Fontanne Estelle May 26, 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.
Structured Query Language, often referred to as SQL, is a grammar of instructions that allows us to tell a relational database to add, modify or delete data. The key benefit, pardon the pun, of SQL is that it allows us to craft instructions relating large sets of data together. In this way SQL is the natural complement to the single cell and formula based interface of spreadsheets like Microsoft Excel. Imagine you had five hundred appointments from your business calendar laid out in a table. Each appointment might have a day, time, location and description. Now imagine you also had five hundred appointments from your partners business calendar, also each having a day, time, location and description.
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.
Spreadsheets such as Microsoft Excel are well suited to tasks involving the manipulation of small amounts of related data. Working out a budget, producing visual reports, organizing lists and calculations that involve many variables are all tasks well suited to a spreadsheet. There are some data related tasks however that spreadsheets such as Microsoft Excel are not suited for. Tasks involving the processing and combination of large sets of data for example are generally not well suited to spreadsheets. There is another technology with a long history and theoretical background that specializes in these sorts of tasks. That technology is relational databases. The most common way people insert data into and extract data from relational databases is via the language of Structured Query Language.
One of the topics I cover on my Advanced Excel courses is hardly ‘advanced‘ at all, but it is a very useful and popular technique with my students. It makes use of the OLE capability to create invoices by embedding Excel data. First you need to create an Excel spreadsheet and format it in an appropriate manner, keeping in mind that this will form the basic structure of your invoice and will eventually be seen by your clients. You don‘t include any Company contact details or logos in the spreadsheet though as these will be incorporated into the Word document. The next step is to lay out the invoice itself in a Word document, based upon your normal Company letterhead. Leave the main body of the document empty as this is where the Excel spreadsheet will be embedded. All you need in this master Word document is your usual Company branding and contact information.
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.
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