Avoid Using Excel Spreadsheets To Communicate Data In Your Organisation


Data and Microsoft Excel spreadsheets go hand in hand. Certainly, data analysts have a love affair with Excel, but other people in their organisations may not be so keen on it. While spreadsheets are useful for documenting data on business performance, they may alienate a number of employees from knowing what's going on within their companies. Here's why this matter.

Not everybody has an affinity for Excel documents like data junkies. Excel is a powerful tool for people who know how to use it to its full potential but for most workers in an organisation, it's likely that they only have a rudimentary understanding of spreadsheets. Many people groan at the sight of spreadsheet attachments landing in their inbox, which is a big deal if their organisations use Excel documents as a primary way of informing employees about business performance.

You want to engage employees and be transparent about how the company is doing but spreadsheets may have the opposite effect, according to Bernard Marr, a leading business and data consultant.

In a blog post on LinkedIn Pulse, he explains that spreadsheets are bad at helping employees visualise data in an effective way because most people don't like them so they avoid interacting with them, it's difficult to interpret the raw data on display so it's hard for people to see how the information impacts their jobs and the volume of data can be confusing.

Marr recommended using data visualisation tools like Tableau, Qlik, Google's Data Studio and Microsoft's Power BI for organisations to communicate internal data better to employees.

He noted:

"To my way of thinking, this is the way all businesses will proceed as they begin to understand not only the importance of the data, but the importance of communicating the insights within it clearly to everyone in their organisation."

You can read more about this over at LinkedIn Pulse.

[Via LinkedIn Pulse]


    Or they could, you know, use Excel's perfectly adequate native visualisation tools rather then shell out for a new piece of software, which essentially requires a new learning curve, and moderately makes things prettier?

    And I am a fan of tableau - even have a certificate that shows I'm accredited and everything!

    If they have the money to invest, multi-dimensional data sources, and need to crunch a megaload of data to tell a good story, then sure - spend away.

    Agreed that sending out raw data is counter-productive, and even detrimental.

      This is an excellent point; I would add that in the last 3 releases of Excel, it's gotten progressively better at visualising data. Perhaps the best advice is to move the giant, impenetrable data table to a different tab, and summarise the data with good graphs and nice formatting on the first tab.


          Whilst I do love excel and tableau, and agree that excel's visualisations are getting better, they aren't the best nor are they as aesthetically pleasing as tableau. Don't forget dashboards - easier in Tableau and interactivity is more userfriendly. For board-level reports where you want more flexibility, a visualisation tool like tableau qlik is the way to go in my opinion. One thing lacking from tableau, though, are spider/radar charts.

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