As you collect large amounts of data, it is of little use if it is scattered in different places. Your brain is designed to process data in a coherent order. That data is hard to understand when it is not logically organized in a way that is conducive to your mind. Luckily, you can utilize spreadsheets as an efficient tool to help you logically process and format data that is easily understood. Furthermore, there are several advantages of spreadsheets that enable you to compile, organize, manage, and analyze data.
Regardless of the nature of the data, be it statistical, numerical, or even in text form, spreadsheets allow you to efficiently manipulate data to make it useful and presentable.
Spreadsheets are armed with countless functions to help you extract almost any data-related information. Additionally, they provide you the ability to use simple functions to process data in complex ways. This is an important feature that allows individuals without much technical experience to utilize all the features offered by spreadsheets.
Spreadsheets are not only useful for inputting, tracking, storing, and analyzing data. But they are also a tool used greatly for forecasting and modeling information.
In this article, we will review the five most prominent advantages of spreadsheets. Keep reading to learn more.
1. Spreadsheets Improve Data Organization
Every kind of data requires some type of organization in order to be viewed in logical terms by the human mind. One of the advantages of spreadsheets is that they provide an efficient way to accomplish this.
Data tends to break down into relevant pieces.
For example, you may be tracking the revenue brought in by a particular client on a specific day. You can title certain columns (left to right) on a spreadsheet with clients, while the rows (top to bottom) on the left could list the dates.
The cells in the middle that corresponds to a client and a date will show the amount of revenue brought in by a particular client that day.
If the number of days spans more than what your screen display allows, you can keep adding rows on the spreadsheet vertically. Additionally, you can continue to add more columns as the number of clients you have increases.
Furthermore, you may still want to see the date and clients on the screen, no matter how far you scroll to right or down. Another one of the advantages of spreadsheets is that they allow you to pin any of the columns or rows that you do not want scrolling out of view. It is a helpful feature to always have the column and row headers visible on the screen.
When you have a lot of consistent data coming in, spanning months, or even years, that might take a lot of scrolling to get to a specific piece of data. Spreadsheets make this much easier by allowing any document to have multiple tabs.
Each tab is essentially one of many pages, all belong to the same spreadsheet. This feature further increases the data organization in spreadsheets, enabling you to grab any data you require quickly.
2. Easing Collaborative Data Collection
In many cases, the spreadsheet data likely originates from one source. However, multiple contributors are actively editing or adding additional data. Another one of the advantages of spreadsheets is that access can be permitted to multiple users or a single user depending on the scenario.
A fair question of data integrity could come up in these situations. Realistically, if multiple users are allowed to edit the spreadsheet at the same time, one user could accidentally or purposefully overwrite changes made by another user.
If there is no lockdown of edited data, then it can easily be overwritten by a subsequent user edit. Different spreadsheets deal with it in their own ways.
For instance, Microsoft Excel allows for the sharing of spreadsheets, but only one user can edit the spreadsheet at a time. It should be noted that local copies can be stored and edited by each user. If those users are then not aware of each others’ data changes, then someone could potentially be working with old data.
Google Sheets offers another type of solution in this regard. They allow multiple users to edit a centralized spreadsheet at once but cells that are actively being edited by one user are locked.
If another user later overwrites an edit, it can be easily reverted back to the original version. This is made possible by the change-log embedded in Google Sheets. The change-log tracks and highlights the edits each user has completed.
3. Spreadsheets Enable Dynamic Calculations With Built-In Formulas
Where spreadsheets are real game-changers is in the area of streamlining calculations. This is one of the main advantages of spreadsheets.
It is not an efficient use of time to perform repetitive calculations for individual cells. If the cells are performing the same function within a particular row or column, the relevant cells can be given an attribute that will dynamically evaluate the values required.
Each cell allows for a near-endless variety of formulas to be utilized. One formula can be seen by summing up the totals in the revenue example above.
The formula in the spreadsheet dynamically evaluates the sum for each day or each company. No need to go back and recalculate. If a specific revenue is updated in one cell, the total will update automatically.
Similarly, if a value already used in the calculation is altered, the total cell will reflect the adjusted amount based on the newly edited cell value. This way, you only worry about inputting and upkeeping the data. The formulas you have designated do the calculations for you.
Even if a row is composed of calculated values and every cell is defined with a totally different formula. The total calculation will continue to adjust based on the dynamically changing values of those cells.
4. Spreadsheets Are Equipped With Preset Functions
Spreadsheets are also equipped with hundreds of preset functions. These functions allow you to easily narrow down or filter your data.
For example, if you had a column tracking the revenue of a specific company with thousands of lines of data. You could easily find the minimum and maximum in all of the data by using built-in functions.
The =MIN() or =MAX() functions can be utilized in both Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel to return the minimum and maximum values respectively.
While that is a relatively simple example, there are hundreds of built-in formulas to help you easily manipulate, sort, and extract data. If it weren’t for these built-in functions in spreadsheets, it would take a significant amount of time to perform manual calculations.
There are many other more complex built-in functions that are useful for specific applications. Such as for math and trigonometry, finances, computer logic, look up and reference, engineering, date and time, and statistical analysis, to name a few.
The preset functions help you do all the heavy lifting so you can more easily find the results you are looking for and be able to use that information accordingly.
5. Spreadsheets Provide Functionality For Graphing And Visual Aids
When you look at a lot of numbers, even in an organized spreadsheet, it is often overwhelming to visualize the bigger picture. However, visual aids and graphs often provide a way to display data that is easily understood.
When displaying high-level data for presentations, visual aids are always helpful. One of the advantages of spreadsheets, like Excel and Sheets, is that they come equipped with a wide variety of different graphs and charts. These can be formulated based on the data you provided.
For example, back to the client revenue example above. You can visually see which client holds the largest percentage of the total with a pie chart. As seen below, a pie chart provides an easy to understand visual representation of which client brings in the most revenue over a specific time frame.
If you want to compare revenue for specific days, you can use a bar chart to visualize how each client compared to one another. An example can be seen in the image below.
If you are looking to trend certain data over a period of time, you might find a scatter graph or a line graph to be helpful. This way you can show where data falls on a certain spectrum to help you better analyze the results.
There are many advantages of spreadsheets. In summary, they enable you to utilize the built-in functions to help you compile, sort, visualize, and analyze data. Spreadsheets allow you to manipulate data in a much more efficient and effective way.
After learning the several advantages of spreadsheets, you should consider utilizing one the next time you are dealing with large amounts of data. The benefits of spreadsheets are a significant contributor to the accuracy and productivity of any business.
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