Last year, we had a great time rubbing minds on the amazing things one could do with Microsoft Excel and had a presentation on other data analytics platforms. There were participants from all over Nigeria and the community has kept growing strong and sharing career growing knowledge.

This year, there will be a similar meetup/conference and you can RSVP at

Below is the agenda:

Nigerian Excel Users 2018 Meetup
The Zone Tech Park, Plot 9 Gbagada Industrial Scheme, UPS b/stop, Gbagada - Oshodi Expressway, Lagos.
1st September, 2018 (10:00am to 3:30pm)

Start Time: 10:00am

1) Introduction and networking (25 mins)

2) General Discussions pt 1(Your Excel Journey, career advantage, Excel pet peeves, ideas, the esoteric, 40 mins)

3) Presentation 1 (25 mins) + Q & A (10 mins)

4) Presentation 2 (25 mins) + Q & A (10 mins)

5) Break (10 mins)

6) Presentation 3 (25 mins) + Q & A (10 mins)

7) Presentation 4 (25 mins) Q & A (10 mins)

8) Break (10 mins)

9) Presentation 5 (25 mins) Q & A (10 mins)

10) Presentation 6 (25 mins) Q & A (10 mins)

11) General Discussions pt 2 (Your Excel Journey, career advantage, Excel pet peeves, ideas, the esoteric, 30 mins)

12) Close (5 mins)

End Time: 3:30pm (Networking continues)

There will be drinks and snacks.

Also, if you are interested in making a presentation, then you can fill the following Google form (link here)

The new Pension Fund Plans (courtesy,

Last week, a big brother asked me what I think about switching from Fund 2 to Fund 1. Fund 2 is the default plan for everyone below age 50 years. 

Below is my reply, as usual, sprinkled with my deep bias. Enjoy. 😁

Variable investment instruments mean stocks, real estate, corporate bonds etc.

You can download and read the official doc from PenCom

Fund 1 is mandated to invest between 20% to 75% in stocks, real estate and other volatile assets while Fund 2 can only invest between 10% to 55% in such assets. Fund 2 is the default for people below 50 years old.

Switching from Fund 2 to Fund 1 means you are okay with greater exposure to the stocks market and other volatile assets class. Mathematically, you are expected to gain more potential returns (in fact, a sure higher return over the long term) but there are two reality issues that can negate that:

  1. Our Nigerian stocks, real estate and corporate bond market is not well developed and not efficient, resulting in all manners of non-theoretically expected results. For instance, our stocks market is more influenced by foreign investors inflow/outflow than the actual by-the-book dynamics that should reflect a stock’s price. Our real estate market is not organized and all the REITS (real estate investment trusts, funds) are very poorly performing. These fundamental distortions amplify the risks one face, and greatly lengthens the time it will take to assuredly get the higher returns expected.
  2. If you are about 10 years or less to reaching 50, when the PFA will have to mandatorily move you to another plan (with reduced exposure to volatile assets) you might not have enough time to gain that promised higher return rate, and might experience less return on your pension fund compared to someone who stayed in Fund 2.
 From my experience with mutual funds, they are not good at stock picking, they often buy/sell too often raking transaction charges that come straight out of your money and still charge their management fees. I have stopped using stocks mutual funds* because over the last 7 years of using them, they’ve not done well at all compared to leaving one's money in the money market fund (where most of PFAs have been stacking pension). My Stanbic Pension has performed way better than my Stanbic Mutual Fund since 2011. So I might be even going for Fund 3 (if allowed) rather than let them actively trade my money in Fund 1.

Again, just my biased opinion based on explanations above.

* I do my stocks buying by myself, and have been performing better than ARM Discovery Fund and Stanbic IBTC NEF. So I pulled out my money from those mutual funds.
In case you are not too familiar with SUMIF, SUMIFS, COUNTIF and COUNTIFS, they are a group of formula used to sum or count records that meet a specified criterion. 

Below are some easy to follow examples to help you fully grasp them. You can download the practice file here: 

I have a transaction database for a pizza restaurant and I am interested in total sales for Hot Veggie. With SUMIF I can get that done easily.

=SUMIF(B:B,"Hot Veggie",E:E)

What if we also want to consider other conditions beyond just the name of the pizza sold, say we want to find the sales amount for all the Hot Veggie sold after 8:30 am? 

