Spreadsheet Models for Managers

Getting Access to Spreadsheet Models for Managers

If Spreadsheet Models for Managersyou use Excel to model businesses, business processes, or business transactions, this course will change your life. You’ll learn how to create tools for yourself that will amaze even you. Unrestricted use of this material is available in two ways.

As a stand-alone Web site
It resides on your computer, and you can use it anywhere. No need for Internet access.
At this Web site
If you have access to the Internet whenever you want to view this material, you can purchase on-line access. Unlimited usage. I’m constantly making improvements and you’ll get them as soon as they’re available.

To Order On Line

Order "Spreadsheet Models for Managers, on-line edition, one month" by credit card, for USD 69.95 each, using our secure server, and receive download instructions by return email.
Order "Spreadsheet Models for Managers, on-line edition, three months" by credit card, for USD 199.00 each, using our secure server, and receive download instructions by return email.
Order "Spreadsheet Models for Managers, downloadable hyperbook edition" by credit card, for USD 199.00 each, using our secure server, and receive download instructions by return email.

To Order by Mail

Make your check payable to Chaco Canyon Consulting, for the amount indicated:
  • For the download: USD 199.00
  • For access online for three months: USD 199.00
  • For access online for one month: USD 69.95
And send it to:
Chaco Canyon Consulting
700 Huron Avenue, Suite 19C
Cambridge, MA 02138

To use the course software you’ll need some other applications, which you very probably already have. By placing your order, you’re confirming that you have the software you need, as described on this site.

Spreadsheet Models for Managers

This reading is especially relevant for Session 1How to Work

We all have our own preferred styles of working. Perhaps you like to work steadily, doing a little bit of your homework every day. Or perhaps you like to wait until the day before an assignment is due before you begin working on it. As you begin this course, take some time to design how you’ll work on it.

How will you allocate your time to get your homework done? Where do you start? When do you start? Do you work alone or with others? What if you’re confused about something? How can you find answers to your questions? And how about your Course Project? As you work on your project proposal, you might want to consider some peculiarities of this course — taking them into account will lead to a more successful and effective design for your own personal work style.

Even though you’re “taking” this course in a self-study format, we do recommend that you maintain a regular weekly pace. If you take breaks between the modules, or sessions, of this course, you risk forgetting what you learned by the time the break ends. This will slow your progress. So we’ll assume that you do about one session per week.

Start early

Inventiveness is very helpful
Since the homework problems do require some inventiveness and creativity, you might find it easier to complete them if you start on them early, rather than right before they’re due. Inventiveness and creativity are easier when you have time to think, so start your homework early.
Post questions early
If you have a question about the homework, you can send your question to Rick Brenner. In general, we try to respond within one business day. Since we cannot commit to replies over the weekend, you can get more benefit from this question-and-answer service when you start to work on your homework early. Of course, we do encourage all students to offer assistance to each other.
Your right brain works all the time
You can jump-start your homework effort by engaging your right brain early. This is the part of your brain that’s creative and inventive. To get it started, read the homework on the day following the session. Think about how you would do each problem. Spend no more than 10 or 20 minutes doing this. A few hours later, you’ll find that you’ve made progress already! You’ll have at least one or two insights, or a couple of ideas to try, and you’ll have spent only the time it took to read and understand the problems. Some time later, spend an hour experimenting. If something is unclear, post a question to the email discussion list.

Have an experimental attitude

An experiment in progress at NASAIf you aren’t sure how something works, whether it’s a technique we’re teaching you, or a feature of Excel, experiment with it. Keep two workbooks open in Excel — one that you intend to hold your solution, and one that you use for experiments. For example, if you’re unsure how the Excel function INT works, try it! Give yourself permission to try things, to make mistakes, and to try again. That’s the fastest way to learn.

Be organized

You’ll accumulate a large number of Excel files in this course: homework, graded homework, demonstrations, solutions, slides, and so on. We recommend that you keep them in a hierarchy organized by session. To help get you started, here’s a zip archive containing an empty hierarchy.

