Having worked with Excel for well over a decade in global companies, I’ve seen the rapid rise of data volumes over the last few years. Although many people only deal with ‘Small Data’ (Less than 5000 rows of 15-20 columns), larger data sets are on fast on the rise and you need to get comfortable dealing with them.
Here are five good reasons you want to consider learning Pivot Tables in a world of increasing data levels:
1. Speed of calculation
Once you are over 5000 rows X 15-20 columns then formulas can slow down, Pivot Tables run off the ‘Pivot Cache’, a makeshift memory that will keep the calculations quick
2. Get a perspective on existing data…really quickly
This is what I often refer to as quick and dirty analysis, we’ve just been landed with some data and want to understand it, so I’ll throw it into a Pivot Table and have a quick play around, usually I’ll uncover some headline number insights and also dodgy data that ‘ll go away and fix.
3. Summarise your information…really quickly
This is focused on summarising, so you should have a grasp of your data, you construct a Pivot Table of what you expect, then you spend a few minutes playing around with slicing and dicing to see if you can get more insights. If not, time to move on
4. Where Pivots shine more than formulas
Grouping data summaries, especially when reporting quarterly data, it’s a lot more work to do this with formulas, you can do it, I used to do it, but I would suggest letting Pivot Tables do the heavy lifting here.
5. Interface with PowerPivot
This is more advanced, when your dataset is very large (greater than >100,000 rows…occasionally 50,000 rows * 15-20 columns), then Pivot tables will slow down, so you need PowerPivot, which is like taking out the Pivot Tables ford engine and replacing it with a V8!