That is what SUMIFS is for; it is the plural form of SUMIF, allowing you to chain as many conditions as you want.

=SUMIFS(E:E,B:B,"Hot Veggie",F:F,">8:30")

Maybe I am just interested in the number of transactions that are for Hot Veggie. Again, very easy. We just use COUNTIF.

=COUNTIF(B:B,"Hot Veggie")

How about count of transactions for Hot Veggie that happened after 8:30?

=COUNTIFS(B:B,"Hot Veggie",F:F,">8:30")

Now to the very interesting parts. What if I am interested in not just Hot Veggie, but also Meatzaa, Italiano and BBQ Chicken?

Q: Sum all the sales for Meatzaa, Hot Veggie, Italiano and BBQ Chicken
A: =SUM(SUMIF(B:B,{"Meatzaa","Hot Veggie","Italiano","BBQ Chicken"},E:E))

You might wonder why the {..} wrapping the list of pizzas. It is how Excel allows you to specify an array (a list, like we've done). Also, you might wonder why the SUM(...) around the SUMIF formula. It is what allows Excel to sum up all the different answers for each pizza type. See what I mean from the partially calculated formula screenshot below.

And you can use this same pattern for SUMIFS, COUNTIF and COUNTIFS.

Q: Sum all the sales for Meatzaa, Hot Veggie, Italiano and BBQ Chicken after 8:30 am
A: =SUM(SUMIFS(E:E,B:B,{"Meatzaa","Hot Veggie","Italiano","BBQ Chicken"},F:F,">8:30"))

Q: Count of all the transactions for Meatzaa, Hot Veggie, Italiano and BBQ Chicken
A: =SUM(COUNTIF(B:B,{"Meatzaa","Hot Veggie","Italiano","BBQ Chicken"}))

Q: Count of all the transactions for Meatzaa, Hot Veggie, Italiano and BBQ Chicken after 8:30 am
A: =SUM(COUNTIFS(B:B,{"Meatzaa","Hot Veggie","Italiano","BBQ Chicken"},F:F,">8:30"))

For more of these types of very useful tutorials you can check out and subscribe to my YouTube channel

During our monthly training classes, I notice a strong interest in being able to make sales and transactions forecast by participants from retail industry and financial institutions. Their face lit up when I tell them that there are a couple of forecast tools in Microsoft Excel they can make good use of.

In today's post, I will be walking you through those forecast tools with a focus on using them to make sales forecast.

1. Forecast Sheet 

People are usually surprised when I show them this tool. It is one of the tools added to Excel 2016 and Office 365, and you will find it under Data menu. With it you can make very useful time series forecasts that takes into consideration trend and seasonality in your data.

Let's say you work for Cadbury and would like to forecast sales for the ever yummy Bournvita beverage; it is common sense to factor in the reality that sales always spike in some specific months of the year (Christmas hampers period etc.). That is what is beautifully handled by the seasonality component of the forecast sheet tool. And there is also trend (are sales generally trending upwards or downwards). What I most like about it is the flexibility Microsoft put into it: you can handle missing records, set confidence interval, and even let it automatically detect the seasonality.

2. Moving Average

This is the most common forecasting method I see business people use. Any time you are projecting the average growth for the last couple of months or years forward, you are doing plain vanilla Moving Average. Then whenever you take that average and add a magic number to it (like we do in coming up with optimistic case and pessimistic case in most financial modelling), you are still doing Moving Average -- the strawberry and lemon flavoured version of it. And whenever management says they want to double growth rate year on year for the next three years; that, again, is Moving Average.

So how do you do it in Microsoft Excel? If you are okay with typing a simple formula in Excel, then just doing =AVERAGE(last x periods) gets you there.

However, if you are not on friendly terms with Excel formulas, you can take advantage of Moving Average in Excel Data Analysis Toolpak.

Just remember to first activate Data Analysis Toolpak from File >> Options >> Add-ins >> Manage Excel Add-ins 

3. Regression

Let's say you work for Julius Berger Construction company. The company revenue depends on Federal Government budget, GDP growth rate, number of meetings with potential clients, which party is in power, PMI and FDI. Perhaps way more than which month of the year we are in or the previous years revenue. Then it would make better sense to do a forecast model that combines all those factors and give you some sense of what type of revenue figure to expect this year. And more importantly, show you which factors strongly influence your revenue and which are not very important, plus how much you need to do as regards the factors under your control in order to achieve a specific desired revenue goal. 

