How much more productive are you?


Board Regular
Sep 20, 2003
I'm interested to hear from people on the Board how much more productive in Excel they think they are than the "average" spreadsheet developer. Reason, I'm developing a course in financial modeling for consultants in my company and I want to give them a perspective on how the skills I am teaching will help them.

My perspective is that I am at least twice as fast as I once was and that can jump to 5 to 10 times faster for certain projects.

FYI, if I find them useful, I might use your comments in my training.


Excel Facts

Excel Joke
Why can't spreadsheets drive cars? They crash too often!


MrExcel MVP
Jun 20, 2002
Office Version
  1. 365
There are a couple of facets to this:

1) speed from knowing shortcuts (keyboard shortcuts, -- coercers, etc.)
2) speed from knowing the right resources/methods that are available (e.g. using a pivot table as opposed to trying to recreate the same thing manually)
3) speed from experience and not having to look up (or think about) syntax (e.g. what's the third argument of a VLOOKUP?, no longer forgetting to put an End If at the appropriate place in code and having to debug, etc.)
4) speed from experience about designing spreadsheets well (particularly with future iterations -- not hardcoding data, allowing for/anticipating expansion, etc.)
5) speed from experience about knowing which function or VBA method is the best way to solve your problem (ties in with #4 above)
6) speed from general typing skills, which will (of course) be a completely separate consideration from any Excel/spreadsheet knowledge
7+) others go here.

So, it depends on how you define the "average" user, and it depends on the knowledge a person will learn in your class; and, of course, it depends on the complexity of the task. A "novice" can probably add A1 and A2 about as fast as an "expert", but a task that takes a "novice" several weeks to do can probably be done by an "expert" in less than a day.

With that said, if I had to make up a number, I'd say 10x as fast when you factor in keyboard shortcuts (particularly not using the mouse) is certainly reasonable (what takes a novice 2 weeks takes him/her 1 day). Amazingly fast people (the types who are so ridiculously fast in Excel that onlookers can't even see the spreadsheet when s/he is working--only flashing on the screen) maybe 20x+ (a month's work for a novice in one day for an expert). Then again, it's a very real possibility that an "expert" can fully automate tasks that completely eliminate the need for the "novice" at all. In that case, 0 labor hours compared with a full time employee is well more than 20x ;)

Darren Bartrup

Well-known Member
Mar 13, 2006
Office Version
  1. 365
  1. Windows
I'd say 20x times faster using automation.

Though I may take a month or more designing the spreadsheet, it reduces the time taken to complete the sheet each month from a week to under a minute in some instances. Where 'novices' have to print sheets, cross reference with other workbooks, send out reminder emails, process returned emails automation can handle all this at a click of a button and highlight anything it's not sure of.

As for creating a basic spreadsheet it's got to be a minimum of 5x faster, as Oaktree put it: knowing shortcuts, knowing the formula, not having to ask me how to do something... it all adds up.


MrExcel MVP
Aug 5, 2003
On average, at least 5 x faster, based on what I see around me every day. As Oaktree said, knowing the shortcuts and the syntax is a big help. Even knowing the feature exists is a huge advantage. And definitely, you develop layout skills that don't paint you into corners.

With VBA, the sky's the limit. You either reduce a day-long chore to a few mouse-clicks, or you actually make it possible to do some things that the average user wouldn't contemplate.

The downside is, if you attain guru status around the office, you can spend a lot of time answering basic questions that have nothing to do with your work. It just depends how available you make yourself.


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