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About Warren Schultz

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Warren Schultz from TAP Solutions has been in business since 1999 and in the programming field since 1983. Warren is a MS Excel Specialist who does Excel Support and Development. Warren also develops website that help you be found on the web and represent your company in the way you want it to be seen. For any questions please call Warren at 818-281-7628 or e-mail me at Warren@tapsolutions.net. Additional information can be found at www.TAPSolutions.nett

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Think Local

| Community | September 13, 2018

Sometimes, the best place to market yourself is in your back yard, figuratively speaking.

By targeting your local area, you put yourself in an advantageous position: You’re competing with fewer people for your services. It’s also true that by doing so, you decrease the number of potential customers, but this can be mitigated because many people want to work with people who live nearby. This gives you a better chance of being the big fish in this smaller pond.

So, you’ve decided to think local. How do you go about it? Here are some ideas:

Show everybody online you’re local. The easiest way to do that is to include your address and phone number on your website. Another way is to get listed in online directories, such as Yelp and yellowpages.com. Individual search engines, such as Google, Yahoo! and Bing, also have online directories. Just go to any search engine, type in “business directories” and get a long list. Then, go to those sites and fill out the information – making sure you again include your local address and phone number.

Show everybody you meet you’re local. Good old-fashioned networking still works. Go to local chambers of commerce, networking groups, business mixers, trade shows and professional associations and get in front of as many people as you can. Stress that you’re local and looking for local customers/clients. Make sure you have business cards and marketing materials with local addresses and phone numbers. Maybe you can team up with “power partners,” which are businesses that could refer their clients to you because you offer a service those clients need. An example: web designer, content writer, graphic designer and proofreader/editor.

Show everybody you’re an expert who’s local. Have a portfolio that shows the awesome work you’ve done for local customers/clients. Get these people to give testimonials. Give a free seminar that leaves no doubt that you are the one to go to in your field/industry. Offer some of your lower-priced services at either deep discounts or for free. Have a blog that can link to your website, or write articles for local newspapers or trade publications.

To discover what else can be done to improve your online presence, contact Warren Schultz at warren@tapsolutions.net or call him at 818-281-7628. Website: www.TAPSolutions.net

Small Business Websites

| Community | September 7, 2018

Many people believe Santa Clarita is famous for being business-friendly. Many of those businesses in and around the valley are considered small businesses. The Small Business Administration defines a small business as one with less than $7 million in annual sales and fewer than 500 employees.

That’s probably the majority of businesses in Santa Clarita.

Regardless or how small your business is, you need a good business website. Let’s assume you have one already. Is it up to date, getting good traffic and bringing in enough business that you’re always busy?

If so, you can stop reading now. Your website is in good shape and doesn’t need work.

For everyone else, you may need a website redesign. If any of the following apply, you ought to strongly consider it.

1. You’re not ranked on page one of the search engines. Ninety-five percent of online traffic comes from that first page. I can’t stress how important it is to maintain a high standing in the search engines. You can achieve this by taking advantage of search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, which I’ve written about many times before.

2. You’ve changed something about your business, but it is not reflected on your website. Companies alter and update business plans, or introduce new products and/or services, but sometimes forget to put these changes on their website. Your site is a direct reflection of your business. Make sure it is in sync with everything else you do.

3. Your site isn’t easy to navigate. Visitors to your website must be able to find what they’re looking for easily. This means concise wording that incorporates your key word phrases and other elements to make the pages more search-engine friendly.

4. Your site looks dated. Design standards, trends and best practices change and evolve over time. Currently, broken-grid layouts, illustration in the center of the page, animations and videos, variable serif fonts, floating navigation menus and mobile-friendly designs are some of the in-trends. But that will eventually change, so stay updated on what’s cool, hip, hot, trendy, etc.

If your business website suffers from a lack of enthusiasm and creativity, a website redesign can be the first step in generating excitement within the company. A redesign can show your employees, your customers and your competition that you are a force to be reckoned with in the market, and you will not go quietly.

A redesign can breathe new life into your website, transforming your web presence from being good enough to being extraordinary.

To discover what else can be done to improve your online presence, contact Warren Schultz at warren@tapsolutions.net or call him at 818-281-7628. Website: www.TAPSolutions.net

Web Design Vs. Graphic Design

| Community | August 31, 2018

Let’s get one thing straight: Website designers are not graphic designers, and vice versa. While it’s true that many aspects of graphic design can be found in website design, website designers have vastly different skills than graphic designers.

If you want to make sure you hire the right designer, read on to better understand the differences.

Graphic designers create visuals – graphics, typography and images – for specific purposes. It could be to advertise a product or service, announce an event, highlight a new logo or brochure or trumpet some custom invitation or new brand identity. It’s often very artistic and creative, but the designer has one shot to get it right. Once the design is printed, that’s it.

Website designers, on the other hand, create and modify all aspects of a website, including graphics, content and performance. Art is used to serve technology, and it’s vastly more computer-technical than graphic design because it usually involves coding and programming. A website design can evolve over time, changing to fit whatever design trends become popular.

Graphic designers need specific computer skills. These include programs by Adobe Systems Incorporated such as Photoshop, Pagemaker, Illustrator and Acrobat.

Website designers may need to know JavaScript, HTML5, jQuery, SQL and PHP, depending on the website’s needs. In other words, they have to understand the internet; a graphic designer doesn’t.

When it comes to using color, graphic designers favor the four-color format of CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black), whereas website designers use RGB (red, green blue) to reproduce a wide array of colors.

Maybe one day technology will develop to the point that the differences between the two won’t exist. But until then, it’s important to know the difference.

To discover what else can be done to improve your online presence, contact Warren Schultz at warren@tapsolutions.net or call him at 818-281-7628. Website: www.TAPSolutions.net

Spiders, Crawlers, and SEO

| Community | August 9, 2018

Some people don’t like spiders and crawlers but do like indexing, searching and algorithms. When it comes to search engine optimization, however, you should like all of the above because these are essential components to SEO. Read on to learn more.

First, some definitions: a “spider” (also known as a crawler, robot or bot) is the part of the SEO software that checks, or crawls, the content of each web page in a methodical and automated manner. According to Science Daily, these crawlers are used to create a copy of all pages you visit that a search engine will later process.

This processing is called “indexing.” Each piece of content the spider crawls over – and it’s important to remember that not everything on a website page gets crawled over – gets stored in a giant database that gets recalled whenever somebody types in a keyword into the search engine.

Every time that happens, the search engine checks the keywords for the webpage that the spider crawled over against every other webpage that has the same keywords. In other words, the search engine is measuring how relevant the keyword is related to the page. The more relevant – that is, the more often it matches – the higher the page is ranked.