That forecast model is regression.

It requires a fairly good deal of statistics knowledge but is well worth the work. And Excel has a tool that takes away most of the computational headache. You just do a couple of clicks and read a blog post on how to interpret + use the regression tool results.

You'll find it under the Data Analysis Toolpak I earlier showed you how to activate.

And these are the common sales forecasting tools you should be conversant with in Microsoft Excel. If you look through the Data Analysis Toolpak, you'll find a couple more.

If you enjoyed this and would like to learn more useful analysis tools, you absolutely should subscribe to my YouTube channel and go through my humour filled tutorial video collections. :)

People are surprised when I tell them that my first (and only) degree is in Electrical and Electronics Engineering. And unlike many people, I had the chance to go back to the core Engineering role I studied for but I didn't, only asked my boss to keep the offer open in case I get bored with Microsoft Excel. Now I make my full-time living from Microsoft Excel.

So what are the practical value you get from being good at using Microsoft Excel?

Let's start with in general life, outside of work. Especially for people whose work won't need them using Microsoft Excel.

1. Non-work Use
What do you think I and many other people use for their personal finance planning and investment analysis? Well, it is Microsoft Excel. Even when you buy a personal finance book and additional resources are given you for practical application of what the book is teaching you, those resources often include Microsoft Excel templates.

What do you think people use to track the performance of their side business? Actually, people use all kinds of things to track their side hustle -- from paper + biro, word of mouth, intuition, Microsoft Excel, to sophisticated apps/software. Hope you noticed Microsoft Excel in the list. If you don't have money for sophisticated apps/software and don't want to use paper + pen, Microsoft Excel is more than enough.

What do people use to plan major events and major projects expenses? Microsoft Excel.

Having a good grasp of Microsoft Excel can make many tedious non-work (or even non-data related work) activities a breeze. Imagine an IT guy needing to create email accounts for 120 newly employed staff. With Excel, all he needs to do to reduce the number of keystrokes significantly is to copy their first name and last name into Excel in separate columns, then CONCATENATE (and LEFT if the company uses initials in the email format). 

There are many non-Excel and non-work related stuff I have used Excel for and see others use Excel for. One example I even created a template around for people not Excel savvy is the need to send bulk SMS to dozens or hundreds of people and not wanting to spend an hour on arranging the numbers in the format most bulk SMS platforms require. Another is sending personalized email to your group or community members without doing it one by one or using an email marketing app.

The knowledge of Excel is as good and versatile as the knowledge of basic mathematics. You will always find situations where it will save you time and even prevent you from making wrong decisions.

2. Work Use
The moment you aspire to be part of management, to rise to the level of a CEO or CMO or CFO or COO or CIO or CTO, that moment is your clue to knowing that you can't escape the use of Microsoft Excel in your career. At that top, everything falls on data-driven strategy. You can't sweet talk your fellow CxO and board into doing something you haven't done the Excel analysis around.

I constantly come across people who have risen in their career, following a very technical path, and then suddenly they are part of management or need to work very closely with management, and find that their low competence in using Excel and carrying out data-driven analysis is an embarrassing weakness.

Then there are programmers who just love to hate Excel. They represent a category of people who would like to use something complicated for everything. Then they start having issues with managers who want some type of reports that are best made in Excel. Occasionally, I see them spend time coding a program to do something one off, something very easy and fast to do in Excel. They still don't see the value of Excel until I do it for them in Excel and they go WOW! 

Lastly, if you are a sales analyst or finance manager or accountant or project manager or marketing manager or operations manager or human resource manger and you are not very proficient in the use of Microsoft Excel you might be jeopardizing your productivity. You are supposed to focus more on high level strategy and guiding the management than fighting with data. Being very good with Excel will mean more insightful reports, fast comprehensive analysis, better chart-backed presentations and better decision making based on data. 

If you feel convinced enough to want to up your Excel competence, you can take advantage of my company's free training resources or even take my Udemy course with a certificate for free using this coupon link (just 96 coupons available via that link).

All the best!