Excel Automation

Go beyond macros with enterprise-class automation for all your Excel processes


What is Excel Automation?

Across organizations of all sizes and industries, one tool is ubiquitous—Microsoft Excel. We love Excel for its ability to organize and analyze data, but hate the time we spend copying and pasting values or reformatting documents. ​​ 

​Excel automation streamlines your use of the application by automatically performing tasks like formatting cells, updating values, and running macros. With Fortra’s Automate, you can also integrate automated Excel tasks with other tasks across the enterprise.​

Watch this example to see how to automate Excel reports. You’ll see how Automate monitors a folder for an Excel spreadsheet to appear, and then automatically creates a new report based on the data in the existing report.


How to Automate Excel

​One way organizations attempt automating Excel tasks is through VBA (Microsoft’s programming language), otherwise known as macros. While users turn to macros to save time by writing VBA code to run specific Excel tasks, they aren’t always the best solution. For starters, they require coding knowledge and come with a steep learning curve that makes them harder for business user. And they only apply to very specific and limited use cases that don’t go far beyond basic copy/paste. Plus, macros can be risky and hard to scale, so it's time to find a a more modern way to automate Excel. ​ 

Fortra's Automate, a robotic process automation solution, can automatically execute the same steps you would perform when working with spreadsheets, such as formatting cells or updating values. Using Automate can drastically reduce the time required to complete an entire Excel process, while also eliminating errors. Already automating Excel with macros? Automate can run your existing Excel macros, while adding enterprise-level functionality and security features. 

Best of all, you can integrate your Excel tasks, like spreadsheet automation, with other processes across the enterprise. For an Excel automation example, generate a spreadsheet from information in a database, encrypt and compress the file, and transfer it to a partner via FTP—all without any manual effort.  


Other Benefits of Excel Automation Tools 

Automating Excel tasks delivers more than just a streamlined experience for completing Excel-related tasks. Here are the biggest benefits of Excel workflow automation: 

  • Boost Productivity 
    How many hours a day are you spending on data entry tasks—especially in Excel? When you learn how to automate data entry in Excel, get an immediate boost to your productivity that gives you back your time to spend on more strategic work. 

  • More Accurate Data 
    Errors are human. But when you hand data entry over to an RPA bot, eliminate errors in your Excel sheets caused by slipping fingers, misplaced cells, and other issues that arise from data entry fatigue. Ensure accuracy by moving data directly to and from Excel. 

  • Eliminate Rekeying Data 
    With so many applications and systems, organizations often have to input the same information into multiple places. With Excel automation, RPA bots gather the information from an Excel sheet once, and can automatically input it anywhere else it’s needed. 



How to Automate Excel Sheets Using RPA ​​

Automate's native  Excel Action  includes 10 activities that are the building blocks for your Excel automation workflows. These activities automatically mimic the same steps you would perform when working with spreadsheets, like formatting cells or updating values. And if you’re already automating Excel with macros, Automate can run your existing macros to quickly and easily integrate them into your new workflows. 


Activate Worksheet 
Activates a worksheet in a workbook from an established Excel session. 

Add Worksheet 
Adds a new worksheet to a workbook in an established Excel session. 

Close Workbook 
Closes a workbook previously created or opened in an established Excel session. If modifications have been made, the document will be saved when closed. 

Get Active Worksheet 
Retrieves the name or index of the currently active worksheet in an established Excel session and populates either or both of two variables, one for the worksheet name and the other for the index. 

Get Cell(s) 
Returns the text contained in a specified cell of a worksheet from an established Excel session. 

Get Selected Cell(s) 
Retrieves the position of the currently selected cell or range of cells in an established Excel session and populates one or more variables with the cell reference or position coordinates. Use the select cell(s) activity to activate a specific cell or range of cells in an established worksheet. 

Open/Create Workbook 
Opens an existing Microsoft Excel workbook or creates a new workbook and establishes a session name for use in subsequent Excel activities. 

Run Macro 
Runs an existing Excel macro. 

Select Cell(s) 
Selects a single cell or multiple cells, ranges, rows or columns within the currently active worksheet in an established Excel session and populates a dataset with results. 

Set Cell(s) 
Sets the text of one or more cells in an established Excel session, usually with the values contained in a dataset. 


5 Excel Automation Examples to Get You Inspired

​Now that you’ve seen how Excel automation can work, here are 5 more examples to consider implementing in your organization: 

Report Generation 

Bots can gather information from multiple sources and input them into an Excel sheet that is sent to key stakeholders. These reports can be generated on a schedule as well to automate daily, weekly, or monthly reporting. One organization even saved 20 hours per week automating reports



Data Integration 

Excel automation is especially helpful for keeping data updated and current throughout many systems. Information from an Excel sheet can be input in multiple places like databases, websites, and other applications. And data from those can be automatically updated in an Excel sheet. One company started with Excel automation to transform processes across their business with centralized application integration



Data Transformation 

Businesses handle data in many formats. Excel automation can translate data back and forth between Excel and PDFs, CSV, XML, databases, and practically any other file format. A financial firm has found this especially helpful for financial reporting that requires gathering information from multiple sources. 



HR Onboarding 

Create an Excel spreadsheet of employee information that is read to other systems like Microsoft 365, Active Directory, and others to automatically create user accounts and provision systems without re-entering the same information in multiple places. 



Audit Records 

Streamline the audit process by creating an Excel spreadsheet from multiple sources with the required information. Plus, RPA bots can verify and validate the data to ensure the data entry was correct for an added layer of compliance. ​​ 


Get Started Automating Your Excel Tasks

Automate is an intuitive IT automation platform designed to help businesses of any size increase efficiency and maximize ROI throughout the organization. Try a free trial today.