Now, how does that happen? Search engines use algorithms. These are specifications that take a keyword and sort it through all of its indexed sites in which that keyword appears. Then it shows you a list of sites where that keyword exists. Hopefully, your site is on the first page.

Different algorithms look at different aspects of the page. Some check links, how often a keyword appears, meta tags, links and many others. But they all make up one giant algorithm.

The problem is the companies that run search engines are always changing their algorithms, so to keep updated, you need SEO expertise. If you don’t have it, hire somebody who does.

To discover what else can be done to improve your online presence, contact Warren Schultz at warren@tapsolutions.net or call him at 818-281-7628. Or visit his website at www.TAPSolutions.net

What You Should Do With Your Website

| Community | August 2, 2018

Sometimes, the key to having a successful website is to do things that one would think everybody would automatically do, but for some reason, it doesn’t cross their minds. Do you get referrals? Do you enlist your friends to help you? Do you take advantage of some online tools search engines offer? Do you invite a visitor to your site to actually buy something?

Those are four things everyone should do on their website but maybe don’t. Read on to learn why you should.

1. Get business referrals. If your business has a supplier, or if you work with complementary businesses, ask if you could be placed on its site as a trusted partner or preferred vendor. That way you get additional exposure. Put a link to the supplier’s site on your website. Also, ask clients if they would put you on their sites as a trusted person or preferred vendor. This helps them become a trusted business associate.

2. Use your friends. Everybody has trusted friends or business associates. Why not use them? Have these people look over your site and provide feedback. Be sure to cross gender, age and generational lines, because everybody will see your site a little differently, and their comments and suggestions could provide insights you weren’t aware of, which can lead to new business if you take that information and run with it.

3. Take advantage of what Google offers. You probably know Google is the most visited website on Earth, which means your website needs to be found on Google. One way to do this is to use the services Google offers as part of its marketing and webmaster platforms.

The most common is Google Analytics, which generates detailed statistics about visits to your website, such as tracking visitors from search engines. It also can tell you which pages are most popular and what’s not working, which will help you better target your market.

4. Include a call to action. Visitors are on your site, but they’re not contacting you, maybe because you aren’t telling them to. It might seem silly, but many would-be customers need their hands held through the entire process, so make sure that, at least at the bottom of each page, you tell them to contact you. And make it creative. Everybody has “Click here” or “Contact me” but most don’t have “Call us to find out what the IRS isn’t telling you” or “This can be yours if the price is right.”

These are only a few of the steps that will help you maintain a website that is relevant, search engine-friendly and will get your clients to ultimately contact you. To discover what else can be done to improve your online presence, contact Warren Schultz at warren@tapsolutions.net or call him at 818-281-7628. Website: www.TAPSolutions.net

Effective Websites

| Community | July 27, 2018

Want to have the most effective website for your business? There are so many things you need to do to ensure that customers can find you and then partake of your services. Read on for a few more tips.

1) Make sure your site looks good on all browsers. Use different browsers to access your website. There are so many web browsers on the market today: Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Apple Safari, Microsoft Edge, etc. You want to make sure that your website is compatible with all of them on all your platforms (desktop, laptop, tablet, phone, etc.).

Browsers are like interpreters. Let’s say you have a document you need translated into another language. If you give the same document to three people, each person’s translation might be ever so slightly different. Browsers work the same way. If they interpret the website code differently, your site may look great on Firefox and look very different on Internet Explorer. So, make sure your site looks great across different platforms and systems. A web designer has the tools to ensure that happens.

2) Keep the content on all pages current and pertinent. An updated site makes your site look fresh, more attractive to prospective customers and gives them reasons to return. Let’s say you’re advertising a sale and the sale ends on a certain date. Make sure you change the content once the sale ends so your site continues to be as up-to-date as possible.

Did you know your search engine rankings are higher when the site is current? Here are two things to do to keep your site updated:

a) Make sure all links go to where they’re supposed to. Links to websites don’t last forever, so at least once a month you should click on every link to see if it’s still working. If it’s not, fix or delete it. If a potential client tries a link and it fails, it could give that person a negative opinion of your site, and bye-bye business!

b) Insert new content frequently. You don’t have to rewrite a page/website each time. If you simply change the wording, or even a graphic element or two, your site will continue to look fresh and potentially helps your ranking with the search engines. Adding a new page also is a great idea. But make sure what you add is relevant to your site and your subject matter.

Having a website is necessary, but you need to take various steps to guarantee your website is working at maximum effectiveness.

To discover what else can be done to improve your online presence, contact Warren Schultz at warren@tapsolutions.net or call him at 818-281-7628. Or visit his website: www.TAPSolutions.net

The Basics of SEO

| Community | July 12, 2018

Every truly successful business has a website. But just having a website isn’t enough. The best websites have various attributes that make it easy to find on your favorite search engine.

You must have a complete Search Engine Optimization system, including keywords and meta tags. The following is a summary of these all-important features.

SEO is absolutely critical to your website being found on search engines. But did you know there are two components to SEO?

The first components are the words on your website. These are called keywords. You need to determine which words people are typing into search engines to find you, and if you don’t know those descriptive words, there are tools online to help you with this process. Chances are you have some idea, because your industry has certain terms everybody uses. That’s a good place to start.

One more thing about keywords: You have to seamlessly integrate them into your copy. Otherwise, search engines will know what you’re doing and punish you by ranking your pages lower or dropping them altogether (remember, the trick is to be on the first page of the search engine). So, if you have to hire a copywriter to help you, it’s a good idea.

Another component to SEO is the computer aspect. This is done by web designers, who use something called “meta tags.” These are the information about the website page that search engines and directories use to help index your site. The most basic meta tags are your site’s title, description and keywords. Make sure you have meta tags for each website page, and make sure they’re spelled the way you intend and are customized for that specific page. Improper spelling could mean a would-be customer misses your page because he spelled the keyword right and you didn’t.

SEO is only one of the steps that will help you maintain a website that is relevant, search engine-friendly and will get your clients to ultimately contact you. To discover what else can be done to improve your online presence, contact Warren Schultz at warren@tapsolutions.net or call him at 818-281-7628. Or visit his website at www.TAPSolutions.net

Excel Solutions

| Community | July 6, 2018

Microsoft Excel allows people to “think outside the box” and develop creative ways to solve problems and make their jobs – and by extension, their lives – easier because Excel saves time and money. It also eliminates costly errors.

Excel is way more than just a big calculator. It can make the complex simple, the inefficient efficient, the manual automatic and the tedious fun. Here are two more of the many ways Excel can work for you.

