Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Pivot Tables – A First Look

This week, we will begin a brief series of posts regarding Pivot Tables. As I mentioned in my blog post seven years ago, much has been written on Pivot Tables, and much has also been misunderstood about this highly practical, but not perfect tool.

Good Things about Pivot Tables
Every analyst or manager should have at least moderate skills at using pivot tables. You can use pivot tables to summarize, analyze, and explore what-ifs in your data. What is particularly beneficial about Pivot Tables is they are very powerful, lightning fast, and easy to use. As if that wasn’t enough, if you change your mind on your layout, it takes only seconds to modify the view of your data/information.

A Few Quirks…
Although some analysts live and breathe Pivot tables, they are not all things for all situations. Though powerful, they have some odd quirks, such as resizing your columns when you change an entry and, (although this is easy do so…), often need to be rebuilt if your data significantly changes.

A Word regarding Aesthetics
Let’s face it, pivot tables are not going to win any beauty contests! Whereas, you can apply one of the stock formatting schemes that haven’t changed in many years, they are still rather, well, homely. This, of course, may not be or key importance to you if you are just doing some “quick and dirty” analysis, but it may not be something you want to show the board of directors.

Some Final Thoughts
Though not an ideal tool for every circumstance, pivot tables can often save you many hours of analysis time, and they truly are easy to use. If you have never experimented with Pivot Tables, give them a try. I can guarantee that you will amaze yourself with how simple it is to manipulate your data.

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