Whatif models

Many consider the what-if model category to be the epitome of spreadsheets at their best. The ability to instantly recalculate thousands of formulas makes spreadsheet software the ideal tool for financial modeling and other models that depend on the values of several variables. If you think about it, just about any spreadsheet that contains formulas is a what-if model (which are often distributed as templates). Changing the value of a cell used in a formula is akin to asking "what if . . .?" My view of this category, however, is a bit more sophisticated. It includes spreadsheets designed exclusively for systematically analyzing the effects of various inputs.

What-if models are often good candidates for user-oriented applications, especially if the model will be used for a lengthy period of time. Creating a good user interface on an application can make it very easy for anyone to use, including computer-illiterates. As an example, you might create an interface that lets the user provide names for various sets of assumptions and then lets you instantly view the results of a selected scenario and create a perfectly formatted summary chart with the click of a button.

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