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Python in Excel: Spreadsheet benefits for accountants

27 Sept 2023

As an accountant, tax advisor or bookkeeper Microsoft Excel will be included in your day to day remit. Spreadsheets are very much the norm for accountants, but Excel is changing. In a groundbreaking move, Microsoft have decided to integrate Python, a high-level programming language, into its software.

At first glance you may not take too much notice. If you're in that camp, hear this. Accountants and any spreadsheet user in your accountancy practice may just be about to experience a revolution in Excel.

20:20 Innovation members and Tech-Talk subscribers are always kept informed about advancements in technology for accountants. So, with that in mind, this article will explore:

- What a computer programming language is

- Why Microsoft has chosen Python. How this integration can benefit Excel users.

Read on to find out what this announcement may mean for your accountancy firm. As always, 20:20 Innovation are on hand to keep members and all our customers informed of any impact. If you would like more information about joining why not book a free 30-minute demo with our team today.

Accountant looks at data analysis on Excel

What is the Microsoft Python to Excel Integration?

Microsoft has announced a big change to data analytics capabilities within Excel sheets. Although currently in beta phase, there is now a public preview of Python in Excel. This is for anyone with a Microsoft 365 subscription.

What is Python?

Python code is a high-level, general-purpose programming language that allows data to be represented in a more user friendly format.

Python library was created by Guido van Rossum and it was first released in 1991. Python has since become one of the most popular programming languages, renowned for its simplicity. The programme is used in various different environments, including:

  1. Web development.

  2. Data science.

  3. Artificial intelligence.

  4. Scientific computing

  5. Plus many more.

What is a Programming Language?

Learning Python without learning what programming language is - that's tough! It's like learning double entry without knowing what a set of accounts is.

A programming language is a special kind of language used to give instructions to a computer. Exactly like a human being would use language to communicate with each other, we use programming languages to communicate with computers. Python is one of those languages.

As an accountant, it may be useful to learn Python and learn more about programming languages to future proof your business.

How will Python to Excel change spreadsheets?

As an accountant you might ask, what does this mean for me? Now that Python works with Excel via built in connectors it makes it possible to insert the computer programming language into your workbook.

This means that instead of utilising both Python and Excel analytics, you can view them in one place. This is with no setup required. Users like you can type Python directly into a cell with results returned directly into the worksheet.

Will Python to Excel cost more?

Microsoft are currently planning to include Python in Excel in the existing Office 365 package. This means they will be offering advanced analytics for no additional cost. It remains to be seen whether functionality will be restricted without a paid license.

There is no full roll out date as yet, but this integration promises to change the way we interact with spreadsheets. Python in Excel will offer more flexibility and capabilities than ever before, ideal for accountants.

Why Would Python be Good in Excel or Accounting?

It’s an acceptable question. Why you would take the time to learn the basics of Python when Excel formulae can create great workbooks? Well, integrating Python into Excel opens up a whole new world of opportunities for accountants, bookkeepers and tax advisors like you. For example:

  1. Advanced data analysis.

  2. Improved visuals including details graphs and data tables

  3. Enhanced automation such as automatically generating reports

Python also allows you to integrate with other tools within Excel. This enables a seamless flow of data between different systems. What's more, the customisation means a more powerful and flexible version of Excel, far exceeding the inbuilt functions.

It’s also worth noting that these codes can be used multiple times across different projects. Once the code has been written once, the benefits can be seen long term. 

Can ChatGPT Help Write Python

In short, yes it can. Regular Tech-Talk subscribers will know that ChatGPT has huge benefits when used correctly in your accounting practice. ChatGPT is a state-of-the-art language generation model which can assist users in writing Python scripts.

It does so by providing coding assistance, debugging help, and even generating code snippets based on user requirements. The benefit of this is that ChatGPT can translate our basic instructions by converting typed word into code.

Python is seen as one of the easier to write programming languages. This is likely why it has been selected by Excel to help with analysing data.

It is also one of the wider used systems meaning there is a large community and a wealth of resources available.

Can 20:20 Innovation help with Python to Excel?

Why should accountants be aware of the Python in Excel announcement? Well, this can be seen as a significant step forward in the evolution of spreadsheets. It promises to bring a new level of power and flexibility to Excel. As always, at 20:20 we’ll monitor progress as testing goes through the beta phase and look to provide training specific to accountants once the features are readily available

For more details about programming language and free resources that are available, find out about our Tech-Talk service.

If you would like more information about joining 20:20 Innovation why not book a free 30-minute demo with our team today or call us on +44 (0) 121 314 2020.