Cherise Brune June 5, 2021 Spreadsheet
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.
Given this data set imagine trying to find out which Fridays you were busy at an appointment at noon while your partner was also busy at an appointment at noon and the descriptions of both of your appointments contained the phrase down town. If you are not familiar with relational databases and SQL it might surprise you to know that the question can be answered by a single simple SQL query. The database and SQL don‘t have it all their own way however. Spreadsheets come in to their own for tasks that benefit from a visual representation. Traditionally databases do not provide a visual way to browse the data in tables without explicitly requesting data.
Microsoft plans to have this program up soon and now Google is beta testing a similar situation, which would allow you to do essentially the same thing. Why is this good? Well, consider the Digital divide in the world and if everyone just had a terminal rather than a big hard drive with lots of expensive stuff on the computer then they can store all their information at one location. By doing this, the computers would actually be terminals and it would be very inexpensive to make them, meaning that everyone in the world could afford to have one and everyone in the world could be online and interconnected in a giant collective of humanity. There would be no one who would be without the Internet and this would bring the world closer together in a common cause.
You have now created a dynamic link between your Excel spreadsheet and the Word document. That is to say, any changes which you make to the spreadsheet will be reflected within your Word document. Simply right-click the embedded object in Word after editing the spreadsheet and choose ‘update link‘ to see the changes. You will also be given the option to update each time you open the Word invoice.
As a set of general rules data is most useful when things like text fields hold only names as well as meaningful and validated codes, categories and classifications. Text notes and other free form text should be isolated to a dedicated notes field and thus separated from other numeric data. Numeric fields should hold only numeric values (numbers, dates, %‘s and in the correct quantum or magnitude with no text prefixes, suffixes, spaces, text elements or text notes present. You must also be careful that numeric data is not stored as text and it should be internally consistent in terms of the correct format so that it can be used in calculations or for comparison and queries. Finally, addresses should be separated out into multiple fields such as street address, town /suburb, state / province, postal code and country to allow for geographic analysis and mail outs if required. Fixing up a data set to meet these criteria is called data scrubbing, cleansing or massaging. This data cleansing process can be very time consuming even for an experienced Microsoft Excel user, database engineer, business analyst or computer programmer.
It does have one severe limitation. Goal seek is not a formula. It does not permanently reside in the spreadsheet or the selected cells. Therefore you have to re-run Goal Seek each and every time you change the spreadsheet. Often this is acceptable because you have created a model specifically to calculate that one parameter. Having said that, there will be occasions where this is inadequate. What are the plans for your meeting or convention this year? Does it start with a budget or did you even do one last year? If you did one, did you do it the easy way with a Budget Spreadsheet for Meetings? Let us discuss your needs and see what forms and budgets can be facilitated the easy way. If approached correctly, you can cut your ”Hassle Factor” by more than half with the right event template.
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