What does Cloud Modeller do?
The forecast shown below is completely generated by Cloud Modeller simply by pressing one button on the toolbar.
When we think about it, this forecast has a Structure, i.e. column headings in this case are dates extending out several years into the future. It also has names of row headings going down the page on the left-hand side. We obviously know the gist of this as it is our model and normally we would just draw this structure directly into the worksheet.
But if we tell Cloud Modeller about this ‘gist’, we can see a Tree Representation of the Forecast structure appear in an Excel form as follows:
This mirrors all of the row headings in a tidy nested tree – in fact you can add to the tree by right clicking and adding more branches and leaves or you can tweak your forecast and the tree will adapt immediately – in other words the Tree and the Forecast Output are bidirectionally synchronised.
Parameters We can see in the screenshot that a parameter box defines the start and end of all of the date column headings so at this point Cloud Modeller can generate a 40-year x 12 month forecast (one of our customers does this) of Wind Turbine cash flows etc. Experienced modellers will use parameters for Wind Speed, Cost of Turbines, CAGR – or indeed anything needed. Cloud Modeller provides a tidy central place to hold and define these rather than having them dispersed throughout millions of cells. Parameters can be Global – across all of your models or highly specific to one scenario – you can define these freely in standard Excel syntax.
Business Rules Normally we would now express a formula to define the cash income from a wind turbine based on parameters such as estimated wind speed, sale price of electricity etc.
Then we would replicate this – the same formula – across 480 cells. This is possibly the single biggest weakness in Excel
Although it is easy initially to replicate the formula, when you subsequently wish to amend the model you have to rework this replication across hundreds of rows and then potentially across dozens of worksheets.
There is a better way.
Cloud Modeller looks at your formula and turns it into an Excel syntax that does away with the absolute cell references (A1 * C2) that cause such problems in large models. It achieves this by automatically giving every row heading in the model (branch on the tree) a name. This is similar to the named ranges in standard Excel but automatically maintained by Cloud Modeller.
Now in the screen below we see the syntax abstracted to ‘Sticks Net Cash Flow = Sticks Net Cash inflow – Sticks Net Cash outflow’. Cloud Modeller already knows that the model is for 480 months so it generates 480 standard Excel formulae in the forecast output sheet.
The Business Rule is an abstraction of a formula – it says, ‘you don’t have to tell me to replicate myself 480 times, I know this already!’
One business rule generates 480 formulae – define once, generate many.
Key benefits of Model Generation
Cloud Modeller abstracts a model into its logical components – Structure, Parameters and Business rules – the gist of any model.
The gist lets Cloud Modeller generate the desired forecast, budget – or any type of model. Editing a condensed gist is more efficient than editing millions of cells. It is much easier for new team members to comprehend the gist than trying to decode linked worksheet formulae.
By defining all of your models in one place you can simplify version control enormously. You eliminate having to keep dozens of folders with laboriously named spreadsheets that no one is certain reflect a single version of the truth.
You can now have multiple scenarios for the same model e.g. the ‘aggressive’ revenue expansion, the ‘conservative’ … What’s important is that they can all share 99% of the same structure, business rules and parameters and Cloud Modeller will store the 1% difference (e.g. a different CAGR for each) separately. In turn this means that several large scenarios will be generated but not have to be replicated.
These multiple scenarios for any one model only store the different parameters – you avoid redundant duplication of worksheets and their subsequent upkeep.
Having Business rules stored once rather than Formulae replicated thousands of times means that data quality and integrity can be assured rather than just hoped for.
Cloud Modeller is 100% standard Excel so there is nothing new to learn no staff retraining and above all no expensive software implementations needed.
What Excel problems does Cloud Modeller solve?
⦁ Excel is an excellent single user desktop tool but …
⦁ Multiple users cannot work on the same workbook in parallel so …
⦁ Multiple versions on everyone’s desktops proliferate so …
⦁ Much work is spent in copying and pasting everyone’s copies together
⦁ Excel does not scale to large volumes and multiple versions
⦁ Data spread over multiple worksheets and workbooks leads to broken links …
⦁ Storing different workbooks in different file locations means problems in trying to recreate the right version.
⦁ Large complex models become very hard for anyone other than their original author to comprehend – even then it can be difficult …
There is an even longer list than this of fundamental problems that Excel cannot overcome. Surprisingly, 40 years ago, commercial databases had similar problems based on hard coded file references which led to data corruption, version problems – just like Excel. The invention of relational databases eliminated all of these problems and CloudModeller uses this technology to ‘graft’ the benefits on to Excel and make it Enterprise grade. The database acronym RASSIM encapsulates these proven capabilities – Reliability, Auditability, Security, Scalability, Integrity and Manageability; CloudModeller leverages all RASSIM capabilities.