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Excel 2010: Real-World Projects
Illustration by Neil Webb

Summarizing data visually


From:

Excel 2010: Real-World Projects

with Curt Frye

Video: Summarizing data visually

As the business has grown, Hansel & Petal have revised their product pulling procedures to make them more efficient. While the current process is simply a reordering of the previous steps the order runners were expected to take, it is different enough that the owners wanted to distribute a document that contains a summary of the steps and a conceptual diagram indicating how the greenhouse and nursery areas are grouped together. When the owners analyze their old process, they realize that the runners, the employees who went out into the greenhouse and nursery to pull products for orders, weren't taking efficient routes.

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Excel 2010: Real-World Projects
25m 0s Appropriate for all Jan 21, 2010

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In Excel 2010: Real-World Projects, author Curt Frye demonstrates five important new features in Excel 2010. Using real-world examples, Curt shows how Excel 2010 will be a beneficial upgrade for all users. He highlights the improvements in PivotTables and the visual presentation of data. The release of this important business application will give users a number of new ways to review and present information. Exercise files accompany this course.

Topics include:
  • Using Sparklines to summarize business performance
  • Customizing the Excel 2010 user interface
  • Pasting data and formatting with precision
  • Analyzing data with improved PivotTable capabilities
Subject:
Business
Software:
Excel
Author:
Curt Frye

Summarizing data visually

As the business has grown, Hansel & Petal have revised their product pulling procedures to make them more efficient. While the current process is simply a reordering of the previous steps the order runners were expected to take, it is different enough that the owners wanted to distribute a document that contains a summary of the steps and a conceptual diagram indicating how the greenhouse and nursery areas are grouped together. When the owners analyze their old process, they realize that the runners, the employees who went out into the greenhouse and nursery to pull products for orders, weren't taking efficient routes.

When Hansel & Petal designed the new process, they had a consultant build a program that would analyze the incoming orders and set a route that would allow the runner to take the most efficient path possible through the greenhouse and nursery and without overloading their cart. The diagram here on the left shows the way that the greenhouse and nursery and packing area are laid out. The Shrubs and Container Plants are out in the nursery and the Herbaceous Perennials and Cacti & Succulents are in the greenhouse. The owners created this SmartArt diagram to indicate the way things will be laid out.

To illustrate the new process, the owners created a new SmartArt image. On the Insert tab, they just clicked SmartArt. The process is a cycle, meaning that it repeats and they used their favorite Block Cycle diagram. The basic diagram that they selected has five items, which is correct. The process they're describing has exactly five steps. With the diagram in place, they can start adding text. First item and the second and they're just changing the text. All you do is click on a block and start typing.

Finally, unload cart and once the cart is unloaded, they can start the process all over again. Rather than stay with this simple blue diagram, we can change the color so it fits in with a Hansel & Petal corporate color scheme. To do that, you right-click any of the boxes, click Format Shape and then click Solid Fill, which is already selected because the box does have a solid fill. Go to Color and select the color that you want to use. This workbook has already had a number of colors applied so we can select one of the recent colors and I will select Lime.

Click Close, go to the next shape, click Format Shape, Solid Fill, click the color and we'll use blue, very close to the blue that we have there. And because the Format Shape dialog box is what's called a modal dialog box. You don't have to close it, if you want to use it for another shape. So for example, after I click this shape, I can click this shape and the dialog box changes to reflect the settings for the block that I've currently selected. So now I can change to another color, click another box, select another color, click the final box, click the final color and now click Close.

The company has been using the new procedure in a limited way for the past three months and they've collected some data that shows how much better this process is working than the previous process. That data is contained on sheet number one. This table, the Shipping Times table, contains all the packing times for the orders that were created since January 4, 2007. The table on the right contains the average time for each of those months. To illustrate how much more effectively things are working under the new system, we can create the chart that shows how the packing time has decreased.

If we are looking for just the individual orders, we can create a chart, clicking any cell on the table and creating an XY scatter chart. The XY scatter chart gives an individual data point to each measure within the table. So for example, if we looked closely enough, we could find the dot in this XY scatter chart that corresponds to the number 42, which was the packing time. You'll see that for the first several hundred orders, or 150 orders, packing times average around 50. After they revised the process for the first time, packing times were anywhere from about 40 until 13 minutes, but then under the new system, which started very recently, packing times have come down dramatically.

If you want to see how those times work as an average, then you can create a line chart. To do that, you use the data on the right side and then on the Insert tab, click Line and click the type of chart that you want. This chart appeared very quickly as did the previous XY scatter chart. Charts in Excel 2010 are much more efficient and appear and are re-rendered much more quickly than it was possible in Excel 2007. For example, if I want to move this chart to its own chart sheet, I can click the chart and then click Move Chart and select a new chart sheet.

When I click OK, the chart appears there and again, the rendering is smooth, seamless, and very quick. The new plant pulling procedure has increased the order renders efficiency significantly. When the runners aren't gathering products for the company's web and mail orders, they are free to help customers visiting the store or who call in with a question. The less time the runners spend pushing heavy carts, the more time they can spend with the store's customers.

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