Pivot Table Fundamentals: What You Need to Know About How Pivot Tables Deliver Value

Most people fear the unknown, and most will tell you they don’t really know much about pivot tables, a particularly useful feature/function of Excel spreadsheets. In this post we begin with the end in mind and discuss how the results delivered in pivot tables provide real value.

One major obstacle to users enjoying the value they seek from pivot tables is created by the delta between those who can design and construct them, and those who cannot build but do with to use them.

No doubt much of the trepidation about creating pivot tables is well-founded. With greater complexity comes greater need for skills. Consistently, users know what they want to extract from pivot tables and how they want to put them to use, but they are daunted by the mere idea of sitting down to create them.

More Automation

Since their very beginning, Microsoft’s entire Office suite has been enabled with a macro programming language useful for automating many repetitive or highly detailed tasks such as specialized document formatting in Word, and sophisticated spreadsheet manipulations in Excel.

Microsoft anticipated that this automation would be highly attractive to users, but most users found it far too difficult to learn, understand, and use macro programming.

Once pivot tables were introduced the idea of macro programming them was even daunting to those who could effectively build them. This created something of a chasm between two distinct groups. One was those fortunate few business executives who could master the building of pivot tables though they weren’t bold enough to try macro programming, and could also use those spreadsheets to perform the kind of financial analyses they needed to accomplish.

This left those who could not or would not learn more about pivot tables pretty much at the mercy of their own devices, unable to enjoy the value of pivoting from perspective to perspective.

Those Who Cannot Code Can be Given Tools

Many tools have emerged over the years to perform those tasks which could formerly be performed only by experts. Given a platform that is “easy to use” it almost naturally follows that there are those who will provide excessive levels of complexity to the use of those platforms.

Tools help to level the playing field between the technologically adept and the tradition level of user.

In the case of pivot tables, one tool foundry that identified a need is MercuryBI whose tools enable the typical spreadsheet user to fully exploit the value of pivot tables that are built for them by their resident experts. It is not uncommon for a line-of-business department to request the assistance of technical teams to help construct sophisticated models, including pivot tables.

Think of MercuryBI’s tool as a container. The constructed pivot table is loaded into it. Connections to all required data sources are also furnished by the tech team. When the user sits down with their new table, they are completely ready to get to work analyzing data and comparing perspectives to gain insight from different views of the data. They do no configuration, no design, no construction. They simply use a platform that presents all available functionality in a simple-to-understand, easy-to-use, comfortable interface.

Bridging the Gap

Having this bridge between the spreadsheet expert and the financial analyst has helped to deliver far more value than ever before from the amazing abilities of pivot tables. Talk to MercuryBI today.


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