Celestia Maddy June 7, 2021 Spreadsheet
When Microsoft Excel is used to manipulate, store and analyse data it can become extremely difficult to manage, let alone efficiently work to produce any meaningful insights. This is because with data sets large and small, the data must be meaningful, logical, structured, internally consistent and clean. This holds true regardless of whether the data has been imported into excel from another system or manually entered. In this computing age, most people know that for any data set to be useable it must first be relatively structured and clean. A spreadsheet and its table layout naturally encourages data to be somewhat structured, however ensuring data is clean is also difficult.
In a well-designed spreadsheet, any output can be calculated from the raw data. However, that‘s not always enough. Sometimes the output is fixed and the raw data is variable. Let‘s say you run an investment company and want to offer your clients a fixed return. An Excel expert could create a very complex model to calculate the likely return on investments over a fixed period. You could then calculate the internal rate of return being offered to clients. The problem is that you‘re not interested in the return offered to clients; that is, after all, fixed. Instead you‘re concerned with how much money you expect to draw from the investment fund, whilst still offering your investors a satisfactory return. If you have $1 and owe investors a quarter, you can calculate your profits using a simple formula.
Lester P. Goodbinder had suffered another agonizing week in Pittsburgh. The semi-annual audit he conducted at the Bourgeois Ball Bearing Factory stretched into five 14-hour days examining electronic spreadsheets on an archaic computer system installed in the early ‘80s. The equipment churned so abysmally he cleverly joked to himself it was powered by lazy hamsters on treadmills. Not only that, the accounting software loaded on the system was an early version of ”Abacus,” and only slightly faster than a key-punch adding machine but considerably slower than a hand-held calculator.
These common complaints with Microsoft Excel filtering are heard time and time again by engineers, accountants, management consultants, bankers and finance professionals who work with data in Excel spreadsheets on a daily basis. Many spreadsheet users including financial modellers (who seem to be leading the charge) are turning towards Excel Add-ins and software tools that plug into Microsoft Excel to help them improve the in-built filtering logic of Microsoft Excel and thus analyse certain data sets quickly and easily.
Unfortunately an internal rate of return is time dependent so the amount you can withdraw depends on when you take it. Suffice to say, the only way to calculate the amount you can take e.g. halfway through the life of the fund, is by trial and error. If you are evaluating a number of investment opportunities, that can be a very time consuming process. Therefore Microsoft have built the Goal Seek function to aid your spreadsheet development. Since Excel 2007, it has been available from the Data ribbon. In earlier versions of Excel, it was present from the Tools menu. It gets straight to the point. It asks you which value you would like to fix (in this case the investor‘s return), what you would like to fix it to, and asks what you would like to change. All fields can accept cell references. It will then calculate the input through trial and error.
Most planners are good at multi-tasking and have no problems designing a simple spreadsheet to handle a basic budget or designing a form to handle registration. So, you spend your time designing and stressing out. You end up with a variety of forms that each handle a specific need like registration, exhibits, food expenses and budget. The forms are not connected and do not work together. Hence, you end up having to do additional work merging the information from the various forms into your budget. Why do this when there is a Budget Spreadsheet for Meetings on the market that will tie your history, individual forms and budget together? It is so easy that all you have to do is enter the information. The spreadsheet does the rest.
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