Microsoft Office is a very powerful suite of software, even if it has a reputation as a dull collection of software. Getting access to the full power of Microsoft Office can lead to large gains in productivity. Because of this hidden power, I have decided to make mastering Microsoft Excel my first learning project for this blog.
There are three reasons for taking the time to learning Excel at a deeper level. The first is that Excel is a powerful program. Through my work, I have not begun to access all the functions build into Excel. Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is a powerful tool for automating Excel spreadsheets. A general lack of documentation for Excel is the second reason for making it a learning project. My hope is that other people will find this information useful. Productivity at work and home is the third reason for starting a deep dive into Excel. As I work on other projects, Excel will be a useful aid.
If all goes according to plan, there are multiple objectives I can accomplish at once. The primary objective is to create an advanced spreadsheet for managing our family budget. The secondary tasks are to use VBA to automate Excel and to perform data analysis. VBA will be used as part of the budget spreadsheet project. My work at the college will benefit from applying data analysis to find trends in student performance and enrollment patterns.
There were a couple of alternative projects I was considering instead of Excel. Learning the C# programming language was my first choice. I will probably do a project with C# and machine learning or the Internet of Things later this year. I am putting off C# because Excel will better suit my immediate needs. I also considered using LibreOffice Calc in the place of Excel. LibreOffice is open source and uses the OpenDocument standard, which are great for people who do not have access to Microsoft Office. However, my college uses Microsoft Office, so I would have to learn Excel anyway.
The first learning project is underway. I will be seeking out the most powerful features Excel has to offer. At the end of the project, I will have a spreadsheet to plan for the financial future of my family. My hope is that you can share in the journey as well.