Excel abilities are useful in many areas of business, and in the supply chain, excel is used for data evaluation, calculations, inventory tracking, demand planning, scheduling, and many other functions.

For the supply chain professional, Excel abilities are a must-have for breaking down large or complex tasks into smaller bite-sized pieces.

Below is a shortlist of six essential Excel skill types that supply chain professionals should have if they want to advance their careers.

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1) Pivot Tables

Pivot Tables make it simple to evaluate large information sets, summarize data, and identify key insights. To generate a Pivot Table, highlight the cells with the desired information and select “PivotTable” from the Insert tab. Then, select the fields you want in the table and drag them to the desired areas.

2) If Function

With the If function, you can quickly make logical comparisons to produce an outcome based on specified conditions. This Excel function allows for two possible outcomes: one based on conditions being met (“true”) and one based on conditions not being met (“false”). A ‘nested’ If function allows for multiple outcomes by creating a decision tree.

3) Relative Reference Cells

Produced by default, relative references change their value when moved relative to the change in rows and columns. For instance, if the formula “=A1+B1” is copied from row 1 to row 2, the formula becomes “=A2+B2”.

Relative references are particularly useful whenever the same calculation has to be repeated across many rows and/or columns.

4) Create Charts

Made with just a few clicks, Excel charts offer an easy way to visualize hard numbers. Charts can be used to contrast multiple data sets relative to one another. While several different types of Excel charts (pie, bar, etc.) might suit a given set of data, you should be adept at picking a chart type that does the best job of showing the data the way you want it to be seen.

5) Conditional Formatting

If you would like spotlight explicit trends in a data set, Conditional Formatting allows you to highlight cells of interest or specific values using colors and icons. To use this tool, select the desired cells, click Format>Conditional Format to open a dialog box allows you to set desired formatting conditions.


Short for ‘vertical lookup,’ VLOOKUP is a function that enables the search of a column for a certain value so that a related value can be returned. To use VLOOKUP, select the cell for the formula output, enter the cell with the value you want to find, enter the range of columns and finally enter the number of the column where the related value is found. The formula should then output a result based on your search parameters.

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