Automated Reports in Excel

Excel has always been a convenient and functional tool for businesses. Many companies intend to use this application for their financial reports because it can easily calculate data and provide desirable results. The most important thing that this powerful tool can do is the ability to return automated reports with the help of other programming languages. Here are some methods that you can use to perform Excel automation. 

What is Excel Automation?

First of all, we’ll briefly examine what Excel automation can do for your business. 

There are times when you need to have reports of a dataset that is huge and complex. It may take time, money and effort to create a report on such a dataset, especially when it should be done repeatedly. So, for repeated processes, it’s better to have automation. Therefore, you won’t need to repeat the same task over and over each time you want to produce a report. That’s the most helpful part of Excel automation. 

Moreover, Excel automation not only helps you quickly render complex tasks but also gives you an accurate report. If you want to do this manually, you may encounter some errors. However, if you leave it to Excel, you will see a more precise, fast and accurate report. 

In this blog, we intend to discuss five methods and tools used to automate reports in Excel. We’ll start with VBA because it’s the basis for task automation.  

How to automate Excel reports with VBA?

One of the easiest methods of automating reports in Excel is by using VBA. The advantage of using VBA over Python is that it’s integrated into Excel. Therefore, you won’t need to install any other applications. All you need to do is to activate VBA in Excel and start to work with it. The process is very easy. 

  1. Check the Excel menus to see if there is any Develop tab available. If not:
  2. Right-click on the ribbon and choose “Customize the Ribbon”.
  3. A window opens where you can select what you want to display on the Excel ribbon. 
  4. There are two lists on this window; follow the list on the right side and select Developer
  5. Now by clicking OK, the Developer tab appears on the Excel ribbon. 
how to add the developer to the Excel ribbon
Figure 1- Excel Automation using VBA

After adding the Developer tab, you can work with VBA codes inside the Excel worksheet. But before we start to write the codes, we need to create a data set on Excel and know what our plan is and what report we want. 

Assume that you have a data set of the products in your warehouse, this dataset contains different information, such as product name, entrance data, number of products, number of orders, and so on. 

You may need a monthly report about how many products have been sold or how many products have been sold on an exact date. Since this report will not change from time to time, the best option is to create an automated report to avoid any repeated process. Therefore, anyone you hire for this job only needs to input data and won’t need to be an expert in this area. 

This was our main account of VBA automating. The next step is to get more familiar with VBA codes. Of course, you don’t need to be an expert in this field, yet you need to have a primary understanding of codes. At the same time, you need to know what codes you should write to achieve the desired result.

To make it easier and clearer for you to write VBA codes in Excel and automate a report, we have created a blog about Automated Reports in Excel using VBA that fully explains each step. 

In the coming section we are going to explain the automation process using Macros and Python. 

How to automate Excel reports using Macros

The dialogue box of the record macro and macro options in Excel
Figure 2- Automating reports in Excel using Macros.

Macros seem very similar to VBA and that’s why these two methods may be used interchangeably. But you need to know that there is a slight difference between VBA and Macros in Excel automation. In automating Excel reports using VBA, the codes are written to make Macros. Therefore, you need to be familiar with the VBA programming language to make Macros. But Macros are the codes that run on Excel to perform some routine tasks, such as automated reports in Excel. 

Using Macros to create automated reports in Excel is very easy. Macros can be placed on the Developer tab too. You can first create macros using Macro Recorder. This process records whatever you do on your sheet and saves it under a specific name. Therefore, whenever you need to go over the same process, you only need to run the macro. 


How to automate Excel reports with Python? 

Unlike VBA, Python is an open-source programming language, and it’s not integrated into Excel. In other words, you need to use another program to create automated reports in Excel. Using python might not be as easy as using VBA or Macro, but if you take your time and work on it, you can easily create reports to write Excel formulas or create a pivot table, etc. 

In this method, you first need to read the Excel file inside Python. This process is done by using different libraries inside Python. So, you need to be familiar with Python libraries, calling them, and also working with them. You can check out this article about Automating Reports in Excel Using Python to learn more about this particular method. 

How to automate Excel reports using Shell Script?

Press the Windows button + R on keyboards and type powershell_ise.exe. in the open field. After clicking OK, Windows PowerShell ISE opens
Figure 3- Automating reports in Excel with PowerShell Scripting.

Another method that can help you generate reports from Excel data is Shell Script programming. This method is also known as PowerShell Scripting, which is fairly easy to operate. Powershell is a preinstalled programming language on Windows. You only need to call it via the Run window (push the Windows button + r to open it) and browse the program by typing powershell_ise.exe. 

If you are using r operating systems other than Windows, you may need to install it first. 

Writing PowerShell scripts is easy if you learn the basics of the scripting language. You can call the Excel file and create a preferred report by the scripts you write. 

Bottom Line 

There are different methods used to create automated reports in Excel, each has a level of hardness, complexity and advantage. You can find the one that seems more practical to you in order to generate reports from Excel data. You can learn to use these tools and techniques to deal with routine tasks and reduce daunting manual tasks. Remember the added value is significant. 

If you like to save time and energy even further, you can always ask and consult an expert and delegate duties. We are here to assist you. 

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