Measuring Efficiency of Formulas and Macros

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 15, 2018)

Jerry notes that there are usually several ways to get the same results in Excel, such as various combinations of functions or VBA code. He knows there are some general guidelines for improving the efficiency of Excel workbooks, but notes that database designers have tools to measure and improve the efficiency of the queries that are run against their databases. Jerry wonders if there is any kind of similar tool an Excel user can use to measure the performance of a particular formula or macro to make the workbook calculate more efficiently.

There are many ways to go about improving the efficiency and calculation speed of your worksheets and your macros. The traditional method (at least when it comes to macros) is to insert some code that notes the start time of what you want to measure and then, after that code block is done, note the end time. By comparing the two you can find the elapsed time for that block and if it is unacceptable, focus your efforts on improving the algorithms in that block.

When it comes to actual formulas in a worksheet, you can't really measure elapsed time in the same way you can in a macro. All you could do (if you chose to do so) is to measure how long, overall, a recalculation took. Unfortunately, that doesn't help you narrow down what formulas you might need to change or how you might reorganize your worksheet.

If you want some tools that are more automated, you might consider purchasing Professional Excel Development, a book by Rob Bovey, Dennis Wallentin, Stephen Bullen, and John Green. This is a formidable book (over 1,100 pages), but it includes some serious discussions about how to make your worksheets and macros as fast-performing as possible. It also includes a free tool called PerfMon that you can use to time various parts of your coding to zero in on what you need to optimize.

Another tool that is highly recommended is one called FastExcel, an add-in that helps you speed up your workbooks. It includes profiling tools to measure timing and identify bottlenecks, among other features. It is available here:

http://www.decisionmodels.com/fastexcel.htm

Finally, Microsoft has published an excellent article (actually, three articles) on improving the performance of your workbooks. You can find it here:

https://msdn.microsoft.com/library/FF700515.aspx

The article was written specifically for Excel 2010, but it is still applicable to other modern versions of the program.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (10984) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Using the TRUNC Worksheet Function

Want to chop off everything after a certain point in a number? The TRUNC function can help with this need.

Discover More

Quick Recall of Table Formats

Got a table that you use over and over again? One way you can make quick work of such repetition is to save the table in ...

Discover More

Labeling X-Y Scatter Plots

Figuring out how to get the data points in an X-Y scatter plot labeled can be confusing; Excel certainly doesn't make it ...

Discover More

Professional Development Guidance! Four world-class developers offer start-to-finish guidance for building powerful, robust, and secure applications with Excel. The authors show how to consistently make the right design decisions and make the most of Excel's powerful features. Check out Professional Excel Development today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Embedding Your Phone Number in a Workbook

Want to provide a bit of contact information in a workbook? A great place to do it (out of sight, but not inaccessible) ...

Discover More

Synchronous Scrolling with More than Two Windows

Synchronous scrolling of different windows can be very helpful with some worksheets. Excel allows you to synchronize the ...

Discover More

Inserting the User's Name in a Cell

Need to understand who is using a particular workbook? There are a number of ways you can find out, as discussed in this tip.

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 4 - 0?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.