Repetitive jobs that took hours or days now take seconds. Say, for example, someone had to format reports for five bosses and set up graphs every day. Each boss wanted the report to show something different. Having to manually format five different reports took two hours a day – and sometimes longer because he made mistakes. With Excel, the various reports took seconds with no mistakes.

Suppose a large employment recruiting company could pull specific data from their database of potential candidates. After pulling the data, the company would have to manually score each candidate by specific criteria to see who was the best potential match. This was very time consuming.

With Excel, you could write a spreadsheet that would score all the resumes by specific criteria that the recruiter wanted. Then the recruiter could go through the resumes, starting with the best candidates and on down, saving countless hours and improving productivity and profits.

Data can be converted from different sources and formats into Excel. Say, for example, a company has six different databases. Database A is the most current, but it’s missing one critical detail, meaning somebody has to go into Database B to find that detail. If it’s not there, that person has to go through Database C, and so on, until that detail is found. Excel merged all the data into one centralized database, so anyone could easily find that detail.

There was a controller of a company with many subsidiaries that every month had to manually combine the sales, receivables and payable figures for each subsidiary. One of the big complications was an employee could work for different subsidiaries in the same pay period, and those figures needed to be combined.

The solution is in the spreadsheet. With Excel, you can create a spreadsheet that would allow the controller to upload the financials into the spreadsheet. Then it would automatically combine everything correctly and give the needed figures they needed, along with a dashboard, to show how things were going.

Become Excel-lent and see the great many things Excel can do for you.

For more information on how to find the right Excel developer, contact Warren Schultz at warren@tapsolutions.net or call him at 818-281-7628. Visit his website at TAPSolutions.net.

Working with Excel: Dashboards

| Community | June 23, 2018

One of the greatest (and lesser known) aspects of Microsoft Excel is its ability to generate dashboards. What are dashboards? Think of them as tools in which you can call up any data you want; that is, your relevant KPIs (key performance indicators) from your Excel spreadsheet, and have it presented in any form you want. It’s similar to an automobile dashboard (which is where it got its name) in that it gives you the relevant info to your particular goal, objective or process.

But one thing to remember: Dashboards are not automatic. They have to be set up to show whatever aspect of your business you need (and if you have the data for it). But they’re extremely valuable for the following reasons:

1. You will always know what’s going on with your business. Need to see growth projections for the coming fiscal year? There’s a dashboard for that. Need the data presented as a pie chart, graph or bar chart? No problem. What color do you want to show it? That’s not a problem, either. Any aspect of your business can be turned into a dashboard where with just a few keystrokes, the information pops right onto your screen. And, if there are trends or issues you need to see, dashboards can help spot them.

2. You will save time and money. Everybody who uses Excel knows that the best thing going for it is its ability to turn long, arduous tasks in which the risk of human error is great, into a program that takes seconds with no human error. With the dashboard, the report you want can be updated at any time you’d like: hourly, daily, weekly, monthly.

When things are running well and you’re making money hand over fist, you know it, because you know what’s working. When parts of the business are lacking, for example, if it’s the workers themselves, the dashboard can show that, too giving you the insight and info you need to fix it.

3. Everyone will be on the same page. The dashboard(s) can be shown to anyone in the company that needs to see the information. Everyone will be working in Excel, so there’s no problem showing the data to whoever needs it. That also means there are no costs to convert the data from some other program into Excel – another money – and time-saving aspect.

You already have Microsoft Excel as part of your Office suite. Using dashboards will only simplify your business and keep everybody involved and profitable.

Become Excel-lent and see the great many things Excel can do for you.

For more information on how to find the right Excel developer, contact Warren Schultz at warren@tapsolutions.net or call him at 818-281-7628. Visit his website at TAPSolutions.net.

More Excel Basics

| Community | June 14, 2018

Last week, I started introducing various things people need to understand about Microsoft Excel. This week, I continue that with some basic terms: “row,” “column,” “cell,” “worksheet” and “workbook.”

If you open a blank Excel sheet, you’ll see numbers going down the left side. These correspond to various rows. The letters A, B, C and so forth running across correspond to the columns.

If you pick any individual rectangle where any column or row meet, that individual rectangle is the cell, and it is here that the dates, numbers, words or formulas which make up your data are entered.

Think of cells like atoms. Atoms are the basic building blocks of life; cells are the basic building blocks of Excel.
When you first open up Excel, a blank spreadsheet appears. This is also called a worksheet. There’s a tab at the bottom that says “Sheet1,” meaning this is the first worksheet. The “+” that’s next to it allows you to add more worksheets.

When we’re all done with all our worksheets, they make up the workbook. (Notice also that when you first open Excel, the file is called “Workbook1” because this is the first workbook. When you save this workbook and give it a different name, it becomes your workbook’s name.

When we were children, we sometimes were given workbooks, which were paperback textbooks, often were issued together with hard-bound textbooks, that illustrated problems and concepts and lessons that we needed to know and understand. One big difference between workbooks and textbooks was that we could – and were expected to – write in the workbooks, but suffer the teacher’s wrath if you wrote in the textbook.
Workbooks were made up of worksheets, which were the various pages that we would write in.

The same concept applies to Microsoft Excel. The main difference between a school worksheet and an Excel worksheet is that an Excel sheet starts blank, letting you enter the data you need. And remember, there is almost no limit to the kinds of data you can enter.

Become Excel-lent and see the great many things Excel can do for you.

For more information on how to find the right Excel developer, contact Warren Schultz at warren@tapsolutions.net or call him at 818-281-7628. Visit his website at TAPSolutions.net.

The First Two Things to Understand About Excel

| Community | June 8, 2018

To understand Microsoft Excel, the first thing to understand is a spreadsheet.

You remember the old paper spreadsheets, right? They were oversized sheets that “spread” across two facing pages (which is how they were named) with columns for categories, such as expenditures, across the top; and rows, such as for invoices, down the left side. There was a place for the amount to be listed – right where the column and row intersected. Accountants and financial folks knew them well, as did anyone balancing the family books each month.

Excel takes the old paper accounting worksheet and computerizes it. There are still columns and rows where one can enter data, and that data can be numbers, words or formulas. These formulas can automatically calculate and display a value based on what’s in the other columns and rows.

Spreadsheets originally were used for basic arithmetic and math functions, but today they also perform financial and statistical functions, conditional expressions, functions to convert text and numbers, and functions that operate on strings of text.

The reason spreadsheets can do so much now is because of the second thing to understand about Excel: macros. Macros are nothing more than instructions that tell the Excel how to do something. The best thing about macros is they run processes your business needs in a fraction of the time it took you to do it by hand.

Additionally, it almost eliminates human error and the drudgery of repetitive tasks. Now, you’ll have time to do what you really want to do: make more money. Macros are shortcuts that are easy to create and store, but too many people don’t appreciate what macros can do for them, which is almost anything.

A macro can help a company determine if its employees are abusing the phone privileges. It can match and automate invoices, make billing and insurance matters a snap, and print packing slips.

Macros can take away the confusion of getting invoices from different vendors that aren’t written in the same formats, calculate how much material is needed to do a construction project, separate email from spam, figure out page breaks in a report and so much more.

Combining spreadsheets and macros gets you two of the most important and useful parts of Excel.

Become Excel-lent and see the great many things Excel can do for you.

For more information on how to find the right Excel developer, contact Warren Schultz at warren@tapsolutions.net or call him at 818-281-7628. Visit his website at TAPSolutions.net.

How to Excel in Business and Save Time and Money – Part 6

| Community | May 25, 2018

Given how business works today, if Microsoft Excel didn’t exist, somebody would have to invent it, because it is the best tool for saving businesses time and money. Read on for ways Excel streamlines schedules, standardizes professors’ grading processes, eliminates the need for an adding machine, tracks events more efficiently and creates a pre-flight checklist.

Streamlining Schedules
Problem: A large maintenance company had six different departments feeding various scheduled and emergency appointments to one department. So many departments meant the incoming data was in different formats, and critical data sometimes was missing. This resulted in scheduling nightmares. Additionally, for legal and reporting reasons, the company needed to keep logs of what was done, when and where.

Solution: Excel allows one to develop a standard input form for each department that has data validation embedded into it. When somebody needs a scheduling report, all they have to do is enter the date range. This pulls in all the data from all the sheets and produces a scheduling sheet for the date range. The company now sees what needs to be done, which makes scheduling more efficient.

Standardizing Professors’ Grades
Problem: A local college wanted to standardize the way professors tracked and assigned grades. The current method was deemed impractical and inefficient.

Solution: Excel lets you develop a customizable spreadsheet, so professors grade the way they want while still keeping all the needed record-keeping information and backup.

Eliminating the Adding Machine
Problem: A large maintenance company needed to do an analysis to find out how mechanics were spending their time and how much time was being spent on specific tasks. The clerical staff used an adding machine to figure it out.

Solution: An Excel spreadsheet can take all electronic work orders, extract the needed data and automatically create the dashboards that management wants and needs.

Tracking Events More Efficiently
Problem: A company that ran networking groups tracked events manually, but everyone involved had a different way of doing things. It was a nightmare for the corporate office to reconcile the events, payments and costs.

Solution: The first step is to meet with group and management leaders to see what each side needs. Then you can produce a spreadsheet that automatically loads the event information. At the event, use a laptop to check in people and gather additional information. After the event, email the spreadsheet to the corporate headquarters. Since all the information was in that one spreadsheet, it’s easy for corporate to gather what it needs.

Creating a Pre-flight Checklist
An aircraft charter company needed a pre-flight checklist that each crewmember could use on his or her laptop before taking a trip. It had to be simple, yet provide a warning if something was not correct.

Solution: An Excel spreadsheet is simple and quick to use, but nonetheless, includes logical warnings if something is not correct and/or missing.

For more information, contact Warren Schultz at warren@tapsolutions.net or 818-281-7628. The website is tapsolutions.net.

How to Excel in Business to Save You Time and Money, part 5

| Community | May 20, 2018

A friend who knows how to use Excel is a supremely qualified friend, indeed. Everybody should either realize how powerful and efficient Excel is – or find a friend who does.

Did you know Excel can produce promotion sheets and website data feeds? It’s true. A local importing company had some old software that handled the website data and tied it to its weekly promotional sheet that was sent to their clients. Unfortunately, the software was old, buggy and could not handle the growing business. The process was extremely time-consuming and frustrating.

Solution: The first thing to do is evaluate the current software. Talk to the staff and find what they like and what they wish and need it to do. That input allows you to better develop an Excel spreadsheet that lets the staff enter the data in one place. Then the spreadsheet automatically produces the promotional sheet along with the data feed for the website. It completely replaces the buggy, old software.

Another thing Excel can do: streamline project estimates. A local contractor wanted a way to produce an estimate while on a job site. He also wanted the spreadsheet to produce the other needed documents such as contracts and permits.

Excel allows one to enter all the needed data, then spread it to all the needed forms. This way, if a person needs a form, all he has to do is click on the proper tab, make any needed tweaks and print it out. It saves a ton of time typing in things over and over.

Finally, Excel works really well with online calendars. An education company used a calendar to keep track of all office appointments. Then two days before the appointments, staff would call every client. If the client didn’t speak English, somebody would call and confirm the appointment in that language. This proved very time consuming, and sometimes it did not get done. The staff decided they needed an automated process, but no one knew how to have their calendar communicate with their auto-caller software.

Excel to the rescue! The solution is to write a spreadsheet that is able to accept the calendar data and convert it into a file that could easily be uploaded into the auto-caller software, along with time and codes to tell it what language to speak.

Become Excel-lent and see the great many things Excel can do for you.

For more information on how to find an Excel developer, contact Warren Schultz at warren@tapsolutions.net or call him at 818-281-7628.

How to Excel in Business to Save You Time and Money, part 4

| Community | May 11, 2018

Did you know that Excel sorts data, processes data and compiles data? As I’ve said in previous articles, there’s virtually nothing Excel can’t do with data.

Once, a manufacturer received a multi-store report with no page breaks from a vendor. The manufacturer needed separate pages for each store, but he wanted to stop manually going through the reports and putting in page breaks before printing them.

The solution to that problem was to write a macro that went through the large report and logically figured out the page breaks according to the store codes and line breaks.

Excel also works really well with data over different worksheets. A client was given a spreadsheet with more than 200 worksheets with about 30 data elements on each sheet. Her task was to combine all the information into one sheet so it could be used as a master roster. She didn’t want to copy and paste each field, which she estimated would take a week.
By coming up with a formula that combined all the data in seconds, it saved her hours and hours of copying and pasting each cell.

Finally, if the data is repetitive, Excel can process it. A client had some extremely large data files that he got from his ongoing clients. This data was uploaded into the main system to update information. The problem was the clients often supplied invalid data, causing the updates not to load and causing delays in processing the information.

By writing a spreadsheet that reviewed all the data files and showed all the errors before they went into the main system, the files were cleaned up before the main load, thus saving countless reloads.

For more information on how to find the right web developer, contact Warren Schultz at warren@tapsolutions.net or call him at 818-281-7628.

