Not really. I like to think of SAS as partnering with Excel. Because of the following Excel benefits and its synergy with SAS.
- Excel has been around for years.
- Many people are familiar and comfortable storing data in Excel.
- It’s quite easy to read Excel data into SAS.
Having given you these reasons dear reader, I’m not suggesting you quit Excel altogether or advise your team to stop giving you files in Excel.
Rather my recommendation is to just do your analysis work in SAS because of the benefits—I’ll list just three here to match our Excel list:
- Hands down, SAS has masterful data extraction and analysis capability. It can read virtually any data source. For example, it can easily join your native Excel table with a SAS dataset.
- Other than these limitations that apply to the Windows operating systems, a SAS data set can be as large as the operating system will allow. While the new Excel does perform better with increased limits (starting in Excel 2007, the maximum number of rows per worksheet increased from 65,536 to over 1 million) these are limits nevertheless on large datasets. SAS is perfect for big data or high-performance analytics (while Excel wasn’t really designed for this type of extreme analysis).
- SAS automatically documents your work creating an audit trail without your intervention.
Here’s what I recommended to this client who’s new to SAS. As a business expert, she doesn’t have to learn to write code. So I showed her data extraction and analysis in SAS Enterprise Guide. (You can learn more in our SAS Enterprise Guide training classes.)
Here are the steps I took:
- Imported an existing Excel file into SAS EG. Currently the client has transactions stored in company proprietary software that converts data into Excel files for team use.
- Shaped the data using the Summary Tables wizard. The client needs to do a lot of pivot table type reporting in Excel and is exhausted with the amount of manual work she does. The Summary tables task in SAS Enterprise Guide (PROC TABULATE in the background) does the work she wants very nicely, slicing and dicing data in different ways depending on team and management needs.
- Sent the data back to Excel for those wishing to continue to see the summarized data in Excel.
The pros of working with both Excel and SAS:
- Excel is used by those who are familiar with it and want to see data only in that format.
- SAS does the high end analysis. With a few points and clicks, the client was well on her way to analysis victory. Comparing that to her hours of manual labour with Excel, she heaved a sigh of relief.
- SAS EG also documents the steps very nicely along the way with data sources, tasks, results and arrows pointing to workflow. Whether this client is at work or not, someone else could easily get where she was going with this data flow.
- SAS EG packages the summarized data to Excel.
Here are some resources you might find useful: