I Miss Excel: How SharePoint Makes it Easy to Maintain your Love Affair with Excel

In my last blog post, I wrote about how SharePoint trumps Excel in many cases where collaboration is important and the needs of the solution go beyond just one or two people. For those that are still clutching onto Excel (it’s OK – I know there are a lot of you!) here are 5 ways that SharePoint makes it easy to keep loving and using Excel even if you’ve acquiesced to the benefits of using a SharePoint solution:

  1. Store Excel in a document library.  If you still have the mindset that you’ll stop using Excel when someone pries it out of your cold dead hands, the first baby step is to start storing Excel workbooks inside SharePoint document libraries. You’ll miss out on a lot of benefits that you’d get from migrating your Excel sheet to one or more SharePoint lists, but you’ll be dipping your toes into some the benefits of SharePoint such as security, auditability, workflows, and so on (see my last blog post).
  2. Office Web Apps.  If you start storing Excel documents in SharePoint, you can now view and edit those documents using Office Web Applications. Translation: you can view and edit using Excel on any device with a Web browser even if Excel isn’t installed. Better translation: you can use your Android / iPhone / iPad / Galaxy, etc. to edit Excel documents using Excel without having Excel installed!
  3. Export to Excel.  When you manage a list in SharePoint instead of Excel, you automatically get to take advantage of the “Export to Excel” feature. Just browse to the list in question, click Export to Excel, and you now get all the data in familiar Excel format. You can even save the Excel workbook on your local computer and refresh with the latest SharePoint data every time you open it up.
  4. Two way linkage to Excel.  The export to Excel feature doesn’t allow you to update SharePoint lists from Excel, but there are a number of add-ons that do.
  5. Excel services.  Storing Excel documents in Excel allows you to take advantage of Excel services. This allows your Excel workbook to be stored in one place but be displayed in many others as a Web page (no Excel required when viewing it.)  Think about having a confidential, protected Excel workbook and being able to keep it confidential and protected, but exposing just a small bit of summary information to a wider audience. Examples include budget summaries, key metrics, and other information.

And one more bonus item for good measure:

  1. Power BI.  If you’re using SharePoint in the cloud (i.e. Office 365) and you store your Excel workbooks in SharePoint, you’d be amazed at how SharePoint’s built in business intelligence toolset, Power BI, lets you get insight into your data. Think of easy to build charts that you can navigate and explore and share across teams.

As you can see, leveraging SharePoint doesn’t have to mean completely abandoning Excel.

– Software Delivered as Promised. No Surprises.

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William Wu

Insight written by William Wu

Executive Vice President at Rand Group

William Wu has over 16 years’ experience consulting for and performing ERP software implementations in the energy, technology, telecommunications, and service industries. With a background in both accounting and business and extensive certifications in ERP systems, William possesses both the drive and skill to move a company from where it is, to where it needs to be.

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