Is Excel automation a threat to professionals?
The short answer is: "No, if you can position yourself on the right side of the spreadsheet automation". Let's see how to do it.
How can spreadsheets be automated?
In the previous article, we explained what Excel automation is and how to make sense of it. We distinguished between three major Excel automation methods:
creating templates that speed up the spreadsheet tasks
programming VBA macros that execute tasks chosen by the user
deploying programming solutions outside Excel, such as RPA software or Python.
Now, let's focus on how it affects over 1.2 bln of Excel users, especially their job security.
What kind of spreadsheet work will be automated first?
Automation seen as an investment is most lucrative when it involves repetitive processes that do not require human-specific knowledge. Especially if scripts perform them better than humans who can commit manual errors.
In other words, you can deploy VBA to import data from SAP, populate templates and convert them into pre-defined reports saved in PDF format. However, you can't use macros to approve the annual budget (unless the approval is broken down to a set of rules that have to be fulfilled).
Luckily enough, it's the mundane tasks that are first in line to be overtaken by macros or other automation solutions.
Which professions should embrace Excel automation?
The more often and more extensively you use Excel, the higher benefits of embracing its progressing automation are. Based on our experience as Excel Consultants, we can say that these professionals use Excel most frequently and have to deal with macros and structured Excel work the most.
Business Intelligence Specialists
Human Resource Teams
Marketing and sales professionals may also be affected if they rely on custom-made spreadsheet solutions. When it comes to industries, Bankers, Management Consultants, Property Managers, and Retailers will be significantly impacted. They often can't replace Excel with bespoke tools to not lose compatibility with their subcontractors and business partners. Small & medium Logistics companies and many outsourcing firms are also subjected to eradicating unproductive manual work in Excel.
Will Excel automation eliminate my job?
No, at least not directly. Spreadsheet automation will gradually transform most of the aforementioned professions, making the work more efficient and impactful. It will also change the proportion between creative, expertise-based work and manual data processing, lifting the burden of performing simple tasks that don't add value.
It's easy to imagine this by analysing the analogy with the popularisation of computers. Accountants no longer needed to maintain physical records in books, but their profession was not eradicated. Perhaps 90% of accountancy work 60 years ago involved looking into notebooks and comparing records. At the same time, despite immense efficiency gains, the accountants remain in demand, but their work profile is different.
Excel is not a top-edge technology that will replace professionals, but rather the bridge between specialised software and expert knowledge. It allows no-coders to use and leverage data effectively.
How to stay on the winning side of automation?
There are many ways to do that, but if VBA programming is not something you like to pursue and learn through Excel automation courses, there are other ways. One of the best is being mindful about the Excel workloads and looking for automation and standardization opportunities in Excel.
You can also make sure to accurately document the tasks you perform in Excel to accumulate company-wide expertise and to pass valuable insights to process improvement or VBA development teams. You can also hire Excel Consultancy to help you automate and improve your Excel workloads.