If your job, side hustle or money-making hobby involves collecting, organizing and analyzing data, chances are you use Excel. If you don’t rely on Excel for data analysis directly, many of the programs and software you use have it as part of their foundation.
If you are the average tech-minded person with solid digital skills and experience, you likely already know your way around Excel. What you are probably less familiar with is Excel’s programming language, Visual Basics, and what it is and can be used for, and particularly how it can save you time and money.
Automating Data Collecting
If your job or money-making venture relies on regularly collecting and analyzing data from a recurring list of sites–e.g., sites that publish financial or marketing data, for instance–and you are collecting that data manually by copying and pasting, that is a lot of manual labor. Not only that, but it is manual labour that you could be automating with a macro created in VBA.
VBA is not exactly the most friendly programming language, but it can easily be learned in 20 hours. That really isn’t a huge investment of your time to acquire what are ultimately skills and know-how that will help you automate and streamline tasks that might otherwise be costing you a lot time and money, not to mention the opportunity costs.
Cut Down on Human Error
If you have a system in place for mitigating human errors and the damage they cause, you are saving yourself a lot of potential time and money. The great thing about VBA is that you can use it to automate tasks–sending emails using Excel data, creating pivot tables, creating summaries that you use to update customers, investors etc–which would otherwise require a lot of your time and a lot of manual input and processes. Manual input is where much of human error happens.
If you write your visual basics code properly, you can set up your macros so that this automation takes place with 100 percent accuracy every single time. Best of all, you can schedule them to happen at specific times of the day or week so that you don’t even need to be present for them.
Eliminate Time Spent on Tedium
Visual Basics is also worth learning because it eliminates monotony and low-impact tasks. If you are a business owner or leader, and you want to maximize the amount of time you spend on large, macro-level issues and problems, you can’t be bogged down by what could easily, with a little bit of VBA knowledge, be automated away.
It is estimated that businesses in the United States waste or misallocate more than 1.8 trillion dollars a year on mundane tasks. More than one full day per workweek is spent on dull, repetitive tasks and services which could easily be automated using something like Microsoft Excel. When you consider what that means in both unnecessary labour costs and unutilized human potential, not having a firm grasp of macros and Excel-based automation could be having a marked impact on your bottom line.
Whether you are a manager, a business owner, or an employee looking to maximize your contributions, knowing how and why to use Microsoft Excel’s Visual Basics to implement and carry out daily automation is an invaluable skill. Visual Basics seems unapproachable at first glance, but it is something that can be learned with a relatively small commitment of your time over just 20 hours (an hour every night for a month, for example).
If data collection and sorting, potentially costly human errors, and an exorbitant amount of time spent on tedious, repetitive tasks are keeping you up at night, seriously consider how you could and should be using VBA to eliminate this from your professional life.