How to Excel in Business to Save You Time and Money, part 3

| Community | May 5, 2018

I continue with Part 3 of the various ways Excel can save you time and money.

Excel transfers data into MS Word files. An online retailer downloaded customer orders into an Excel file. Then an employee created packing slips by copying and pasting all the pertinent information from the Excel file into a Microsoft Word template. The employee also had to manually change the customers’ formatting to make it compatible with the company’s style. The retailer’s manual conversion and correction process was extremely time-consuming.

The key is to create an Excel program that reads the orders, automatically corrects the formats and transfers the data to packing slips. The new process can take seconds to convert the Excel format orders into Word packing slips instead of minutes, or even hours.

Excel calculates estimates. A window blind company owner never knew exactly how much material he needed for any single project. He would estimate the amount and put that figure into Excel. When he estimated too much, it cost him money for materials he didn’t use. When he estimated too little, it delayed the project’s completion because he had to get more material from his supplier. Plus, he used Excel as if it was just a paper chart.

By using Excel, one can create a worksheet for each order as part of a workbook for orders to suppliers. After all the individual orders are entered into the workbook as worksheets, the new Excel workbook can calculate how much material is needed for the entire group of orders. This worksheet will save the company time and money, because the owner can order the right amount of material from his suppliers and allocate it correctly to the customers’ jobs.

Excel sorts data. A large retailer used a contact form on its website to solicit inquiries and received many. When the staff went to read the emails, there was a large amount of spam mixed in. The staff member responsible for the incoming emails had to weed out the junk mail and copy the legitimate inquiries into Excel spreadsheets. The retailer needed to find a way to sort the emails and to speed up the intake and distribution process.

By writing and installing a code into the retailer’s website, emails that were sent from the website link now automatically carry the code so they are recognized and kept on the retailer’s email processor. Emails from spam and sources outside the website don’t have the code, so they’re kicked out.

As part of that solution, it’s a good idea to also write an Excel macro that goes through all the email and deletes the junk mail that doesn’t have the inquiry code, thus eliminating the need for manual review. Next, the macro sorts the information from the emails and distributes it to the appropriate sheets based upon the type of the inquiry. The user could then quickly and easily send the inquiries to the appropriate responders throughout the company. The new process saves many hours and greatly improves the company’s response time.

For more information, you can contact web developer Warren Schultz at warren@tapsolutions.net or call him at 818-281-7628.

Topic: How to Excel in Business to Save You Time and Money Part 2

| Community | April 20, 2018

by Warren Schultz

Last week, I started to describe the various things one can do to save time and money using Microsoft Excel. But I only scratched the surface. Here are some more, following the same format of introducing the problem and then the solution:

Excel automates accounts receivables. A large manufacturing company did business with a large multi-store retailer. Each shipment to each store created a receivable invoice. There were thousands of receivable invoices each month. When the stores sent a check, they also sent an electronic report of which invoices they were paying. The manufacturer was then manually allocating the payments to clear the invoices and balance the accounts.

The manufacturer needed to automate allocating and balancing the payments. The solution was to write a routine in Excel that read the customer’s electronic reports and converted the data into a format compatible with the manufacturer’s system. This allowed the payments to be uploaded into the receivables system where they were matched up and cleared automatically. The program also created discrepancy reports of the items that didn’t match, so the company could address problems much quicker.

Excel automates billing processes. A consulting firm required its employees to manually fill out monthly billing reports that went to the billing department, which were then hand-entered into the system. This resulted in a lot of wasted time and paper. Sometimes the consultants forgot to include some information on the report, resulting in incomplete billing for the month, or entries were incorrect. Either way, it resulted in lost revenue.

What was first needed was to create a master report sheet that consultants could fill out electronically while they were at the client›s office or at the end of the day. The report could be e-mailed at any time. The next step was to create an Excel program that combined and re-formatted all the billing reports into a file that could be uploaded directly into the billing system to generate invoices. The Excel programs made it much easier to bill clients and keep monthly reports current. It also prevented errors and saved time by eliminating the manual copying of consultants’ reports into the invoicing system.

Excel synchronizes data and finds errors. An HR department had problems keeping its employees’ insurance reports in sync with the insurance company’s reports because each company used a different data format and data structure. Because of the different formats and structure, the HR staff had to manually reconcile the reports of more than 1,000 employees. The company needed to find a way to automate the reconciliation and eliminate errors.

Excel has a program that matched employees’ names and addresses with their insurance packages, and highlighted inconsistencies between the two reports. The new program was also capable of reading both formats for items like dates and abbreviations. After implementing the new program, all the HR staff had to do was quickly glance at the spreadsheet and deal with the discrepancies or issues indicated by the report combined with the data.

For more information, you can contact web developer contact Warren Schultz at warren@tapsolutions.net or call him at 818-281-7628.

How to Excel in Business to Save You Time and Money

| Community | April 12, 2018

by Warren Schultz

Microsoft Excel is one of the most underused tools business professionals have at their fingertips. If they would just take advantage of Excel’s benefits, they would have more free time to do what they want. People who use Excel save more time and money and gain a competitive edge on their competition.

It is so versatile that it can be tweaked to work with almost any project. It can be used for things as simple as a calculator to something as complex as a full accounting system.

Some of the things Excel can be used for to save you time and money are:

Merging Lists from Different Sources into A Single Spreadsheet. 

A retail call-center manager needed to monitor employee phone usage and determine if any staff was abusing phone privileges. The manager needed to combine the lists of inbound and outbound calls that he had with the customer phone number information from corporate headquarters. The manager needed to find a faster way to merge the data than manually inputting the information.

TAP Solutions created a spreadsheet using an Excel macro that combined the two sources of information and compared the data. Phone numbers that didn’t match up with the customer list were separated out to determine if the employees were abusing their phone privileges. The new spreadsheet also enabled the manager to see the phone activity in each division. This information allowed the company to balance the call load throughout the call center and saved them overtime costs.

Converting PDF Files Into Excel. 

A manufacturer received client orders in large PDF documents. The company had to print them out, then manually enter the information into the system. The manual process required many hours and contained numerous errors.

Under the new TAP Solutions system, the PDF files were converted into text files that could be read by Excel and turned into spreadsheets. The Excel format enabled the company to directly upload the orders into their processing system. The company could also then analyze the data and import and export the information as needed. Eliminating the manual data entry step resulted in much faster, more accurate order processing.

For more information, contact Warren Schultz at warren@tapsolutions.net or call him at 818-281-7628.

