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Top Excel Skills to Boost Your Supply Chain Career

In the supply chain industry, Microsoft Excel is used for storing data, analysis, inventory, demand planning and scheduling.

Clearly, strong Excel abilities are a must for anyone working in this industry, and while many people think the program is easy to grasp – most people who use Excel don’t take full advantage of its functionality.

Below is a shortlist of key Excel skills that supply chain professionals should have in their locker.


PivotTables facilitate assessment and summarization of large sets of information. They are basically summary tables that allow you to add up, average and carry out other calculations based on the factors you specify.

To produce a PivotTable, highlight the target cells and pick “PivotTable” from the Insert tab. Then, choose what cells you want in the table and drag them to a new location.

If and IFError Functions

The IF formula allows you to input conditional statements that output a ‘true’ value when specified conditions are met and a ‘false’ value when conditions are not met. The IfError function is a version of the If function that allows you to return a particular value if the entered conditions result in a logical error.

Flash Fill

Flash Fill resolves a problem that had frustrated many Excel users for years: extracting bits of data from concatenated cells. For instance, if you’re working with a column of names in the “Last, First” format, you don’t need to type everything out manually or develop a workaround.

If Flash Fill can be switched on to work automatically, or you can use it manually by using the shortcut, Ctrl-E.


Words and tables can convey information, but an image, as they say, is worth a thousand words. Excel charts are a powerful way to display your insights and contrast key data sets.

There are several types of Excel charts, including pie, line and bar charts. You should learn how to select the chart type that best displays the concepts you are trying to portray.

Conditional Formatting

If you want to highlight particular trends in an information set, Conditional Formatting allows you to quickly distinguish data of interest using various colors. To make use of this tool, choose the array of cells you would like to format, then click the Conditional Formatting menu. Most people use the Highlight Cells and Rules submenus.


Short for ‘vertical lookup,’ VLOOKUP is a tool every Excel user ought to know. This tool makes it possible to round up data spread across various sheets and workbooks, putting them into one location for reporting and other purposes.

The VLOOKUP combs through a column for a designated value so that a connected value can be returned. To utilize VLOOKUP, pick the cell for the output, enter the value you want to locate, pick the columns to search and enter the column number where the target value can be found.

We Can Help with Your Supply Chain Career Development

At ZDA, we work with ambitious supply chain professionals to help them advance their career and realize their professional goals. Please contact us today to find out how we can help you.

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