitor this or that”, were all around the table, but for him none was satisfactory.

He finally said:
“If you came to me saying that you found the opportunity and already have arranged a way for the saving to happen and just wanted to notify me or ask for my permission, that would have impressed me – but to stand out, you would have had to have done that before I even asked you to analyse the budget”.

Of course, that approach is not for everyone, nor is it for every company as we are restricted to the cultural and organizational dilemmas of what we should or should not do as part of our roles in the company, but the idea is to not limit ourselves to the request but to try to picture the need behind it.
If someone asks you to analyse a budget, then probably their aim is to find a saving opportunity – if you don’t want to have to guess this, then try asking not only what you have to do but why this exercise is being done.

So why is Excel crucial for this?

It is not. At the end of the day it all comes down to your interpretation of the problem and your imagination of how to show your eagerness to deliver more.
What Excel can do is to assist you with your result and make it as clear for your managers as it is in your imagination.

  • Is your deliverable a table? Make it dynamic by adding conditional formatting.
  • Need a project timeline? Use formulas to project the new end date if any delays happen.
  • Is it a study that needs to be done daily? Connect directly with the source file or automate the data update.
  • Need a graph? Turn them into a filtered dashboard and show your own analysis beforehand.

Excel is just a tool, not more important than your mind, but it is one of the most useful tools as it is in the same language that your managers understand. It is simple and it will let your ability shine through.

If you want to see some of these concepts applied in action, join us on our:
DIPLOMA IN EXCEL – ADVANCED” every Wednesday for 10 weeks starting this February 8th where we will meet and learn more about how to use this application to leverage our deliverables and become a stepping stone to enhance our career.

Wune Li
Lecturer in Excel Advanced