Excel is a necessary tool for keeping data organized and adding in some calculations for more detail down the road. But look at how many times you’ve opened that spreadsheet, calculated one number, saved it, and then closed it again. It would be easier if you could automate these reports so that you can get it done faster in the future.
How To Build An Automated Report In Excel With Power Query
The first software to include a toolbar is ascribed to Excel 3.0.
As an experienced Excel user, you know that excel formula and excel reporting are essential to working with data file. The Excel tool makes it easy to work with formulas and reports, and you can use it to create powerful tools for managing your data.
1. Connect To A Data Source
You’re going to want to start with an Excel spreadsheet that is already full of data. In this example, we are going to use an email marketing list that contains all of our customers. Start by opening the Excel file and clicking on the Power Query tab in the top left corner. You can also select Get External Data > From Other Sources > Blank Query and work your way through the wizard.
2. Append Another Related Table Or View
You will be prompted with a box labeled Choose from source data. The first thing you are going to want to do is click Change Source and connect to a new data source (in our case, it’s another Excel spreadsheet).
Find the spreadsheet in your file system, and click Open. The file will then be added as a table to your query.
3. Analyze The Data From Multiple Tables
After you’ve added your data tables, it’s time to combine everything into one large data set (this is known as a union query). You can do this by clicking on either of the tables and clicking Merge > Combine To New Query (or right-clicking and choosing Combine To New Query).
You’ll be prompted to name this query. We decided to name it All List Data.
4. Sort And Group Your Data
At this point, our query has become pretty large, so we are going to have to start grouping and sorting the data. This helps us get the information that we want at a higher level before we filter it down even further. To do this, click on the Super Set tab in Power Query. You can also sort data by clicking on either of the column headers in your query.
5. Add Filters To Limit Your Output
Now that you’ve got a good idea of what sort of data you have, it’s time to start cleaning things up and narrowing down your report. To do this, click on the Filter tab and add filters for your desired results.
In our example, we want to show only new customers and only contacts with more than one email address. To do this, select Add Column > From One Table > From Selected Table and connect to your query. Make sure you check both New Customers and Contacts > Has More Than One Email Address.
6. Sort Your Report In The Natural Way
The maximum internal formula length in Excel 2007 and later is 16,384 bytes, while the maximum length of a formula’s contents is 8,192 characters.
Once you’ve added your filters for the report, it’s time to sort the data that is left over by clicking on the Columns tab in Power Query and selecting Sort By > Descending.
7. Review Your Data
At this point, you have narrowed down your report to show only new customers who have more than one email address. You can easily double-check that all of this information is correct by clicking on the Preview & Filter tab and selecting Preview > Create Temporary View from Selected Table. You can also check the formatting of your final query by selecting Change Data Source View > Power Query > M (For Most Recent).
8. Send Your Report To Excel
Once you’ve double-checked everything and you’re happy with the results, it’s time to export the report again, but this time in a different format (Excel XML). Click on the Script tab and then click Run Script > Paste and Share. This will bring up a box where you can save your Excel template as .xlsx or .csv.
9. Review Your Export File In Excel
Go ahead and do a quick preview of your exported report in an Excel spreadsheet. You should see your data organized exactly as you intended.
10. Automate Your Report By Saving It To A Template
Now that you have everything looking good, you can go ahead and save this Excel template for future use. Go to File > Save As and choose the type of format (Excel Workbook) > name it (we called our first report Customers with Multiple Email Addresses) and save it in a place that is easy for future access.
Benefits Of Automating Excel Reports
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There are many external data sources that can be used with Microsoft Excel. One popular option is to use Excel workbooks as a single excel file source. This can be done by linking the workbook to an external data source, such as a database or another Excel sheet.
1. A Unified View Of More Data
If you’re using multiple spreadsheets, it can be hard to see the bigger picture. This can make it difficult to compare data across reports for more effective analysis. By automating your Excel reports, you get an easier way to look at everything in one place to help drive better decision-making.
2. A Faster Way To Go From Information To Insight
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Editing information manually is time-consuming. With Power Query, you have the ability to quickly pull together information from different sources and automatically present your team with a cohesive view of your KPIs and other data insights that are better suited for analysis.
3. A New Way To Integrate Data
Integrating data from different sources and updating underlying data may be the next step for your organization. Power Query’s ability to pull raw data from third-party sources and append it to a single piece of data will give you a better way to ensure that you’re getting the most out of each source. This also provides a greater opportunity for IT to integrate more disparate systems and make them accessible in one report.
4. The Missing Link Between Excel And Other Applications
The beauty of Excel is its comprehensive nature, but sometimes it can be difficult to send the information off into other programs or workflows that may not be as friendly.
Integrating Power Query into this process, however, will give you the ability to quickly share data and bypass a lot of the hurdles that normally exist in transitioning information to other software.
