Spreadsheet Scenario Analysis Made Easy

One of the most common, and most important, parts of building a financial model is creating and analyzing scenarios. But even just producing a few simple scenarios can take hours of your time, when you consider all of the repetitive effort put into iterating through various combinations of assumptions, reviewing the results, and then organizing and formatting it all to present to others.

That’s why we created our new Scenario Tool. Whether your spreadsheet is just for you or has an audience of thousands, ClearFactr is making scenario creation, management, comparison, and collaboration easier than ever before.

You might ask “but doesn’t Excel have a scenario manager? And doesn’t Google Sheets already let people collaborate in the same spreadsheet at the same time?”

“Yes” to both questions, but those products weren’t built specifically for financial modeling, and so they fall short on workflows that are critical to your modeling success. Allow me to explain…

ClearFactr helps you gain understanding more rapidly

We all know that making just a few small changes to the assumptions in your model could cause hundreds, or even thousands, of your outputs to change. Tracking and comparing all of those changes requires a sophisticated tool. But more importantly, being able to quickly make sense of those changes, in context, requires a tool that is also highly intuitive to use.

With our new Scenario Tool, we have married sophistication with simplicity in a way that will help you understand each of your scenarios in significantly less time.

To start with, ClearFactr lets you see the differences between your scenarios in context:

A 2-scenario comparison with differences overlaid on top of the spreadsheet. Changes are color coded according to magnitude and unchanged cells are grayscaled by default.

ClearFactr also lets you toggle between many different views with just a few clicks. See the differences in absolute or percentage terms, view them in a list that you can sort and filter, drill down to the key drivers of the changes, and more.

Sure, maybe you could do all of that in Excel or Google Sheets, but it would take you many tedious hours. And you’d wind up with a much bigger spreadsheet, one that is more likely to break later on. (See also, “spreadsheet risk.”)

ClearFactr helps you collaborate more efficiently

When it comes to financial modeling, collaboration requires a particular balance of freedom and control.

Giving your audience too much freedom can get you all in trouble, as they can accidentally break your model or overwrite your work. This is a common problem with how Google Sheets’ sharing functionality works, for example. But giving your audience too little control will quickly kill the potential benefits of the collaboration process.

Because ClearFactr was specifically designed for financial modeling, it strikes the right balance for that purpose:

  • Shared spreadsheets are automatically locked down in a way that allows your audience to experiment with their own inputs/assumptions but that prevents them from breaking the model’s structure (i.e. the formula logic).
  • Your audience can save their own changes to your model, but only as separate scenarios. In other words, it is impossible for them to overwrite your work without your approval. As the model owner, you then have the option to merge any of the changes they made back into your model (it takes just seconds with our scenario merge feature).
  • Everyone’s work happens in the same place. This means everyone has access to the latest version of your spreadsheet at all times, and that all changes are fully version controlled. It also means that you can add/revoke access to your spreadsheet at any time, with ease.

ClearFactr helps your audience more effectively understand your work as well

Even if collaboration is not your goal, our new Scenario Tool works equally well as a presentation tool. The same features that can help you more rapidly understand your work can also help your audience do the same, since they will have access to all of the same visualizations and viewing options for each of the scenarios you share with them.

Additionally, ClearFactr also makes it easy to see what happens to more than two scenarios at a time. Here’s a chart of a projected deficit (or surplus) across 5 scenarios, automatically generated in seconds:

Looks like addressing healthcare is a potential solution!

Learn more

We can even set you up with a way to embed that functionality into your own website or web app (check out a live demo here).

There’s no way we could cover all of the benefits and features of our new Scenario Tool in just one blog post. You need to give it a try to see for yourself.

If you have any suggestions or issues at all, please do not hesitate to reach out for assistance.

Originally published at https://www.clearfactr.com/blog/spreadsheet_scenario_analysis_made_easy