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The Most Important Excel Functions for Management Consultants

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June 24, 2022
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4 minutes
Gizela has almost two decades of experience within the Digital sphere and eagerly awaits the day she can be cloned so she can finally get everything on her daily to-do list done

Many might not be aware of the fact that Microsoft Excel has been around since 1985 and was first released as part of Steve Job’s brainchild: the Macintosh computer. Since then the program has undergone a few software facelifts, but its core functionalities have remained the same. Its sheets and cells have clearly withstood the test of time and with good reason.

Why is Excel so popular?

Excel boasts roughly 750 million users worldwide. There are a few reasons why this software has gathered such a following:

  • It’s always been sold as part of the MS Office software package. That means that even if you didn’t want it in the first place, you got it anyway. This way, many who would’ve never even given the software a second thought got introduced to it. And many started using it because of curiosity alone.
  • Despite being more than 3 decades old, Excel is not outdated and is still one of the best analytical tools on the market. Competitors have started creeping out of the woodwork throughout the years. Nevertheless, Excel is still being used in most households and offices around the world. This says a lot about the functionalities this software brings to the table.
  • A high demand leads to exceptional support. Being one of the best requires customer service that is next level. That is why Microsoft has various options (from training to contacting support) available to make life as easy as possible for their users. Millions of users also have the same benefit. You only need to type in Excel on YouTube or a platform like Quora to be inundated by a plethora of helpful Excel exercises and resources.
  • This software is truly for everyone. It’s fairly easy to use, so that’s why many who do not consider themselves very computer-literate still manage to do things like their budgets with the help of Excel. But the program also offers advanced functionalities. This makes Excel perfect to use in businesses.
“First, solve the problem. Then, write the code.” – John Johnson

How Excel functions are used in business

As mentioned earlier, Excel functions hold many benefits for businesses, and this includes management consultants. Many of its most prominent features are what makes Excel the go-to program for many consultants. Let’s dive into a few of these functionalities and how to use Excel in business:

“Pivot! Pivot!”

Unlike popular belief, it wasn’t Ross Gellar and his impractical couch that reigned pivot supreme in the 90s. Excel was already king of the castle with its pivot tables. Pivot tables essentially make large data sets more digestible. It allows you to “pivot” on certain things.


This is an Excel formula that’s not for the faint of heart. It essentially allows you to perform an “array” of calculations in a row or column of values (or even both).

Ctrl + alt +delete

So maybe not this one, but another way how to use Excel in business is by highlighting certain data or information via formatting. There are various control shortcuts available to either Bold or color certain information in your sheets.

Who thought separation could be easy?

There is no heartbreak or legal battles to get certain things separated in Excel. In fact, its ‘text to column’ functionality makes it very easy to separate certain information based on the spacing. For example, if you would like to keep a name and surname in separate columns, you simply select the specific column of data. Then, based on the spacing between the names and the surname, it will sort the data into separate columns automatically by clicking on the ‘text to column’ functionality.

Minimum or maximum?

Need to know the minimum or maximum of the data you’re currently analyzing? The answer lies in the palm of your…well, Excel command. Just type min or max (insert column or row of data), click enter and voila!

Excel functions for consultants

From merely taking a look at how you use Excel functions in business, it’s very easy to see why Excel for consultants can be a valuable tool. Pivot tables can allow you to take larger data (for example, customer purchases), and “pivot” on things such as the product or customers to showcase only certain metrics, i.e., total or average. And Arrays allows you to create averages or subtotals for sub-categories within a larger data collection. But there are other functionalities that make Excel for consultants a match made in heaven:

Profitability insights

The reason consultants are usually called in is to figure out where a company is making or losing money. To do a detailed profitability analysis, you will need quite a few formulas and calculations. Luckily, Excel makes this possible.

Valuation models

Excel is the top pick for consultants when it comes to value model development. From cash flow forecasts to margin calculations – Excel functionalities such as ‘goalseek’ and ‘if statements’ make this a piece of cake.

Survey data analysis

Nothing can give a consultant better insight into the inner workings of a business than its staff. That is why consultants often make use of surveys with specific departments within the organization and the managerial team. By capturing the data in Excel and making use of some of the functionalities mentioned in this article, certain results will truly start screaming at you from the sheets. Therefore, Excel has proven invaluable when it comes to survey data analysis.

Excel for consultants may seem completely foreign at first with all its Excel for consultants jargon and references to all sorts of calculations and formulas, but we promise that it’s not nearly as complicated as it may sound. And between Excel exercises via specialized Microsoft training courses or simply tackling the Excel exercises on a YouTube tutorial – you’ll soon get the hang of it. Excel will simplify your consultant life dramatically and help you get to the real numbers behind a company’s problems much easier and faster.