Use email to clear up confusion

You can send email queries to rbrenner@ChacoCanyon.com, and we will respond in a timely manner.

When you do have a question, it’s best to post it because it’s very likely that other people have the same question, or that when they see your question, they might be as puzzled as you are. Posting your question ensures that everyone sees both your question and our answer. If you see a question posted by a fellow student, and you do know the answer, we encourage you to respond. Don’t worry about being wrong — beyond being respectful of others’ time and effort, and protective of your own reputation. If your reply to a question is incomplete or misleading in some way, we’ll straighten things out. And we don’t grade you on your postings.

Look ahead, and be willing to go back

Most of the problems in the homework contain several parts, and it’s usually possible to work each part in many ways. How do you decide which of several possible ways to solve a problem? To answer this question, look ahead. If you read the whole problem first, you may get some hints.

A hunter scanning the terrainLet’s say, for example, that you can see two ways to solve part (a). One method requires that you compute some intermediate result, and the second method is more direct. Generally, you might prefer the more direct method. But if you look ahead to part (b) you might find that you absolutely have to have that intermediate result from (a), in order to complete part (b). So even if you work (a) using the direct approach, you’ll definitely have to compute that intermediate result anyway. In this kind of situation, the direct approach to (a) offers no real advantage. The cleanest solution to the problem as a whole is the more roundabout approach to (a), using the intermediate result.

When you approach a problem, you rarely know in advance which of the various approaches is best. It always pays to look ahead, to consider what you’ll eventually need, and to make design choices that are most helpful from the whole-problem perspective. This applies not only to your work in this course, but also to all real problems you might encounter at work. Whenever you realize that you’ve made a poor choice earlier in your work, go back and fix it. You’ll be happier with the result, and you’ll remember the lesson better for next time.

Avoid retyping homework problem data

Many of the homework problems contain tabular data that you must enter into Excel before you can solve the problem. You can always type the numbers into a range of cells in Excel, but that’s a lot of useless work. And you might mistype some of the numbers — which could lead to a wrong answer. Instead of retyping the data, click the Retrieve homework data 2007+ format icon next to the table to download the file homeworkdata.xlsx. Then load the file into Excel, locate the worksheet corresponding to the problem you’re working on, and copy the data from there into your homework solution. When you paste, be sure to use the command Home>Paste>Paste Values (Excel 2007+), to paste only the Values, which avoids carrying along the formats into your homework solution.

Print course materials

A printerAlthough we don’t distribute printed course materials, you might find it handy to print copies of some of the files you receive for this course. It’s most useful to print the Web pages and session notes. Most of us have limited screen space, and if we try to look at the Excel files and the Web pages at the same time, we end up flipping back and forth a lot between Excel and the Web browser. This can be inconvenient and distracting.

For most sessions, you’ll find that it’s best to have either a second screen or a printed copy of the session notes and a printed copy of the problem set. The hardcopies are especially helpful if you want to make notes — you can write directly on the hardcopy. To make notes on the PowerPoint slides, remember that you have access to Notes view.

Last Modified: Wednesday, 27-Apr-2016 04:15:26 EDT

Deciding What to Read

The first homework assignment has a fair amount of reading attached to it. Some students feel that the best approach is to read it all, and then try to do the homework. For most of us, such an approach doesn’t work very well.

Before you begin the course, read the general material, such as “Getting Started,” “Software You Need for This Course,” and “How to Work.”

Later, as you begin the homework, let the homework drive your reading choices. For instance, the first homework assignment does require that you master certain techniques. Read “Names” and “The Ripple Principle.” Then, if something confuses you, read up on it: examples are “The Basics of Recalculation” and “References.” Learning something when you need it, and only when you need it, is usually the best way to go.

Avoid Redundant Parentheses

Parentheses sometimes make a real difference. For instance A1*B1+2 is very different from A1*(B1+2). But A1*(B1*2) is exactly the same as A1*B1*2. When the parentheses don’t make any difference in the value of the result, it’s not usually a good idea to include them. They tend to make the formulas harder to read, and there’s always the chance that you’ll put them in the wrong place. More