Although I feel I have always been more than competent using Microsoft Excel, when I started my current role I quickly discovered there were some sections of Excel (Pivot tables) that I was distinctly amateur at.
On reflection it wasn’t that I wasn’t aware of pivot tables it was more that I did not use them or see their worth. I am a strong believer in the fact that what you know falls into distinct categories:
- Things you know you know
- Things you know you don’t know
- Things you don’t know you know
- Things you don’t know you don’t know
On this occasion with my limited experience with pivot tables lead me to believe I was in the “don’t know you don’t know” category. I then set about plugging this hole in my knowledge and ensuring that I was up to speed and able to get the most benefit from this powerful Excel feature.
After much research I had collated a fair amount of material on pivot tables and was looking for a way to get value from this research. It also occurred to me that I was unlikely to be the only person in the department that had gaps in their knowledge they were not aware of. So with this in mind and following agreement from my line manager I set about producing training material for the finance function and wider organisation on all aspects of excel.
The training produced has been broken down into 4 distinct levels
Mission Control – An introduction to Excel including navigating around the software and an introduction to basic functions and formulas.
Launchpad – Basic key shortcuts and more in depth functions and formula
Orbit – Advanced functions and data validation
Interstellar – More advanced functions and an introduction to macros
Although the material was well received I thought there was more that could be done to benefit the team. So I decided to push my boundaries and arrange training sessions to go through the training material live and allow people to try out the formula and functions in a supportive environment.
The training sessions were a success and we were able to share a whole host of tips and tricks between the groups. Every member of the team left with some new skills and we agreed to schedule quarterly meetings where each member could bring a spreadsheet problem and we would work through it as a team.
The idea of working colaborately on a problem a team member faced is a great way to understand the work colleagues undertake and also provides a forum where current processes can be reviewed objectively. The fact that other staff were not as close to the details allowed them to provide constructive criticism and a fresh view of the problem.
The final element to the excel training was that I launched a website www.excellaunchpad.uk to host all the training material, hopefully this will serve as a quality resource for those outside our organisation.