Data Consolidation & What-If Analysis in Microsoft Excel
Excel 2010 Tools
Data consolidation and What-If Analysis are two completely different tools available in Excel 2010. However, there are situations in which these two tools may be used together. First, let’s define the terms. Data consolidation in simple terms is the process of combining multiple sources of like data into one larger source called a dataset. What-If Analysis is a powerful tool that can be used to analyze said dataset (raw data) and convert it into useful information.
A Small Company:
Let’s take the scenario of a small company that is performing so well that they find themselves in the position of having to upgrade their data management systems to a more mature and robust Database Management System (DBMS). For several years, this company has managed each of their thousands of customer’s records by creating a separate Excel workbook with various worksheets for each customer. They now have thousands of Excel documents to manage, and because of their rapid growth, they wish to move this data into a SQL Server DBMS.
Excel’s data consolidation ability makes this an easy task by creating a data table in a new workbook that can be populated with similar records from all of the customer workbooks in order to combine all customer data into one massive dataset – as long as the number of records does not exceed 1,048,576 “the maximum number of rows available” in Excel (Grauer, Poatsy, Mulbery, & Hogan, 2011, p. 71). Once the data has been consolidated into and Excel worksheet, it can be sorted, “cleaned”, filtered, and then exported into the SQL Server Database.
Now that the company has moved the data from all of their thousands of spreadsheets into a database system, they will be able to use Excel 2010’s What-If Analysis tool to analyze various scenarios against all of their customer records instead of one at a time, or just a few. They will now query the SQL Server for the specific data they need to analyze, extract it to an Excel workbook, and run the What-If Scenario analysis to determine the outcome of various possibilities.
Grauer, R. T., Poatsy, M. S., Mulbery, K., & Hogan, L. S. (2011). Exploring Microsoft Office Excel 2010 Comprehensive. Pearson Learning Solutions.