How to Build a Good Excel Spreadsheet

| Community | June 18, 2016

A well thought out and well-built Excel spreadsheet can be worth far more than the cost of the labor required to create it. On the flipside, a poorly designed Excel spreadsheet can create losses many times over that cost.

Here are some principles and techniques to use in creating strong, functional spreadsheets that earn their keep and work to your best advantage. Please note that the comments in this article are intended to serve as basic guidelines and suggestions, not hard and fast rules.

In approaching spreadsheet creation, there are several points to emphasize. First, no set of principles or standards can guarantee freedom from error. The design, maintenance and operation of spreadsheets are still carried out by people.

The business environment in which spreadsheets are created, maintained and used can be just as important as the content of the spreadsheet. A spreadsheet may not only convey facts and figures, but also attitudes, opinions, biases and projections. Don’t forget that users may “read between the lines” in a spread sheet just as much as they may do in a letter. Make sure that your spreadsheet represents your best practices.

Before starting, satisfy yourself that a spreadsheet is the appropriate tool for the job.

Determine what role the spreadsheet will play in your business, and plan your spreadsheet standards and processes accordingly. If your company does not already have one, adopt a standard for your organization and stick to it.

Make sure the creator of the spreadsheet knows your company’s style, and understands the spreadsheet’s purpose. Is it for sales? For accounting? Inventory? Scheduling? Many spreadsheets are used by several departments. Make sure the spreadsheet can be read and utilized by all who will use it and that it is consistent with your company’s practices or your personal needs if you are setting a spreadsheet up for your home finances.

Ensure that everyone involved in the creation or use of the spreadsheet has an appropriate level of knowledge and competence. Give the spreadsheet users an opportunity to provide input sooner, rather than later, to save on revisions. Don’t limit input to just upper management. All levels of users may have important contributions to make that will benefit the company as a whole.

As the creator (author) of the spreadsheet you need to know both the program and the needs of the company to incorporate the information into the spreadsheet. Know who can help and where additional information may be obtained. Make sure the data is accurate and current. Consider if you need to incorporate past history. Perhaps the author will need to bring in raw data from different sources and formats into the new Excel spreadsheet. Check to make sure the spreadsheet will be compliant with regulatory laws if applicable.

Consider if data from different program sources and formats will need to be converted into the Excel spreadsheet. Also look at security, privacy and formatting issues when converting the inserted material. Metadata may need to be removed. Tables, for example, may be shared by Word and Excel.

Identify the audience. Think about who the readers and users of your spreadsheet are and will be. If a spreadsheet is intended to be understood and used by others, the design should facilitate this. The sophistication levels of internal and external audiences may be different. Be careful in using abbreviations, nicknames, acronyms, and terms of art. Sometimes plain language is best, or terms should be explained or spelled out the first time they are used, but can be shortened after that. Clarity saves time and eliminates misunderstandings.

Organizing the spreadsheet in a logical manner aids in efficiency. Can the reader quickly find the information he or she needs? Do you want to organize the spreadsheet chronologically, alphabetically, by topic or by the steps in a process? If the spreadsheet covers new territory, perhaps it requires instructions. If the spreadsheet has many parts, a table of contents, index or dashboard will help users find the information they need faster. Make sure that the spreadsheet is readily searchable.

Design for longevity. How far into the future will this data be used? Think of it as a life expectancy. A well-planned spreadsheet should allow for growth and expansion. Also think about possible links to other spreadsheets or data sources.

Focus on the required outputs. Separate and clearly identify inputs, workings and outputs. A color coding scheme for the cells may be helpful here.

It is important to visualize the final product and the user’s environment. Consider if the data is to be produced or represented in the form of charts, graphs or tables. Will the spreadsheet compare data from one year to the next? How will the spreadsheet be published (on paper, electronically, or be sent to another program) may also impact the creator’s decisions.

Be structurally consistent. Check to see that the styles match up throughout the document and that it conforms to company practices. If there are many columns, consider republishing headers on each page so the reader doesn’t have to flip back to identify the column on subsequent pages. It may seem unimportant, but putting the document date, edition, and page numbers in easy to find places helps users know if they are in the most current version and helps them find an older one when needed.

Simplicity is golden. Avoid using advanced features where simpler features could achieve the same result.

Consider if Macros can help. Macros are instructions that tell the Excel how to do something. One of the best things about macros is they can run processes a business needs in a fraction of the time it may take someone to do by hand.
Be consistent in the use of formulas. Keep formulas as short and simple as possible. Don’t embed anything that might change or need to be changed in a formula. Set formulas up in specific cells and reference them.

Perform a calculation once and then refer back to that calculation. Try not to repeat calculations that can be referred back to a single cell.

Have a system of backup and version control. This should be applied consistently within an organization.

Rigorously test the workbook – have more than one person test it. Also test both the normal and abnormal limits of the spreadsheet to make sure it can withstand unforeseen circumstances. Double check your work. Make sure every link routes to the correct cells. For example, does each formula cover the correct range of cells and calculate the data accurately?

Build in checks, controls and alerts from the outset and during the course of spreadsheet design. Be sure you have appropriate error handling so that if something does go wrong, the entire spreadsheet is not lost or corrupted.

Take the user’s comfort into consideration. Ensure that the worksheets print out cleanly and are formatted properly for the paper size and printer. Can they be read without squinting? Are the page breaks in places where they keep information together that needs to be together, or do they split important pieces of information apart? Do portions of the spreadsheet that may have been copied in match up with the new material, or does your spreadsheet have that “cut and paste” look? Make sure all the workbook pages in your document are clearly marked.

Protect parts of the workbook that are not supposed to be changed by users. Keep a back-up copy. Make sure someone else in the company can maintain and update the spreadsheet if the creator is not available.

Warren Schultz is the owner of TAP Solutions, a company providing spreadsheet design, troubleshooting and data conversion. You can reach Warren at (818) 281-7628 or visit http://www.TAPSolutions.net.

Teaming Up Web Designer and Copywriter

| Community | February 19, 2016

Anyone who wants to succeed in business today needs a website. But what do you need? What will it look like? What features are needed? How many pages should it be? The questions are nearly endless, and if you try to do everything yourself, you’ll likely fail. You might start by making a common mistake and use a free website. Don’t do this, because you’re limited in what you can do, and you don’t own what’s on the site.

The best way to go about it is to hire professionals who know their way around a website. You need two: a web designer and a copywriter.

First, the web designer. This person can help you navigate your way through building the site. A web designer knows there is an order to creating, building and maintaining a website. A web designer knows you need a domain name, a hosting company and a platform, and he/she will know the best ways to get these needs met for the most reasonable cost.

