Excel 2010 – Data Analysis and Business Modelling
Whether you work for a Fortune 500 corporation, a small company, a government agency, or a not-for-profit organization, if you’re reading this introduction the chances are you use Microsoft Excel in your daily work. Your job probably involves summarizing, reporting, and analyzing data. It might also involve building analytic models to help your employer increase profits, reduce costs, or manage operations more efficiently.
Since 1999, I’ve taught thousands of analysts at organizations such as 3M, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Cisco Systems, Drugstore.com, eBay, Eli Lilly, Ford, General Electric, General Motors, Intel, Microsoft, NCR, Owens Corning, Pfizer, Proctor & Gamble, Tellabs, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Department of Defense, and Verizon how to use Excel more efficiently and productively in their jobs. Students have often told me that the tools and methods I teach in my classes have saved them hours of time each week and provided them with new and improved approaches for analyzing important business problems. Most of these classes used Excel 2003 or Excel 2007. With the added power of Excel 2010, you can be more productive than you ever dreamed! To paraphrase Alicia Silverstone in the movie Clueless, Excel 2007 is so five years ago.
I’ve used the techniques described in this book in my own consulting practice to solve many business problems. For example, I use Excel to help the Dallas Mavericks NBA basketball team evaluate referees, players, and lineups. During the last 15 years I have also taught Excel business modeling and data analysis classes to MBA students at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. (As proof of my teaching excellence, I have won MBA teaching awards for 25 consecutive years, and have won the school’s overall MBA teaching award five times.) I would like to also note that 95 percent of MBA students at Indiana University take my spreadsheet modeling class even though it is an elective.
The book you have in your hands is an attempt to make these successful classes available to everyone. Here is why I think the book will help you learn how to use Excel more effectively:
■ The materials have been tested while teaching thousands of analysts working for Fortune 500 corporations and government agencies, including the U.S. Army.
■ I’ve written the book as though I am talking to the reader. I hope this approach transfers the spirit of a successful classroom environment to the written page.
■ I teach by example, which makes concepts easier to master. These examples are constructed to have a real-world feel. Many of the examples are based on questions sent to me by employees of Fortune 500 corporations.
■ For the most part, I lead you through the approaches I take in Excel to set up and answer a wide range of data analysis and business questions. You can follow along with my explanations by referring to the sample worksheets that accompany each example However, I have also included template files for the book’s examples on the companion website. If you want to, you can use these templates to work directly with Excel and complete each example on your own.
■ For the most part, the chapters are short and organized around a single concept. You should be able to master the content of most chapters with at most two hours of study. By looking at the questions that begin each chapter, you’ll gain an idea about the types of problems you’ll be able to solve after mastering a chapter’s topics.
■ In addition to learning about Excel formulas, you will learn some important math in a fairly painless fashion. For example, you’ll learn about statistics, forecasting, optimization models, Monte Carlo simulation, inventory modeling, and the mathematics of waiting in line. You will also learn about some recent developments in business thinking, such as real options, customer value, and mathematical pricing models.
■ At the end of each chapter, I’ve provided a group of practice problems (over 600 in total) that you can work through on your own. These problems will help you master the information in each chapter. Answers to all problems are included in files on the book’s companion website. Many of these problems are based on actual problems faced by business analysts at Fortune 500 companies.
■ Most of all, learning should be fun. If you read this book, you will learn how to predict U.S. presidential elections, how to set football point spreads, how to determine the probability of winning at craps, and how to determine the probability of a specific team winning an NCAA tournament. These examples are interesting and fun, and they also teach you a lot about solving business problems with Excel.
■ To follow along with this book, you must have Excel 2010. Previous versions of this book can be used with Excel 2003 or Excel 2007.
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