Welcome to the final-humpless-hump-day before the end of tax season. In today’s edition, an analyst and prospective CMA wants to know how to best improve his spreadsheet skills to the point where they’ll jump out of the screen a do a little jig. Aside from reading the Excel manual, how does one go about this?
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Back to our wannabe spreadsheet sage:
Hi Going Concern,
I read your small firm accountant blog post with interest and just had to write in. The post states, “…and if you work at a firm where three years are required for promotion, you’ll really become a junior spreadsheet rockstar.”
In short, how do you recommend becoming a spreadsheet rockstar? My Excel skills are satisfactory but I certainly see room for improvement when it comes to analyzing data faster and presenting it better. What do you recommend in terms of specific exercises, resources, books etc?
About me: I’m an analyst (on the slow path to becoming a certified management accountant) at a large bank with around 40,000 staff in total and I’ve been here just over six months. It is my first full time role out of university.
Aspiring Spreadsheet Rockstar
So you want to be a David Lee Roth of Microsoft Excel? As a young number cruncher this is a worthy goal. This question will not make for good happy hour convos so you’ve come to the right place; we’ll get you going in the right direction.
The first resource you have at your disposal are the Excel wizards at your workplace. You’ve probably noticed who the savvy spreadsheet users are, so ask them if they wouldn’t mind walking you through pivot tables, vlookups, whatever. The trick is to figure out who actually takes pride (yes, they’re out there) in their spreadsheet skills and to ask them for a little bit of their time to show you the ropes…er, cells. More than likely they’ll be thrilled to show off their skills and bestow wisdom on a newbie. If they balk, just start rumors around the office about how they smell like mens locker room.
If asking a fellow working stiff isn’t an option, then it might be worth your time to see if your internal training curriculum offers advanced Excel courses. An employer of your size may have some decent options but if they don’t, look around for some external classes and submit the cost for reimbursement. I’d be surprised if an employer such as yours wouldn’t be willing to spring for a little self-spreadsheet improvement.
If you’re more of a self-study type, jump over to our British sister from another mister site, AccountingWEB UK, and check out all the tips they have to offer. That’ll keep you busy for awhile.
One other thing you can practice and learn on your own is using key shortcuts. This will allow you to cruise around Excel quicker and it will make you more productive. Lifehacker has a few that will get you started but if you’re stumped it’s a simple as asking Google. Rock on.