Next, a web designer can help you create the look you want for your site. There are many templates out there from which to choose, but a web designer also can take your ideas and turn them into real web pages. Got a color scheme or certain graphic elements you want? Do you want a blog to accompany your site? Do you want pictures or video? Where will you put the copy, the written words? A web designer can make everything happen.

Once you have ideas, it’s time to put them into words. This is where the copywriter comes in. A good copywriter meets with you to get to know you and your company – its message, mission statement, and the products and services you’re offering. What do you want to say on each page? What tone do you want to use? A copywriter creates the content.

Make sure you hire a copywriter who knows how to use Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s unpaid results. A copywriter uses keywords (which are the words search engines are looking for) and seamlessly inserts them into the copy for the search engines to find. Ideally, your site will come up first when someone types the keywords into the search engine.

Here is where a web designer again comes into play. While the copywriter uses keywords as part of a page’s SEO, the web designer uses computer code to tell the search engines what your keywords are. A web designer also submits your website to the search engines so they know your site exists – and he/she does it every time you make a change to your site.

And you will have to make changes to your site, because one of the factors search engines use to rank pages is how fresh the content is. You need new graphic elements (again, the web designer can place them) and/or new words (which the copywriter can provide).

Finally, there is one more advantage to using a web designer. He or she can run programs in which you see how high your pages are ranked on the search engines. The goal is to be number one, so if you aren’t in the top 10 (meaning you’re not on the search engine’s first page, decreasing the likelihood anyone’s going to find you), a web designer can make suggestions. Maybe you need new graphic elements. Maybe you need to try different keywords, at which time the copywriter comes back into play and helps you find those keywords that will lead you to a number one ranking.

To summarize: You need a web designer for:
the domain name, hosting company, platform
the overall look of your website, including any future changes or additional pages
search engine optimization (the programming aspect)
sending your websites to the various search engines
running programs to see how your websites are registering on search engines

You need a copywriter for:
the content (words) for each page that will have content on it, including future changes
search engine optimization (the keyword aspect)

For more information, call Warren at (818) 281-7628 or visit www.TAPSolutions.net.
Class Gives Beginners Lesson in Excel

Residents looking for an opportunity to improve their computer skills may be interested in an upcoming class by a local tech expert. Warren Schultz of TAP Solutions is holding a class called “What Microsoft Excel Can Do For You” on March 5, 2016.

The beginning level one-day, three-hour course will teach students how to create and modify basic worksheets, how to make Excel perform calculations, and offer step-by-step instruction for basic formatting and editing of worksheets. Attendees will also learn how use of Excel can save them time and money.

The class is offered on Saturday, March 5, 2016 from 9 a.m.-12 noon at Barrister Executive Suites, Inc., 27240 Turnberry Lane, suite #200 in Valencia. Students should bring their laptops with Excel 2010 installed. Also, 2007/2013 is acceptable for the course. Register by calling (818) 281-7628 or visit www.TAPSolutions.net and use the payment link. Cost is $50 in advance or $60 at the door.

When to Get Your Small Business Website Redesigned

| Community | January 16, 2016

Not every business website needs an overhaul. Some (maybe even yours) are up-to-date, getting good traffic and bringing in a steady flow of business. How can you tell? Here are some factors to consider. You may need to redesign your website if:

You’re not ranked on page one of the search engines.

It’s important to maintain a high standing in the search engines. You can achieve this by taking advantage of search engine optimization (SEO) techniques.

You’re not getting enough business through your website.

Find out how simple fixes can generate new leads and produce more sales online.

You’ve changed something about your business, but it is not reflected on your website.

Companies alter and update business plans, or introduce new products and/or services, but sometimes forget to put these changes on their websites. Your site is a direct reflection of your business. Make sure it is in sync with everything else you do.

Your site isn’t easy to navigate.

Visitors to your website must be able to find information easily. This means concise wording that incorporates your key word phrases and other elements to make the pages more search-engine friendly.

Your site looks dated.

Design standards, trends and best practices change and evolve over time. In addition, it is important to update your content, search engine accessibility, overall layout, etc. on a consistent basis.

You can’t easily update the content on your site.

If you still have a website that only your web designer has access to, you may want to consider a content management system that allows you to go into your site and fix errors, update information and trumpet the new products/services you’re offering.

Your site isn’t appearing on the new web browsers.

It seems that new browsers appear out of nowhere daily and in a short time gain traction. Are you on all of them? If you’re not, customers can’t find you.

Your business website suffers from a lack of enthusiasm and creativity, resulting in low results.

A website redesign can be the first step in generating excitement within the company. A redesign can show your employees, your customers and your competition that you are a force to be reckoned with in the market, and you will not go quietly.

A redesign can breathe new life into your website, transforming your web presence from being good enough to being extraordinary.

Warren Schultz is the owner of Tap Solutions. You can contact him at warren@tapsolutions.net or call 818-281-7628. The business website is TAPSolutions.net.

How a Copywriter Can Improve Your Website

| Community | July 23, 2015

Everybody needs a website. Without one, you can’t compete in today’s economy. But, just having an online presence isn’t enough. You need to know what to write on a website: the right words to convey the message you want to send customers – existing and potential ones. You need an Internet copywriter who can not only turn a phrase, but also write copy that will say exactly what you want to say.

Working with a copywriter can greatly improve your website in the following ways:

Your website will be clean. The Internet is full of websites with typographical and factual errors, as well as writing that is so unprofessional you wonder how those companies ever got off the ground, let alone stay in business.

A copywriter knows the language and will write copy that is free of grammar, spelling and punctuation errors. The result: no poor writing that might alienate new or existing customers/clients.

Your website will be found online. A copywriter knows that the key to being found online is using the concept of Search Engine Optimization. It’s a type of writing in which keywords are used within the copy that will be found and ranked by the search engines. A copywriter seamlessly integrates the keywords you want to use into the copy in such a way that the search engines won’t eliminate your site from being ranked.

Your website will attract and keep new customers/clients. Whether it’s the copy on the home page or a blog related to your site, a copywriter will write copy that will attract people to your website, thus increasing the chances they take advantage of your products/services. Once you’ve won them, a copywriter can write about the great, new and wonderful things happening, thus keeping them informed.
Your website will accurately depict your message or story. One of the worst possible scenarios is for your website to inaccurately inform each visitor what you’re about, what your company is about, what your products and services are about, or what your message is. Websites also tell the story behind the company, and it would be a nightmare if it wasn’t told in the most engaging, creative and correct way. A copywriter ensures your story or message will remain on point.

For more information call Warren at 818-281-7628 or go to www.TAPSolutions.net.

