Create a decision support system for a small business startup. This could include several what-if scenarios. Include an analysis of capital financing options.

Develop a Microsoft Excel application that provides support for decision making.  The application must be useful to someone, which means it needs to help someone analyze data and make appropriate decisions based on the data. Don’t waste your time creating something that has no purpose.

Demonstrate your ability to use Excel by integrating as many features of Excel as feasible.  The project must be easy to understand and have a professional appearance. Use comments or provide instructions to help someone use the application.

Examples and ideas

  • Make a tool for a landlord. Pretend you are a landlord or make it for a real one: Keep track of current renters, when people will be leaving, how many rooms you need to fill, repairs, cost for repairs, history of repairs, utility trends, who is on which payment schedule, or anything else you think is useful to a landlord.

 

  • Create something that helps you or others choose what car to buy. You could include data about recalls, TSBs, complaints from other owners, 0-60 times, horsepower, costs such as insurance, depreciation, repairs, gas, etc. Show that one car is a better than another given certain criteria such as 4 door full-sized between x-y price range.

 

  • Create a financial portfolio analyzer. Using real data from real securities, show comparative performance measures over time. In addition to analyzing the stock or bond performance, you might include a sheet for the business performance.

 

  • Create a decision support system for a small business startup. This could include several what-if scenarios. Include an analysis of capital financing options.

 

  • Create a decision support system for buying a house. Include variables such as commuting distance, property tax rates (use real data), mortgage payments at varying principal amounts and interest rates, proximity to shopping and other services, schools, etc.

 

 

Choose something that uses some sort of data. This way it will be easier to use charts and graphs and use formulas such as statistical analysis or nested-if statements. You can create your own data, make it up or get it from the Internet. Keep in mind that you should be able to show that your project accomplishes something even if it is for your own personal satisfaction.

At the end of each chapter is a set of “Practice Exercises.”  Many of them suggest applications to solve real business problems that can be developed in Excel.  Use these suggestions to help you brainstorm ideas for your own project.

 

 

Minimum requirements for Excel features

  • IF-statements
  • Multiple sheets
  • Simple formulas (e.g., sum, avg, pmt, fv, stdev, median) – use cell reference where appropriate, including absolute references and references to other sheets
  • At least two charts or graphs
  • Attractive appearance – remove background grid, add a watermark, use color, or whatever is appropriate

 

Advanced functionality (at least 3 of the following – any combination)

  • Complex formulas (e.g., nested-ifs-ands-ors, V- and H-lookups, IS functions)
  • Data Table (NOT excel table)
  • Sort function
  • Pivot table
  • Scenario tools
  • Macros or VBA

 

External data requirement

  • Bring in some data via an SQL query, Web query, or XML data import

Other requirements

  • Title page/Introduction/Summary sheet that may include navigation instructions, tasks involved, project title, your names, sources of data, research involved, etc.
  • Conclusion sheet or a sheet that explains what was accomplished. (Use this sheet to tell me where (sheet and cell location) you met the requirements.)

 

This project will demonstrate skill and proficiency in Excel. You should make it something you would be proud to show to a potential employer in a job interview.

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