Tim is tense. Uncertain economic times are having quite the negative impact on the fictional Bellingwood Mineral Industries, and the company needs to make the very most of all its extraction rights; Tim has been tasked with directing research into present and future profitability of ores. His deadline is unbending and fast approaching, and a good deal of information has been accumulated in time - but Tim still needs the tools to bring the data together, extract key trends, and to be able to present his findings clearly and effectively to managers. Tim needs Microsoft Office.


Tim has had researchers at Bellingwood sites and laboratories all over the world, assessing the current circumstances and comparing scientific and economic data, doing a sterling job identifying the key information that the company needs to ride out the current downturn. Now, he needs to bring together all the data in one place, for analysing where the company currently stands and for forecasting where it ought to head in future.

Of course, Excel offers the means to store all those figures, in spreadsheets that can run to millions of columns; and of course, Excel can automatically work out any sums and sort the data appropriately. These are all straightforward spreadsheet functions - unquestionably very useful, essential in Tim's position, but to be expected from this kind of software. Indeed, many will use whatever program comes to hand to store their numbers, not just spreadsheets but databases and word processors too. Turning to Excel, however, offers significant advantages.

As we've said, he needs to analyse the data; merely having the accumulated research can't be enough, and won't show the company which solution offers the best results. With Excel, he's able not merely to extract information but understanding and answers. Tim can expand any aspect of his data into a wide range of bar, pie, line, area and scatter charts - and large arrays of numbers are always much easier to understand as clear, graphical illustrations than simply presented as a mass of figures.

Alternatively, for a more immediate appraisal of the key trends and factors in the data, Tim can use conditional formatting, which automatically highlights entries according to conditions he sets - for instance, coloured cells to illustrate increase or decrease, or symbols to identify a figure that has passed a certain level. And he can also easily produce reports and dashboards from this information, presenting the needed answers together in one location.


Excel reports certainly provide a handy means for Tim to communicate the essential information to individual colleagues and managers. But for illustrating the fruits of his research to a wider number, the ideal situation lies elsewhere, with a broader scope and stronger visual appeal. Instead, Tim can create a PowerPoint presentation from his Excel content.

Whatever charts and reports he chooses to build, along with any part of the data, can be imported directly into PowerPoint; there, it can be incorporated simply into a stylish and professional presentation. In this respect, using PowerPoint gives him greater control - rather than presenting information to managers, colleagues or shareholders for their own interpretation, Tim can present the research as a complete and clearly defined solution to the company's problems.


Tim would also do well to consider augmenting his presentation with a published report. The PowerPoint presentation is certainly effective, but limited in two key aspects: it lasts for a short time only, and the level of detail he can include is necessarily restricted by time and the need for keeping the audience's attention with a snappy and engaging show. Furnishing the audience (and other stakeholders not in attendance) with a printed document overcomes both these issues - giving all concerned as much information as they could need, to peruse and develop conclusions from at their own leisure.

And just as Tim could take advantage of using different - and fully compatible - elements of the Microsoft Office suite to carry data straight from Excel to PowerPoint, so the same is true of Word. Again, those charts and tables can be pulled directly into a Word document, and resized and positioned to suit. With the freedom and versatility offered by Word, Tim can be confident of putting across every argument in the clearest and most engaging manner - and to give the report a high-class professional sheen, Microsoft Publisher gives him the means to make the most stylish impression with very little extra effort (and in very little time, most important for Tim given the fast-encroaching deadline).

Finally, and critically, whether he's using Word or Publisher, he can export his work as a pdf file with the touch of a button, allowing him to share it online with anyone, anywhere in the world. For a global enterprise like Bellingwood, the ability to communicate instantly across the world isn't a bonus, but an absolute necessity.

The great advantage Tim finds in using Office software is not just the quality of the tools - impressive though that is - but their compatibility, and the greater ease, efficiency and effectiveness of using these programs together. And the same can go for any occasion when your business requires the bringing together of different kinds of data, or the need for different forms of expression. A short training course for yourself or your staff can help you to make the most out of all the Office can do for your company - and help you to ensure that everyone sees your work in the best possible light.