I once had to work (as an IT advisor) for a client who was setting up a business on a low budget. Given his small budget, he couldn’t afford to use a specialized software application for every function. In fact, he wasn’t ready to buy anything beyond the basic Microsoft Office suite. I hard to think long and hard on how to help him. That is when it occurred to me that I could perhaps assist him to leverage on the power of Microsoft Excel, to perform multiple functions. In the process, and through further research, I identified ten specific ways in which he could use Excel to perform various functions. Many of those are functions that would otherwise require costly specialized applications. I then helped my client in setting up the templates for the various functions. He was able to get good results, and his business seems to be still doing well.
Based on that experience, I decided to focus on Excel, and its potential business applications, in today’s article. Thus, in today’s article, I will be highlighting some 10 ways in which you can use Excel in your business. By opting to use Excel in these ways, you can get to save money. That is the money you’d otherwise have spent buying specialized applications for the respective functions. Yet Excel performs just as well as the specialized applications. In some cases, it actually performs better.
Without further ado, the 10 ways in which you can use Excel in your business include:
1. Inventory management
You can use Excel to keep track of your stock. This way, you can avoid ending up with too much stock or, conversely, running out of stock altogether. If yours’ is a manufacturing business, you can use Excel to keep track of raw materials. You can also use Excel to keep track of Work in Progress (WIP). Then you can use Excel to keep track of your finished products. If you decide to use Excel for inventory management, you don’t have to start from scratch. There are ready-made templates you can use. You can find such templates online. So you just get a template, customize it, and proceed to use it for inventory management.
2. Preparing employees’ payroll
Excel can help you in preparing employees’ payroll. Through Excel, you can be able to figure out how much money to pay to each of your employees. You just need to enter the numbers of hours worked and the pay rate per hour. Then you can enter any other additional pay (allowances, bonuses and so on), alongside the applicable deductions. Then, by entering the relevant formulas, you can finally arrive at each employee’s paycheck. Again, you don’t have to start from scratch. There are templates you can use in this area as well.
3. Tracking business expenses
It is easy to lose track of business expenses. Excel can help you avoid that. You just need to create an Excel spreadsheet, and dedicate it to Expense tracking. Then you just need to be consistent in entering the expenses into the spreadsheet, as soon as they are incurred. Then you can refer to the spreadsheet, whenever you wish to get any information about the respective expenses.
4. Project management
You can use Excel to ensure that your business projects are completed on time and on budget. Excel has several in-built tools, to help you in project management. Also available online are ready-made Excel project management templates.
5. Cash and bank reconciliations
Often, a business has to reconcile the cash in its possession with what it has in its bank accounts. This is yet another area where Excel can be of help. It is a question of creating a spreadsheet, and dedicating it to cash and bank reconciliations. Then you can have columns for cash receipts, cash payments, bank receipts and bank payments respectively. After that, you enter the correct opening balances and the correct closing balances. Then you enter receipts and payments into the respective columns. You end up with a solid reconciliation. Again, it should be possible for you to get templates online, to help you with cash-bank reconciliations in Excel.
Excel can help you in creating budgets for your business. There are in-built tools, in Excel, to help you with the budgeting function. Also available (online and elsewhere) are templates to help you in budgeting using Excel. Excel can go a step further, and help you keep track of budget implementation. As we all know, budgeting is one thing. Implementing the budget is a different question. Excel can help you with both aspects. The aspect of budgeting. And the aspect of budget implementation.
7. Sales tracking
Excel can help you keep track of your sales. Through Excel, you can create sales projections for the various products. Then excel can help you keep track of how well you are doing, as per the projections you started out with. If you have multiple sales people, you can track their performance through Excel. If you have various product lines, you can track their sales performance through Excel.
8. Preparing business statements
Excel can function as a full-fledged accounting package! You just need to know what data to enter, and what formulas to use in analyzing the data. Subsequently, through Excel, you can be able to create income and loss statements. You can be able to create a balance sheet through Excel. You can go further, and create cash flow statements through excel. Excel makes it possible for you to create those and pretty much all other types of business statements.
9. Marketing management
Excel can help you with all aspects of marketing management. Excel can actually be made to function as a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system! You just need to know the right data to enter, and format to enter it. There are Excel CRM templates you can access online. You can download such templates and deploy them, in order to get Excel to function as a CRM system.
10. Business forecasting
Excel can help you in modeling, alongside other aspects of business forecasting. It comes with lots of in-built tools to help you in this area. You just need to know how to access the forecasting/modeling tools in Excel, and how to use them. Using Excel this way, you may be able to save lots of money you’d otherwise have spent on statistical analysis software.