5. A Better Way To Mix And Match Data Sources
Where Power Query really starts to shine is when it’s used to bring all your disparate data sources into one easy-to-understand format. With other methods of importing data, you may have limited options for filtering or modifying your reports.
But with Power Query, you can create a single view of all your data that not only saves time but also gives you more control over how your information is presented.
6. The Fastest Way To Understand The Hierarchy
It’s not just about the data you have, but how that data is organized as well. When it comes to bringing together multiple data sources, Power Query will automatically detect and organize your hierarchies and make them available for analysis.
For example, if you have a level-based employee structure in a source email database, you can use it to create hierarchical reports on salary or employee performance.
7. A Better Way To Combine Large Data Sets
If you have a system with a lot of disparate data and hundreds of reports for different levels of the organization, using Power Query can bring all those resources into one easy-to-understand report that’s ready for analysis.
For example, having Power Query tag all your queries can help you visualize where you have overlapping information to help reduce storage costs.
8. A Better Way To Find Information
The last benefit of automating your Excel reports is that it gives you a better way to search through your information. With Power Query’s ability to bring in data from other sources and parse it into a normalized format, you’ll be able to query and find specific results with less effort with faster access times. This means that employees of all levels will have the ability to quickly see what they need and when they need it.
Risks Of Automating Excel Reports
A single cell can be the basis for up to 4,000,000,000 (that’s billion) formulae.
If you work with Excel spreadsheets on a regular basis, you know how tedious it can be to generate reports manually. But what if there were a way to automate the process? With an Excel add-in, you can easily generate reports without having to do any coding yourself. Simply select the same folder that your Excel spreadsheets are saved in and the add-in will do the rest.
1. Using The Wrong Tools
When it comes to automation, there are a number of different tools that claim to help you overcome the manual reporting process. Unfortunately, not all tools are created equally.
If your organization chooses a tool that is too simplistic, you’re likely not going to get the value out of it that you hoped for. But if you choose a tool that’s too complicated, some members of your team might end up avoiding using it altogether.
2. Not Understanding How The Tool Works
Another challenge with trying to automate your Excel reports is simply understanding how the tool works and how it’s going to help streamline your data flows and output management processes. So make sure that your team understands the tool and how it can make their lives easier.
3. Taking Advantage Of Automation
Once you’ve decided to automate your Excel reports, you’ll still need to put in the time to ensure your team is going through the process step-by-step. The whole point of automation is to remove these manual processes, but that doesn’t mean they won’t take a bit of time upfront to get right.
Often, it will just take a little extra effort on everyone’s parts to give this automation process a try so that it will help them once it’s up and running.
4. Not Managing Project Scope
It’s easy to get caught up in automating a tool and not realizing that you’re going to have to spend time on other parts of your project. This is a very common issue with Excel automation, as many teams end up overlooking the fact that they’ll also need to invest in setting up an automated capture method. This will ensure that the data is being recorded and not just written into the tool.
5. Not Analyzing Your Data
If you reach this point where you’ve automated your Excel reports and are excited about how it’s going, don’t stop there! It’s important to ensure that the data doesn’t go completely unnoticed.
It’s easy for the team to get caught up in the excitement of automation and not realize that they’re missing crucial pieces of data. This is especially true when it comes to identifying duplicate records or missing information that you’ll need to be able to identify.
6. Not Being Prepared For Next Steps
Even if your team goes through this process and automates their reporting system, they won’t be done with Excel reports just yet. It’s important to have a plan in place for where this tool is going next, whether it’s finishing up their Excel reports or looking into other options. This is a great time to discuss what’s working, what isn’t, and how you can improve those areas for the future.
7. Not Understanding The Cost Of Automation
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Although many teams like to talk about automation and its cost-saving benefits, this isn’t always an area that people are focused on when it comes to Excel reports. As with any kind of investment or project that requires resources, there’s going to be a cost involved—and it may not be one that you’re initially prepared for when you first consider automating your data flows. Make sure that your team takes this into account before they start developing their tool!
8. Not Taking Action
If you get to this point and discover that some of your Excel reports are not performing well, it’s important to take action in order to ensure that it’s not another opportunity wasted. The first step is likely to take a look at what tools you have available and how they can be utilized in order to fix the problem.
After that, it’s critical for your team to make sure they’re taking advantage of their automation system by ensuring that it is being used on a daily basis and gone through like a regular reporting process.
Excel automation is the process of using a software tool to automatically perform tasks for you that would normally require manual work. The reason this is valuable is because it significantly reduces time and effort required from your team, making the process better, easier, and faster.
In this case, your team will be able to get more accurate data faster than if they were completing these tasks manually. This can also make it easier for non-technical users to automate their reports using a simple interface that doesn’t require advanced technical skills.