24 Oct Five new ways to create Excel automations
Excel automation can save you time and make you more efficient. Know the five best tools you can use to automate your business.
Excel is one of the world’s most-used business applications in the world. It has been around since 1985, and it is estimated that 1.2 billion people use the application daily.
However, Excel is designed to be a stand-alone business system. That makes it difficult to integrate Excel content into your business flows or databases.
So you often end up copy-pasting data from excel into the recipient systems. Such operations take time, can result in errors, and will be a buttle neck in how your business is run.
But it does not have to be this way. There are modern alternatives on the market today that can help you automate the way you work and manage your Excel data.
We have selected the five best here. They have a different take on how to solve the automation problem.
Excel 1.0 screendump from 1985
Your Excel automation focus
Five levels of Excel automation
We have selected five different excel automation. As you can see from the illustration, their focus moves from the automation of work in Excel to a broader business focus.
So at the very basics, we have tools that help you automate how you work in Excel. The next level looks at how you can expand your Excel automation to include other desktop applications.
So the first two are automation that take place on your desktop. The next level focuses on how you can automate the distribution of the Excel data. The first level is to share Excel data in a database automatically —the next more advanced level is where you distribute your excel data into a bespoke-created web application. The highest level of Excel sharing from a business perspective is to automate how you include your Excel data into your business systems’ flows.
Each of the five steps is illustrated with a specific business application. We start from the core use of Excel, and here we find Visual Basic.
Level 1: Internal Excel automation
Visual Basic, also known as VBA, lets you automate tasks within your Excel sheets. You do this by creating custom commands that you can include in your Excel toolbar or as a button. The most common use cases for VBA are Data Related Tasks., Workbook Tasks., Pivot Table Tasks, and Userforms.
So Visual basic makes you faster and more efficient if you have a job where you need to repeatedly perform the same kind of data management tasks.
Creating Visual Basic commands requires that you understand how to specify how automation should run and that you can build the processes in an editor. It does not require coding skills, but you have to have a certain level of mathematical understanding to create and build automation.
Microsoft Power Automate
Level 2: Desktop automation
Power Automate (formerly known as Flow) is a cloud-based service that makes it easy to create automated workflows between your favorite services and applications. So we now go from an automation view from inside Excel that Visual Basic could help us with to a focus on integrating excel with one or more apps on your local computer.
You can either build your own flows from scratch or use one of the many templates to create workflows that automate time-consuming tasks, such as collecting data, retrieving messages, and synchronizing files and processes across applications.
Microsoft Power Automate is conceptually very inspired by how Zapier or IFTTT works, which means that you design components that can work together in a sequence of events or a flow.
Level 3: Database automation
The last three levels of excel automation move the focus from your desktop to your business systems. The first step in such a journey would be to import your excel data into a database. Doing so would enable your colleges to access your data. It would also be possible to include the data in your business systems.
A way of automating such a task would be to use a Robotics Process Automation (RPA) tool. Such tools can be configured to automatically import Excel files into a database. There are many RPA tools on the market. We have selected Automation Anyware, but any RPA tool can be configured to do such a task for you automatically. You can find an overview of the top 25 free RPA tools here.
Level 4: Web application automation
Sometimes it makes sense to expose the data that you have created in an easily accessible way. So it is possible for a larger audience to access your files, and perhaps also in a more digested way where you make it easier for them to understand and navigate in your data. In such cases, it would be handy to expose the data in a web browser. This is the focus of Keikai. The solution lets you do so, either by using one of their many preconfigures templates or by building your own.
Read more on: https://keikai.io/
Level 5: Business flow automation
The focus of Cognifirm is to let you use your Excel data directly in your business flow. Meaning that if you work with salary reporting as an example, this tool lets you automatically import timesheets data reported in Excel into your HR salary system.
You do so by uploading your Excel data into the system, and it then pastes into the right place in your business system. Cognifirm is browser-based and works with any online business system. It does not require coding skills to get started. Excel import is just one of Cognifirm’s features.