When confronted with a mountain of data that you need to sift through and organize nothing can make your job faster and easier to understand than an effective spreadsheet. When it comes time to share this information with others you will be able to quickly and succinctly offer your findings for their consideration in an easy-on-the-eyes-and-brain form. Without having to completely learn Excel you can create an idyllic spreadsheet template that you can use over and over again to present new information just by changing the data in your cells. With so many options available in spreadsheet programs like Excel you need to consider which ones will work best for your project.
Here was a spreadsheet that had been created by someone with a good knowledge of formulas and functions. But... it was not obvious at first glance what to do with it. Do I click on one of these buttons? Do I need to enter some data? Where do I enter the data? On closer examination these were the problems that made it difficult to use: - There was no heading or title. - It was very dense in terms of the number of cells showing on screen. - Ranges of cells were formatted in five different colours. What did it all mean? - Help provided was limited to brief comments in some cells and some of these were in hidden columns. - The sections for data entry and the sections for results were not clearly separated. - Macro buttons were square in shape.
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Yet there is no tool for project management that is more popular or widespread than the spreadsheet despite the fact that spreadsheets are not designed to be project support tools. Even in organizations with an established project management tool spreadsheets are used. There are obvious reasons for this. A spreadsheet program is on almost every computer in every organization people are familiar with spreadsheets and how to use them and people are pre-disposed to use these "office" types of software tools to solve problems. And I am right there with them. I love using spreadsheets to track all kinds of data.
Gone are the days when not having the right data is acceptable. Part of the fundamental financial analysis of any company investment security or business project entails the computation of cash flows. This is typically done in a cash flow template Excel spreadsheet which is pre-built for the purpose. The reason for this is that this type of template is not a simple calculator you build on the fly with little effort. It requires a lot of thinking organizing the spreadsheets and formulas and some planning about how to model cash in and cash out for each potential investment.