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You’re going to wish that your teachers started excel with a pivot table instead of teaching you formulas and filters, some of which can be complex to understand and difficult to put into practice. I guess teachers know that our absolute addressing lab class would be interrupted with , “You should’ve just used a pivot table!”
What are they and what do they do?
Pivot tables are new tables that are created from an existing table that contain custom summary features for your original table’s data.
For example, consider the following data:
|Employee #||Name||Region||Sales Commission For January||# Items Sold|
Figure 1 – Raw data (note that all data was randomly generated.)
You could quickly arrive at a summary view:
This takes about 20 seconds and requires no knowledge of formulas.
The proof is shown in the gif below:
Creating a pivot table from our data
- Copy and paste the data from the table above (Figure 1) into a new excel workbook. The result is shown below:
2. Select all the data that will be used to create your pivot table:
3. Click on the insert tab on the ribbon, and choose Recommended Pivot Tables :
4. Choose a suggested pivot table that you’d like to insert. In this example, we chose the third one. Click “Ok” to insert the table.
5. After Clicking on “Ok” (from step 4), Excel inserts your pivot table on a new sheet. See the result below:
Making sense of your pivot table by manipulating it’s rows, columns and values.
A demonstration of how to manipulate the pivot table in the video below:
Download the finished tutorial from the video here:
Here is a link to the Pivot table tutorials provided by Microsoft office:
A pivot table’s purpose
A pivot table can help you to make strategic decisions based on your operational data. In our example above, we look at some sale information for the month of January (Operational Data) and create a summary (Strategic Data) to make strategic decisions.
Strategic decisions are made by the leaders of your organization (by you if you’re the leader) and affects how you approach your next set of goals.
From our example, we see that the largest commissions are paid to our sales people in the African continent who also sold the most items in January. Using that information, we may want to communicate with our sales force in Africa to determine the causes and try to apply their methods fro success in other regions.
Our assumption becomes, “Our African Sales force seems to be motivated and practice good methods in selling our products. We must investigate if this is true by comparing their methods to other regions.”
From the assumption above, we can now make our first strategic decision:
- Monitor sales in Africa to see if the trend continues
If we find our assumption to be true we can now make the following strategic decisions and plan:
2. Learn the best practices from our African Sales Force
3. Start a training program for our entire company scheduled to run in the month of July .
In class exercise
Describe any other scenario that can result after analyzing the pivot table from our example.
Random name generators for names used in example:
© 2019 Vedesh Kungebeharry. All rights reserved.