You have just built the perfect Excel model. It contains a wealth of data and analysis that can be used to help support critical decisions. You have added charts, summaries, and pivot tables to help tell a story and illustrate trends. Now all that is left is to get this great information into the hands of stakeholders and decision makers, and quickly! There are a lot of options when it comes to presenting your Excel analysis, and each of them comes with its pros and cons.

Option 1: Email the Excel file

Excel share file

Perhaps the fastest way to share your Excel analysis is to simply email it to the consumer. Excel even has a share feature built-in to facilitate this activity.

Using this approach, you can either share the file as an attachment or send a link to the latest version of the file located in OneDriveTeams, or SharePoint. However, there are several drawbacks to sending around Excel files:

  • The user receiving the document needs to understand the structure of the file and what analysis is most important.
  • There is typically no commentary in the Excel file to help explain the analysis and how it should be interpreted.
  • If the consumer has edit access, they can alter the Excel file and potentially break the logic or cause errors in the document.
  • As Excel is updated and new versions are saved, it can be difficult to ensure that everyone is working off the same version of the Excel file.

Because of the limitations of sharing Excel files directly, most companies convert the Excel analysis to a more formal presentation before sharing with stakeholders.

Option 2: Create a PowerPoint Presentation

Paste Excel link into PowerPoint

PowerPoint is Microsoft’s marquee solution for business presentations. It allows you to rapidly create a professional presentation with text, graphics, and of course your Excel analysis. You can even add animations, smart art, and media to help tell the story and create a “wow” factor.

While PowerPoint is a powerful presentation medium, there are a number paint points associated with sharing Excel analysis in a PowerPoint file:

  • It takes a considerable amount of time and energy to copy and paste Excel visuals into PowerPoint. This is very manual activity and distracts from higher value-add tasks.
  • When Excel changes, more manual work is required to keep the PowerPoint file in sync. For team projects, it becomes even more challenging to keep track of what has changed and therefore needs to be updated in PowerPoint. Microsoft has tried to solve this pain point by providing the ability to link or embed Microsoft Excel objects inside of PowerPoint. While this can be helpful in some cases, you do not receive alerts when updates are available, the links between the documents are easily broken or become outdated with new Excel file versions, and embedded objects greatly bloat the size of PowerPoint files. Because of these limitations we see very limited usage of these features.
  • It is difficult to understand where the Excel content originated. If the consumer has a question about the analysis, they are often forced to reach out to the creator of the Excel file to investigate since they cannot easily see where the information is coming from.

Option 3: Power BI Dashboards & Reports

Publish Excel to Power BI

Over the past decade, business Intelligence and analytics capabilities have evolved tremendously and are transforming the way companies are able to store, analyze, and present data. One emerging trend is real-time dashboards to provide executives and decision makers a live view into the health and performance of their business. Enter Microsoft’s solution, Power BI.

Power BI an incredibly powerful collection of services, apps, and connectors and has seen a huge uptick in adoption over the past several years. Using Power BI is a no-brainer when you are working with large, structured datasets and want to provide powerful analytics and visualizations to your stakeholders. However, we often use Excel to create content that is not structured enough for Power BI to easily consume, such as financial models, making it difficult to rely on Power BI’s native functionality as the only way to present your work.

Power BI tries to solve this by allowing users to import Excel data to use as a data source and/or directly embed an Excel chart in a Power BI dashboard. You can also publish an Excel file to Power BI and use the data as a data source or pin a range to a dashboard. While these features can be useful, there are several limitations:

  • To use Excel as a data source, your data needs to be structured in a tabular, normalized format. This limits the compatibility between Power BI and a lot of Excel modeling and analysis, such as forecasts where months or years are listed as column headers.
  • There is no way to display Excel visuals directly on a Power BI report. Currently only dashboards are supported.
  • It is time consuming to setup new reports and connections from Excel, specifically on projects that use multiple Excel files.
  • Many business analysts are not trained on how to user Power BI, DAX queries, and other complicated/technical features.
  • Power BI licenses are not included in Microsoft 365, resulting in limited access across an organization.

Option 4: Sway

One of the newest additions to the Microsoft suite of business tools is Sway. Sway is an online tool that lets you create slick, highly responsive presentations that look great on any device. It also enables collaboration and sharing across the organization.

Trying to embed Excel analysis into Sway is a bit tricky. It can be achieved by copying and pasting “Embed” HTML code from Excel into the Sway document. It is pretty a rigid process and not a great user experience.  

While Sway has a high cool factor, we do not currently see significant adoption of Sway for Excel-based business presentations.

Option 5: TackleBox

We developed TackleBox to solve many of the pain points and limitations that people experience every day when trying to present their Excel analysis. TackleBox enhances your current process by allowing you to:

  • Link and organize all your Excel and PowerPoint files related to a particular project. Share and collaborate on the files all in one place.
  • Automate the linkage of Excel to PowerPoint and update your content with the click of a button.
  • Receive notifications when PowerPoint content becomes out-of-date.
  • Create real-time dashboards from multiple Excel files and Power BI reports in seconds.
  • Identify and analyze changes between versions of Excel files so that you can quickly update your presentations and get the right information to your stakeholders ASAP.

Contact us to learn more about how TackleBox can save you time, reduce errors, and transform the way you are able to present your Excel analysis. View our plans to find the best option for your organization.

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