Reshaping your data easily – Case study [Pivot tables FTW]

Reshaping your data easily – Case study [Pivot tables FTW]

Late. Jayaram, my uncle is also a teacher. When I was a kid, I used to spend a lot of time with him, learning all sorts of things. He taught me chess, maths and so many life lessons. I remember one such lesson very vividly.  One day, he asked me to do something. I did it in a very long way. After seeing me struggle for several minutes, he chipped in and showed me how to do it easily. He then said, “when someone asks you where your nose is, you don’t twist arm around your head. You just point to your nose directly.”

The idea is that when you have a direct, simple way to do something, you should use it.

Nose and pivot tables… how are they connected?

We are coming to the point. Read on for full case study and solution.

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Figuring out Employee Churn with Power Query [HR Analytics]

Figuring out Employee Churn with Power Query [HR Analytics]

Let’s say you are the people manager at ACME Inc. You are looking staff list for the months – January and February 2017. You see that we had 4,000 employees in Jan and 4,200 employees in Feb. So what is the churn?

  • Is it just 200?
  • Or is it the sum of people who left and who joined?
  • What if you want to find out how many people moved to new designations / departments or groups?

You see, churn is tricky to figure out.

So why not invite the pros? ie Power Query. 

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Kill NULLs – a Simple macro to save time when importing data from SQL Server

Kill NULLs – a Simple macro to save time when importing data from SQL Server

As part of a my ongoing consulting gig, I often run painfully long queries on SQL Server to fetch data. This data obviously ends up in Excel for further analysis. Now, some of these queries return NULL values in several columns (did I tell you that the queries have a gazillion left joins on them, oh yeah, they do). Although technically NULL is nothing, when you import this data to Excel, we get the text value NULL in the cells. And I don’t need these NULL values messing up all the calculations and pivots.

Of course, we can go ahead and use the isnull() SQL function to deal with them at the query level. But since the queries have 100s of columns and used by various teams for different purposes, changing them causes a lot of pain. So I did what any sensible Excel user would do. Just kill those NULLs mercilessly once they are in Excel.

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Lookup most frequent item [Homework]

Lookup most frequent item [Homework]

Here is an interesting problem to keep your brain cells fight boredom on this Friday & weekend.

Let’s say you have some data like above.

And you want to know, for a given customer name (in cell G4),

  • What is the most frequent quantity?
  • What is the most often purchased item?

How would you write formulas to get these answers?

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Use CTRL to make copies of worksheets quickly

Use CTRL to make copies of worksheets quickly

The other day, I found myself making copies of a templated report worksheet. After trying the usual route of “right click on source sheet, select move or copy, check create a copy and press OK” a few times, I thought “well that is asinine.” So I figured, may be CTRL+Drag will create a copy. And what do you know, it does.

So that is our quick tip for the day. Whenever you need to make a copy of something, simply hold CTRL key and drag the thing.

It works for charts, drawing shapes, worksheets and even ranges.

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Find them and Extract them – VBA Macro

Find them and Extract them – VBA Macro

I started a new consulting gig with NZ Ministry of Business (aside: when I told my daughter about this, she widened her eyes and said ministry of MAGIC!!! ). On my first day, while having lunch in breakout area, I chatted with the gentleman sitting opposite me. We got talking about this and that and eventually the topic turned to What I do at MB. So I told him that I am helping the HR with some data analysis and reporting using Excel & SQL Server. He asks me, “So you must be familiar with Excel object model”. I said, “oh, why yes”. He then asks me, “I have this problem that is bothering me for years. You see, I get a lot of data. And I use Find (Ctrl+F) to find all the cells that contain certain code. But the results are all over the place. I want to know how to extract all the finds to a target worksheet – value & address format.”

I explained him how to do this while chewing mouthfuls of rice & veggies.

But once I am home, I thought, “hey, maybe there are others out in the world who want to do this”.

So here we go.

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Designing awesome financial metrics dashboard [tutorial]

Designing awesome financial metrics dashboard [tutorial]

In this amazing guest post, the winner of our 2016 dashboard contest – Chandeep – Explains how he constructed the jaw dropping beauty (shown above) using Excel, creativity, love and sweat. Grab a full cup of coffee (or whatever liquid fancies you) and read on. Take lots of notes and play with the ideas in Excel while reading to maximize your learning.

Thanks Chandeep.

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