Excel Training: Use Goal Seek for What If Scenarios

Excel has some great functions for “What if…” scenarios. One tool that can be used is the Excel Goal Seek. This allows you to choose any current formula and set the answer value to your own goal.

e.g. If you have a formula that works out how much profit you make from selling items, such as £20, but you would like it to be £30 profit, Goal Seek can change various cells to achieve that £30 goal.

Below is an example similar to ones we use on our Excel Training courses based in London. We have a simple loan calculator that uses the PMT function to work out monthly loan repayments.

Open the Goal Seek from the Data Ribbon, Data Tools Section, What If Analysis.

The Goal Seek dialog appears. Fill out as follows: Enter the cell you wish to set your goal to in Set Cell Field. Enter the figure you want the Goal to achieve in the To Value Field. Enter the variable (cell) you would like Excel to change to reach your set Goal in the By Changing Cell Field.

Click OK

The Sheet content will change to reflect the Goals set. You will be presented with another dialog box, Click OK to keep the changes, or Click Cancel to revert the cells back to original values.

Excel 2010 Courses – Calculating Times

One of the most asked questions during our Excel 2010 Training Courses in London has to be the subject of calculating times.

One important issue is how time values are typed in Excel. This should always be as
9:00 AM or 10:30 PM. There must be a colon separating the hours:minutes and if you are specifying AM or PM there MUST be a space between the minutes and the AM or PM.

In the example below we wish to calculate elapsed time.

The formula would be the later time minus the earlier time. E.g. 10:25 AM – 9:00 AM

The result will be formatted incorrectly. To format to show 1.25 you Select the Cell with the answer. Right-Click, From the context menu select Format Cells

Select Custom from the Category list, then choose the Type [h]:mm:ss

Note: You MUST select the format with the square brackets around the h.
Optional, you can remove the :ss from the end, unless you need to see the Seconds.

Click OK. This will display the correct format.

The other problem people on Excel Training Courses experience is when the time spans over midnight. This can give negative results. The secret is a function called MOD.

The last example from the above screen shot shows 10 PM from the previous evening and an end time the following day of 6 AM. The calculation would still be the later date/time minus the earlier one e.g. 6 AM – 10 PM

However, include this within the MOD function as below:

Type: =MOD(Latest time – Earlier time, 1 )

This will give the correct Hours/Minutes elapsed between the times.