Financial Planning Spreadsheet
Your spreadsheet should follow this convention too. The information that the user needs to first see or respond to first should be in the top left or top centre. 7/ Format for Description The rule of thumb is; format for description not decoration. What looks good to one person can look terrible to another. Multiple colours can be confusing and again generally simpler is better. If you have created a table or a database in Excel the headings could be bolded to separate these from the data. Perhaps more important than the choice of formatting is that it is consistent throughout the document.
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.
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Also how do you intend to handle depreciation and amortization since these are non-cash items that are typically added back to the income statement entries when determining the cash effect. Also how long is your investment horizon? Is it really that important to you to project out to 30 years or is 3-5 years sufficient along with a terminal value that represents the expected NPV beyond 5 years? Usually this latter approach works best and looks the most credible to potential investors. There are numerous ways to calculate terminal value including multiples current market values projected forward and round guesstimates. Obviously these decisions are affected by your personal preference and the type of investment for which you re calculating present value.
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.