What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Pivot Tables?
A successful business is a result of a perfect mix of sound decisions from management, good employees, excellent tools, and a little bit of luck. Without any one of these elements, it becomes harder.
Those who are veterans in the field will tell you that all those mentioned above are to be learned slowly. Nobody gets good employees on their first hiring, management will make poor decisions from time to time, and you don’t get lucky every day. You can, however, ensure you have the best tools. It’s the one thing you can really control as a business. But it requires going through each one with a magnifying glass to ensure they can really help your business.
Sure, you can always pick the first one that comes up when you do a Google search. You can even go and ask what other people are using and just use that as well. After all, if they are using it then it probably works, right?
Sadly, this is not the case. Each business has varying needs. While 2 businesses might be in the same industry, they will have different needs dictated by their target market, location, and other factors. So in order for you to get the best tool for your needs, you need to make sure you know enough to make an informed decision.
One such tool is pivot tables in Excel. You may be wondering why a business should even worry about using pivot tables when in fact everybody uses them, right? Well, this is what the article will talk about. We will list down the advantages and disadvantages of using pivot tables for your business so you can decide whether it is the perfect tool for you or not.
What Is a Pivot Table?
Ever had the chance to look at an excel sheet that is just filled to the brim with data that you can’t seem to make sense of it all? That when you look at it you just feel like your brain is going to explode just sorting through the data? If so, you are not alone.
Today, data is everything for businesses. From inventory to customer buying behavior. Having data is like being handed over a strategy to get ahead of the competition. But raw data in itself won’t help you as much. What you need to do is to look through the data to look for trends and to use what you learned to make better decisions moving forward.
This is where it gets tricky, data analysis is a very time-consuming task and it requires an expert. But it doesn’t always have to be like that. You can always seek the help of technology for that.
That help comes in the form of pivot tables. A pivot table is a tool that can help you sort and analyze data. In a sense, a pivot table allows you to summarize a large group of data so you can organize and create better conclusions faster.
Sounds good right? Being able to summarize data and organizing it in a way that it becomes easier to interpret is always good, right? Well, pivot tables aren’t without any setbacks. Let’s talk about the benefits and disadvantages of pivot tables so you can decide whether it’s a good thing to use for your business or not.
Advantages of Using Pivot Tables
- Pivot tables allow you to see how your data works – Pivot tables are one of the many tools out there that can help users get deeper insights into their data. You can create multiple reports on multiple data sets from a single pool of data.
- Works well with SQL exports – A lot of data we have in our business are often generated from SQL queries. Pivot tables can work with both SQL exports (data downloaded/exported from SQL databases) and directly to SQL servers. This makes it easier for you to harvest data and transfer it directly into a format that you can easily analyze data.
- Large amounts of data can be segmented – One problem with data analysis is that it gets harder the more data you have. With pivot tables, you can easily segment data no matter how big the whole data set is. This makes analysis much easier and can actually help you spot trends in the data.
- Creating instant data is possible – When data is loaded into a pivot table, you have the freedom to use it any way you want. You can even program equations directly into the pivot table or use formulas to create instant data.
Disadvantages of Using Pivot Tables
- Mastering pivot tables takes time – Sure, creating a pivot table requires a few clicks inside Excel but truly mastering the tool takes time. First-time users of pivot tables might see it as confusing and overwhelming. Only when you have “tamed the beast” can you properly use it for data analysis.
- Can be time-consuming to use – Depending on how you would like to use your data within the pivot table, using it can actually take some time. This is because the tool itself does not include a robust collection of calculation options. This means the user is required to manually calculate the data or to manually input equations which can take some time.
- There are no automatic updates – Unless you regularly update your pivot table with new data, you are basically relying on old data for your metrics and analytics. This means it will be hard to rely on pivot tables for real-time analytics.
- Older computers might not be able to handle large data sets – When you are working with a couple of thousand lines of data then any computer will do just fine. But once you hit the tens of thousands mark, old computers might struggle to produce the data that you need. It’s also not rare to see computers crash just because they can’t handle the amount of data they are processing.
So what do you think? Are pivot tables for you? Note that a lot of the disadvantages can easily be addressed with a couple of tweaks or upgrades. Once you cover the disadvantages, you will have an indispensable tool in your arsenal that can help you defeat the competition.
While they can’t really help teach your employees how to make pivot tables, the team behind 360 Smart Networks can certainly help you with other IT-related concerns.
With over 19 years of experience serving businesses in Atlanta and Charlotte, 360 Smart Networks specializes in creating custom IT solutions for businesses with more than 20 users.
Call us today and ask us how you can get your business pivot table ready.