# How to Do a What If Analysis in Excel: A Comprehensive Guide

How to Do a What If Analysis in Excel

Ready to dive into the world of "What If" analysis in Excel? It’s a powerful tool that lets you play around with different variables to see how changes can impact your data. In simple terms, it helps you make informed decisions by forecasting possible outcomes. Here’s how you can perform a What If analysis in Excel, step-by-step.

## Step by Step Tutorial on How to Do a What If Analysis in Excel

Performing a What If analysis in Excel involves a series of steps to analyze how changing one or more variables impacts your results. Follow these steps to get started.

Open the Excel file that contains the data you want to analyze.

First things first, you need to have your data ready. This could be anything from sales figures to budgeting expenses. Make sure your spreadsheet is organized so that you can easily locate the data points you’ll be changing.

### Step 2: Navigate to the Data Tab

Click on the “Data” tab in the Excel ribbon.

The Data tab is where most of the advanced data analysis tools reside. Here, you’ll find the What If analysis options you need. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with this tab if you haven’t already.

### Step 3: Select What If Analysis

Click on the “What If Analysis” button in the Data Tools group.

Under the Data Tools group, you’ll see an option labeled "What If Analysis." Clicking this will open a menu with different types of What If analysis tools like Scenario Manager, Goal Seek, and Data Table.

### Step 4: Choose Goal Seek

Select “Goal Seek” from the drop-down menu.

Goal Seek is one of the most straightforward tools for What If analysis. It allows you to set a desired outcome and lets Excel calculate the necessary input value to achieve that result. This is especially useful for simple, single-variable problems.

### Step 5: Enter Variables

Input the cell references for the Set cell, To value, and By changing cell fields.

In the Goal Seek dialog box, you’ll need to enter the cell reference for the value you’re aiming to change (Set cell), the desired value (To value), and the cell whose value you want to adjust to achieve your goal (By changing cell).

### Step 6: Click OK

Click “OK” to start the Goal Seek process.

After you’ve entered all the necessary information, clicking "OK" will make Excel calculate the new value for the variable cell, showing you how to achieve your desired outcome.

Once you’ve completed these steps, Excel will modify the selected variable to meet your goal. You’ll be able to see the immediate impact of changes in your spreadsheet, making it easier to make informed decisions.

## Tips for How to Do a What If Analysis in Excel

• Use Scenario Manager for complex analyses involving multiple variables.
• Save different scenarios to compare outcomes side-by-side.
• Utilize Data Tables to analyze how changing two variables simultaneously affects your results.
• Always double-check your cell references to ensure accuracy.
• Create a backup of your original spreadsheet before making significant changes.

### What is the purpose of a What If analysis in Excel?

A What If analysis helps you explore different scenarios by changing certain variables to see how those changes affect the outcome.

### Can I use What If analysis for financial forecasting?

Absolutely! It’s especially useful for budgeting, sales forecasting, and other financial projections.

### Is Goal Seek the only tool for What If analysis?

No, Excel also offers Scenario Manager and Data Tables for more complex analyses.

### How can I save my What If analysis?

You can save different scenarios using the Scenario Manager feature, which allows you to compare multiple outcomes side-by-side.

### Can I undo a Goal Seek operation?

Yes, simply press Ctrl + Z after performing the Goal Seek to revert the cell to its original value.

## Summary

2. Navigate to the Data Tab.
3. Select What If Analysis.
4. Choose Goal Seek.
5. Enter Variables.
6. Click OK.

## Conclusion

Performing a What If analysis in Excel is like being a detective, searching for clues to unravel the mystery of data outcomes. It’s a powerful way to visualize the impact of potential changes, helping you make better, data-driven decisions. Whether you’re a student doing homework, a business owner planning your next quarter, or just someone who loves playing with numbers, knowing how to do a What If analysis in Excel can be a game-changer.

Want to dive deeper? Explore Excel’s Scenario Manager and Data Tables for more complex forecasting. They can handle multiple variables and give you broader insights into your data.

So go ahead, open up that spreadsheet and start experimenting! The more you use these tools, the more confident you’ll become in making predictions and understanding your data. Plus, who knows? You might just find the key to unlocking the future of your financial success.