Some workplace tasks are completed much quicker when you use software, but how do you know if you are getting the best out of the program? What are the tell-tale signs that you could get more out of the program with some targeted training?

Programs are designed to be easy to use and with a bit of knowledge and practise you can really benefit from their features and functions. The time has come to learn more about Excel if any of the following points seem familiar.

Also, see our finance for non financial managers courses.

Deadlines are missed

So you've got an email in your inbox about a missed deadline again or you're trying to wangle more time to complete a data entry task. Perhaps you work in finance and need to enter all the overtime hours, sickness days and holidays into a form, and you just can't complete it in the time allocated.

This is when Excel training can help you finish data entry jobs quicker and accurate so you can focus on the analysis. For example, Excel includes functions and formulas to automate regular calculations, and options to present data in a range of charts to make it easier to spot trends, or monitor costs. Commands allowing you to alter and save data are easy to find and the intuitive fields and cells remember past entries so you don't have to retype words.

Lost data

Are you forever searching for data, such as an order number, or invoice details? Then Excel may assist you in finding key information, as well as giving you filters to call up the necessary figures. The spreadsheets are so large they can contain practically all the data that you have. In addition, PivotTables provide a brief summary of specific parts of the Excel document, so if you need to call up sales figures for certain months then these mini-reports can do just that.

Go over budget

Constantly making phone calls because another project needs its budget increased, could be a sign you're not keeping track of finances. Excel has many different kinds of templates that are designed for specific uses - from personal finance planners, like weddings, to those with businesses in mind. So, if you've taken out a loan, or you're creating a cash flow forecast for the next 12 months, then there's an Excel spreadsheet for you.

Payroll problems

Getting calls from staff reporting that they have been incorrectly paid is a red flag about payroll/invoice processes. Paying workers can get complicated when there are several different rates of pay, such as overtime, and maternity allowances. Excel has a host of different formulas that you can program it to perform on cells so that figures are accurate - and staff are happy.

Presentations fizzle out

Meetings are increasingly become more visual thanks to all the programs available, like PowerPoint. But occasionally even this software needs to be populated with files, such as spreadsheets, that might not look that interesting. If you find co-workers seem uninterested or aren't grasping the information you've laid out for them, then try and put the data into an Excel document, where you can add visuals. These can include sparklines and small bar graphs and charts that add weight to figures and make messages clearer and more appealing to the eye.

You're being chased up

Some managers want results yesterday, putting you under more pressure to get spreadsheets completed. But delegation is easy when you're using Excel, so if you're constantly being chased up then ward off requests by getting your co-workers involved. You can upload Excel spreadsheets to shared networks so others can fill in fields and cells, depending on the permissions you set.

In the office 24/7

Another late night at the office examining data in spreadsheets is another sign that you could do with some Excel training. Thanks to hi-tech mobile devices and software designed for smartphones, you can take spreadsheets with you. This means that if you're waiting on final edits to a form - perhaps via a shared workspace - or you simply need to work while on the go, you're never far from Excel documents and you can head home on time.

These are seven signs that you can get more out of Excel's functions, to complete your work more quickly, increase business productivity, and reduce stress. If one or more of these points ring true, now is the time to think about your training needs and the personal and commercial benefits you can gain by improving your Excel skills.