Times are a little hectic for Jonny. He's overseeing sales for Bonny Beans, a national retailer of coffee and coffee accessories, and struggles in the wider economy have struck the designer beverage industry a sturdy blow. His managers are looking to reposition the company in the market; to drop some unsuccessful lines, promote those that have remained strong throughout, perhaps creating new products from pre-existing prosperous lines to make the most of those parts of the market that remain steady.

To this end, Jonny has had to collate incomes, expenditures and sales statistics from across the company, to analyse them and get a clearer picture of where Bonny Beans' future lies.

He's used Microsoft Excel for all of this. Excel can manage his information for him - storing vast amounts of data (each spreadsheet can hold up to 1 million rows and 16,000 columns), creating a range of versatile charts to display the data clearly and comprehensibly, and offering many analytical tools to ensure that Jonny understands the company's position as completely as can be. But as much as he can be helped by the tools that Excel has to offer, the business won't benefit if he can't share the fruits of his newfound knowledge. Only then can the organisation move forward.

Accessible data

If Jonny wants to keep colleagues up to speed as he's going along, it helps to make sure that his work can be examined and distributed as easily as possible. Excel makes this very easy for him, providing a number of different tools with which to communicate data to those who need it.

Using Excel in tandem with Excel Services, Jonny's work can be rendered as HTML. This simply means that colleagues and other interested parties can log on to Excel Services, and view Jonny's spreadsheets and analysis through a web browser. The data can be searched, analysed and filtered, allowing anyone that Jonny wishes to share the data with to get just the knowledge that they need, in the form that suits them best.

Web browsers can also be used to view Excel business dashboards - concise reports of spreadsheet data, which Jonny can build from charts, conditional formatting and whatever he feels to be the most important figures. The intention of the business dashboard is to present the key facts in a manner that can be instantly understood, and with Excel, dashboards can be created and shared simply and quickly.

Jonny has alternative solutions available to him, too, if he wants to share the whole spreadsheet. Should he need to email it to colleagues, he doesn't need to make sure that everyone has access to Excel in order to be able to open the spreadsheet - he can save spreadsheets as .pdf or .xps files, which are freely accessible to any PC or Mac, and even some mobile phones.

Sharing with the team

What if Jonny had needed to share his spreadsheet whilst it was being created, to bring together a team to collate the data? Again, Excel can help him here. Spreadsheets can be published via Excel to Microsoft Office SharePoint, allowing everyone in the team to access the same file. With this, Jonny can ensure that everyone in his team is working with the most up-to-date information, and that no-one is replicating data; it's all too easy for a number of colleagues to end up producing multiple files, often with conflicting information. By using Excel and SharePoint in tandem he can easily prevent a serious problem from arising.

Other members of the team, in collecting their own data, can also use SharePoint to set up Data Connection Libraries. Information that Jonny's colleagues store in these libraries can be accessed directly from Excel, so Jonny can be sure that he can always access the most relevant and up-to-date information for the spreadsheet - and produce the most accurate and instructive reports for management to make their decisions with. Ultimately, this accuracy and clarity is vital at such a challenging time for the company; with Excel, Jonny can feel comfortable that his work will give the business every opportunity to move forward.

Once he's satisfied that he fully understands and has analysed the situation, Jonny can also share his findings by incorporating Excel charts and data into other Office applications, such as Word documents and PowerPoint presentations. Thanks to Jonny's work with Excel, Bonny Beans can look forward to a brighter future focused on the more profitable segments of their market. Of course, you can bring the same benefits to your company - a short training course will help you and your staff to make the best use of the software - and you too can find that with Excel, it's easier both to understand the past and to look forward to a positive future.