Excel has its limits. Sooner or later most dedicated Excel users discover the limitations of their favorite tool and begin a search for better ways to get their work done quickly, easily and with much reduced risk of serious error.
For frequent Excel users, one very attractive alternative is Alteryx Designer. With Alteryx Designer analysts can build workflows to handle many Excel tasks that are tedious, time consuming and error prone. Alteryx workflows are created easily on a graphical canvas with drag and drop tools. Alteryx avoids the need to learn a programming language or master the intricacies of crafting Excel macros. This approach to software building is often referred as “NO CODE” programming.
CYCLE TIME Once built and tested, Alteryx workflows operate against source data files in a fraction of the time required by Excel. By automating previously manual tasks Alteryx significantly reduces or even eliminates the risk of human error. Whenever a configuration or logic error is detected in the workflow, Alteryx will stop the workflow execution and alert the user to exactly the point in the workflow where it has failed.
FILE SIZE With Alteryx the annoying file size limitations of Excel are removed. Data files containing tens of millions of records are no longer a problem. Alteryx eliminates the need to break up huge files into smaller chunks that Excel can digest. DOCUMENTATION Alteryx users work with a visual interface to create and run their workflows. Since the workflows are rendered as diagrams, the application readily supports much of the work of process documentation. With easy-to-follow workflow diagrams, managers require minimal training to review and approve new or updated workflows created by team members.
Built in tools within Alteryx make it easy to incorporate additional text into workflow diagrams. This added text can include references to business context, descriptions of business logic or pointers to external documents. This approach to thorough documentation provides insurance against the loss of that one key person possessing the knowledge required to operate a critical legacy Excel process.
INTEGRATION Knowing that Excel will not be going away anytime soon, the creators of Alteryx have designed their application to play well with Excel. Alteryx workflows can be configured to read all Excel file formats along with dozens of other formats commonly used for storing data. Alteryx can also write to Excel files plus numerous other data formats.
Often an Excel based analytical process requires that a request be sent to a data source such as an accounting application or an ERP system. Only after the source system has delivered the data in a format readable by Excel can the analysis proceed. Sometimes there are significant delays if more than one person needs to be involved. In many cases Alteryx can be configured to directly extract data from the source system. These workflows can be structured to follow security rules and can even be set up to run automatically on a schedule.
ROI Most times the business case to acquire Alteryx Designer and train users is easy to make. The investment payoff is most often measured in analyst time saved, shorter cycle times, reductions in the risks associated with spreadsheet errors and the comfort of knowing that crucial systems are not vulnerable to disruptions caused by staff turnover. Alteryx allows business users to go beyond the limitations of Excel without calling upon scarce IT resources or becoming software programmers themselves.