Excel is widely used for storing and organizing data across numerous business processes. However, repetitive and manual processes in Excel, such as data input, report preparation, and dashboard updates, can be time-consuming. And this is where Excel automation comes into play.
But, what is Excel automation? Now you might have this question in your mind. Don’t worry, this article will give you the answer, and tell you how it can improve your business.
What is Excel Automation?
Excel automation, in short, is using robotic process automation (RPA) technology to automate repetitive processes and workflows within Microsoft Excel. Businesses can use it to automate operations such as data entry, extraction, formatting cells and ranges, running macros, building charts and dashboards, etc.
There are different ways to automate Excel – using macros, Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) coding, or third-party automation tools. Macros allow the recording of a sequence of steps to automate those tasks, while VBA provides more advanced programming capabilities. Both macros and VBA code are stored within the Excel file itself.
On the other hand, RPA tools like UI path, Automation Anywhere, Octoparse RPA, etc. use software robots or ‘bots’ that can interact with the user interface of different applications including Excel. This method offers you more options for integrating Excel with other systems and automating cross-application operations. Compared to manual approaches, the bots replicate human motions to do repetitive, rule-based activities in Excel at considerably better speed, accuracy, and scale.
How Excel Automation Can Transform Your Business
Using Excel to automate dull and repetitive processes may give several benefits to companies across multiple departments and teams. Companies may streamline procedures, drive efficiency, and improve essential business results by employing sophisticated automation solutions.
Save Time and Boost Productivity
One of the most significant advantages is to save valuable employee time. Automation removes time-consuming, manual tasks such as data entry, sheet formatting, macro execution, and dashboard updating, which can definitely free up resources for higher-level strategic tasks. In addition, automation can increase overall team productivity by processing many Excel tasks at the same time.
Ensure Data Accuracy
Automated Excel processes are less prone to human errors like typos, calculation mistakes, or incorrect formatting, which leads to cleaner and error-free data being utilized across the organization. As automation ensures consistency, it prevents discrepancies that can creep in due to repetitive manual work.
Excel automation guarantees tasks adhere to set procedures and best practices. It ensures consistency in areas like data gathering methodologies, report production formats, dashboard styles, and so on. It can contribute to higher-quality outputs, which are vital for compliance and auditing purposes.
Synchronize Cross-System Data
Automation facilitates real-time two-way data synchronization between various interconnected Excel spreadsheets and source systems. Any changes made in one place are reflected simultaneously in linked files/databases. It can keep all data sources in sync to support optimized decision-making.
Boost Reporting Agility
Consistent deployment of standardized reports on a scheduled basis keeps everyone informed. It removes tedious manual generation and distribution tasks. Automation also allows on-demand custom report building for one-off needs or to analyze urgent situations.
Excel automation simplifies integration with other apps and databases. It offers sophisticated analytics by merging insights from inside Excel with external operational data sources and gives you a uniform 360-degree perspective of your company’s success.
Organizations across sectors are revolutionizing their operations through Excel automation at both the individual and organizational levels with these strong benefits. It propels productivity increases that have a significant influence on bottom-line performance.
Automated Data Entry in Excel
One of the most useful use cases of Excel automation is data entry. Manual data entry is time-consuming and error-prone. Organizations may use bots to extract certain data fields from diverse source systems and insert them straight into target Excel sheets.
- Survey responses: Bots can pull each response from form submissions and populate a summary tab in Excel. This delivers immediate insights without the need for laborious collation.
- Customer database: By synchronizing CRM and Excel, sales teams get updated customer profiles from within dashboards. They can focus on engaging prospects instead of chasing stale data.
- Inventory management: Integration between ERP and spreadsheets allows bots to extract shipment details. Procurement executives then have accurate inventory levels in hand for just-in-time reordering.
- Project tracking: Bots fetch task updates and status changes from project management software into a master Excel report. Project leaders gain real-time visibility without manual consolidation.
Automated data entry eliminates repetitive copy-paste errors. It ensures target spreadsheets always reflect the source data in real time. This high level of data accuracy and synchronization streamlines complex reporting and analysis tasks.
Automated Excel Spreadsheet Updates
Excel automation also facilitates the seamless interlinking of multiple connected spreadsheets. For instance, whenever a new item is added to a core catalog in production Excel, bots simultaneously update the corresponding entry in supporting sheets like price lists, inventory sheets, and sales collateral used by departments.
Likewise, any subsequent value changes made to core data in source files instantly propagate through to all related spreadsheets. This avoids manual reconciliation efforts that often lead to discrepancies across versions.
With automated updates sustaining data consistency, visibility, and operational efficiency improve across the enterprise. Resources previously used for administrative chores can now focus on more strategic initiatives to accelerate business growth. Overall, automation transforms Excel workflows from disjointed silos to integrated processes.
Use Cases in Diverse Industries
Let’s take a look at how different industries use Excel automation solutions.
Automated check-in forms ensure patient details are captured accurately at the first point of contact. Bots readily populate forms from digital records. Similarly, insurance claims processed through automation integrate information from multiple sources faster. These streamlines reimbursements.
Appointment scheduling bots automatically reserve slots based on provider availability. They efficiently reschedule as needed. Automating medical billing extracts procedure codes/fees from electronic health records straight into invoicing spreadsheets. This eliminates billing delays.
Inventory management bots continuously update stock levels and reorder points in production spreadsheets as items are consumed or produced. This maintains optimal stocking to avoid under or overstocking.
Production planning bots pull shop-floor data to schedule preventative maintenance and prioritize high-volume products. Automated asset management bots track lifecycles and automatically flag maintenance/replacements.
Automating supply chain analytics synchronizes supplier/vendor details, lead times, and shipping costs across distributed worksheets. This empowers smarter sourcing and logistics planning.
Account reconciliation bots match transactions between bank/credit card statements against account ledgers saved in Excel. They highlight discrepancies for review.
Automating credit analysis extracts customer payment histories from various sources into underwriting spreadsheets. They instantly calculate approval odds. Payroll/bonus calculation bots pull time-tracking records and commission figures to pay out salaries and incentive amounts with minimal effort. Investment portfolio bots trigger preset actions like re-balancing allocations or harvesting gains/losses based on market changes tracked in spreadsheets.
The cases we mentioned above are only a few parts of the industries that can benefit from Excel automation. Across many industries, automating common Excel procedures with bots can also improve labor efficiency, corporate operations, and data-driven decision-making across all sectors.
A combination of RPA and Excel can boost efficiency, improve data management, and finally help organizations facilitate quicker but also wiser decision-making. Meanwhile, employees of the organizations can focus on more challenging and valuable work by automating repetitive, process-oriented activities. For sophisticated data-driven insights, Excel automation also offers the freedom to interact with other line-of-business tools. Try Octoparse RPA today, and enhance your operational efficiency from now on!