How a web designer and copywriter can team up to make your new website better.

| Uncategorized | July 11, 2015

How a web designer and copywriter can team up to make your new website better.

Anyone who wants to succeed in business today needs a website. But what do you need? What will it look like? What features are needed? How many pages should it be? The questions are nearly endless, and if you try to do everything yourself, you’ll likely fail. You might start by making a common mistake and use a free website. Don’t do this because you’re limited in what you can do and you don’t own what’s on the site.

The best way to go about it is to hire professionals who know their way around a website. You need two: a web designer and a copywriter.

First, the web designer. This person can help you navigate your way through building the site. A web designer knows there is an order to creating, building and maintaining a website. A web design knows you need a domain name, a hosting company and a platform, and he will know the best ways to get these needs met for the most reasonable cost.

Next, a web designer can help you create the look you want for your site. There are many templates out there from which to choose, but a web designer also can take your ideas and turn them into real web pages. Got a color scheme or certain graphic elements you want? Do you want a blog to accompany your site? Do you want pictures or video? Where will you put the copy, the written words? A web designer can make everything happen.

Once you have ideas, it’s time to put them into words. This is where the copywriter comes in. A good copywriter meets with you to get to know you and your company – its message, mission statement, and the products and services you’re offering. What do you want to say on each page? What tone do you want to use? A copywriter creates the content.

Make sure you hire a copywriter who knows how to use Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s unpaid results. A copywriter uses keywords (which are the words search engines are looking for) and seamlessly inserts them into the copy for the search engines to find. Ideally, your site will come up first when someone types in the keywords into the search engine.

Here is where a web designer again comes into play. While the copywriter uses keywords as part of a page’s SEO, the web designer uses computer code to tell the search engines what your keywords are. A web designer also submits you website to the search engines so they know your site exists – and he does it every time you make a change to your site.

And you will have to make changes to your site because one of the factors search engines use to rank pages is how fresh the content is. You need new graphic elements (again, the web designer can place them) and/or new words (which the copywriter can provide).

Finally, one more advantage to using a web designer: He or she can run programs in which you see how high your pages are ranked on the search engines. The goal is to be No. 1, so if you aren’t in the top 10 (meaning you’re not on the search engine’s first page, decreasing the likelihood anyone’s going to find you), a web designer can make suggestions. Maybe you need new graphic elements. Maybe you need to try different keywords, at which time the copywriter comes back into play and helps you find those keywords that will lead you to a No. 1 ranking.

To summarize: You need a web designer for:
–the domain name, hosting company, platform
–the overall look of your website, including any future changes or additional pages
–search engine optimization (the programming aspect)
–sending your websites to the various search engines
–running programs to see how your websites are registering on search engines

You need a copywriter for:
–the content (words) for each page that will have content on it, including future changes
–search engine optimization (the keyword aspect)

For more information please call Warren 818 281 7628 or go to www.TAPSolutions.net.

How a Copywriter can improve your website

| Uncategorized | July 11, 2015

How a Copywriter can improve your website

Everybody needs a website. Without one, you can’t compete in today’s economy. But just having an online presence isn’t enough. You need to know what to write on a website: the right words to convey the message you want to send customers – existing and potential ones. You need an Internet copywriter who can not only turn a phrase, but also write copy that will say exactly what you want to say.

Working with a copywriter can greatly improve your website in the following ways:

* Your website will be clean. The Internet is full of websites with typographical and factual errors as well as writing that is so unprofessional you wonder how those companies ever got off the ground, let alone stay in business. A copywriter knows the language and will write copy that is free of grammar, spelling and punctuation errors. The result: no poor writing that might alienate new or existing customers/clients.

* Your website will be found online. A copywriter knows that the key to being found online is using the concept of Search Engine Optimization. It’s a type of writing in which keywords are used within the copy that will be found and ranked by the search engines. A copywriter seamlessly integrates the keywords you want to use into the copy in such a way that the search engines won’t eliminate your site from being ranked.

* Your website will attract and keep new customers/clients. Whether it’s the copy on the home page or a blog related to your site, a copywriter will write copy that will attract people to your website, thus increasing the chances they take advantage of your products/services. Once you’ve won them, a copywriter can write about the great, new and wonderful things happening, thus keeping them informed.

* Your website will accurately depict your message or story. One of the worst possible scenarios is for your website to inaccurately inform each visitor what you’re about, what your company is about, what your products and services are about, or what your message is. Websites also tell the story behind the company, and it would be a nightmare if it wasn’t told in the most engaging, creative and correct way. A copywriter ensures your story or message will remain on point.

For more information please call Warren 818 281 7628 or go to www.TAPSolutions.net.

The Benefits of Working in an Excel World

| News | June 13, 2015

Believe it or not, Microsoft Excel can be as enjoyable to use as a trip to Disneyland. It is a wonderful spreadsheet tool that people can use to make their jobs – and by extension, their lives – easier, because Excel saves time and money. It also eliminates costly errors. Excel is way more than just a big calculator. It can make the complex simple, the inefficient efficient, the manual automatic and the tedious fun. Here are some of the many ways Excel can work for you. Repetitive jobs that took hours or days now take seconds. Say, for example, someone had to format reports for five bosses and set up graphs every day. Each boss wanted the report to show something different. Having to manually format five different reports took two hours a day – and sometimes longer, because he made mistakes. With Excel, the various reports take seconds with no mistakes. Raw data can be manipulated and assembled into just about any useful way. A human resources department had a problem keeping its employees’ insurance reports in sync with the insurance company’s reports, because each used a different data format and data structure. This caused the HR staff to have to manually reconcile the reports of more than 1,000 employees. This took time, and that didn’t take into account the occasional error. With Excel, all the HR staff has to do is quickly glance at the spreadsheet and the errors will be easily seen. Data can be converted from different sources and formats into Excel. Say, for example, a company has six different databases. Database A is the most current, but it’s missing one critical detail, meaning somebody has to go into Database B to find that detail. If it’s not there, that person has to go through Database C, and so on, until that detail is found. Excel merges all the data into one centralized database, so anyone can easily find that detail. Business aspects are easier to keep track of. A payroll manager had to input each of 50 employees’ timecards and now didn’t have to because Excel combined all the information into one sheet. Now, whatever the manager needs, be it number of overtime hours, or hours per project, is easily called up into that one sheet. Human error disappears. Once, a sales clerk had to add up the total sales by department. But, he added the individual totals and the subtotals instead of just the subtotals, so he thought the company’s sales had doubled. He looked really bad when he had to tell his boss the truth. In summary, Excel allows people to “think outside the box” and develop creative ways to solve problems that make their lives easier, because Excel saves time and money.

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