Chances are, if you work in an environment that uses computers every day, you have spent some hours working in Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets.
These initial versions of spreadsheet software have been around since the mid-’80s and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. They provide simple ways to edit and analyze information and can be used by specialists in almost any workforce.
They cater to apparent industries such as accountants and business managers through to bookkeepers, doctor’s offices, and sports analysts — the list could go on forever.
Google Sheets is the newer of the two big players in the spreadsheet game, and as a result, can be a little feared — even by experienced Excel users.
The fact is, this powerful program is surprisingly easy to use, and once you’re familiar with the formulas, you can get so much done with blazing efficiency, no matter what line of work you’re in.
Mastering The Basics
Whether you’re familiar with spreadsheets or not, mastering the basic formulas in Google Sheets will be the first step to becoming a power user.
If you have used Excel before (even just in high school), you should be comfortable using functions such as SUM, AVERAGE, ADD, MIN, MAX, MINUS, etc. If not, don’t beat yourself up.
Most of these simple functions are as simple to use as typing =”FUNCTIONNAME” then highlighting the data you want it to use to make its calculations, like so:
Even simple functions such as these will save you a ton of time compared to manually working on each task with a calculator. The time saved is especially noticeable on more extensive spreadsheets with substantial data sets or multiple calculations to be made.
If understanding the basics can tremendously improve the efficiency of your workplace, imagine the implications of mastering the more powerful functions available in Google Sheets!
3 Functions To Help You Become A Power User
There are entire websites and courses dedicated to becoming a proficient Google Sheets user. The program is quite versatile and can be complex when you complete a deep dive into everything it can do. So, these courses and websites could come in handy.
However, you shouldn’t let the initial effort involved with learning complex spreadsheet functions scare you off from becoming a competent user. The time you spend at the start will be paid back a hundred (or a thousand) fold over the lifetime of your business.
We can’t cover every helpful function in a single blog post. But, we can take a look at some of the more commonly used complex functions that will help scale your business in the right direction.
The VLOOKUP Function
VLOOKUP stands for vertical lookup. You may have guessed that this function searches data in columns (vertical fields).
On the surface, this function helps users to be able to identify data in a spreadsheet that meets the criteria they’re looking for. Some examples of how this could be useful in business are:
- Identifying and finding receipts based on spending or docket numbers
- Finding products based on item numbers
- Identifying sales figures for individual products or groups of products
- Importing data from other sheets
Taking data from other sheets and using it in a new one is perhaps the best feature of the VLOOKUP formula. You can save so much time by not moving an entire data set to a new document as you can just bridge the useful data with VLOOKUP.
IF functions are great for returning simple results in your spreadsheets, such as computing fail or pass scores for safety courses. IF a score is below a certain number, then the function will show a “fail” result; otherwise, it will show “pass”. The same idea can be applied to yes/no, true/false, etc.
IF functions are a great way to keep track of your staff, inventory, tax commitments, and commissions.
For example, a business may only pay tax on certain assets if they have a value above a certain threshold. The IF function can easily show which values entered into the spreadsheet exceed that threshold.
More complex IF functions can be used to make sure a string of values are all met. If needed, they could also return a numeric value such as with the SUMIF function.
Do you have vast sets of data that make it almost impossible to view all at once? That’s where a pivot table can help.
Imagine a pivot table as a summary of your more extensive data set.
At their core, most spreadsheets accumulate a data set on an x and y-axis — columns and rows.
A pivot table adds a third dimension (pivot) to a spreadsheet through aggregating data.
Say you have four stores and a spreadsheet that has sales from every store for a whole year on one sheet. It makes it difficult to nail down sales by date or store alone, so you could use a pivot table to collect the data from any of these parameters and place them in a much smaller table.
Where To From Here?If you can see how these functions can positively influence your business’s exploits, the next step is to learn how to use the formulas. Keep in mind, these aren’t the only valuable functions in Google Sheets. Taking a course or exploring a site dedicated to the program could help your company immensely.