# Can I Do An If Then Formula In Excel Goal Seeking in Excel

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## Goal Seeking in Excel

Microsoft Excel is an incredibly powerful calculator. You can create spreadsheets with 10,000 rows of data and calculate small totals instantly. Yes, if you change your data, any totals will be updated automatically. No doubt that is not very impressive. If we have quarterly revenue of \$1m, and secure another \$20k, we can update our subtotal without summarizing revenue from scratch.

So it’s amazing that Excel can do the same thing with math functions. If you’ve ever plotted a chart in Excel, you may know that you can add the right line. These lines of fit are calculated using a method known as regression. Basically, you need to calculate the distance of each point from the line, and subtract the sum. The calculations are more sophisticated but the main point is that, every time you change the data, you have to do the analysis again.

In a well-designed spreadsheet, any product can be calculated from the raw data. However, that is not always enough. Sometimes the output is fixed and the raw data is variable. Let’s say you run an investment company and you want to provide your clients with fixed returns. An Excel expert can create a very complex model to calculate the potential return on investment over a given period of time. You can calculate the internal rate of return offered to customers.

The problem is that you are not interested in the returns given to customers; that is, after all, it is fixed. Instead you are concerned with how much money you expect to get from the investment fund, while giving your investors a satisfactory return. If you have \$1 and invest quarterly, you can calculate your profit using a simple formula.

Unfortunately the internal rate of return is time dependent so the amount you can withdraw depends on when you take it. Suffice it to say, the only way to calculate the amount you can take, for example, over the half-life of a fund, is through trial and error. If you are evaluating a number of investment opportunities, it can be a time-consuming process.

That’s why Microsoft has created an Intent to Find function to help your spreadsheet development. Since Excel 2007, it has been available on the Data ribbon. In earlier versions of Excel, it was located in the Tools menu. It gets right to the point. It asks you what value you would like to adjust (in this case the investor’s return), what you would like to adjust, and asks you what you would like to change. All fields can accept cell references. Then it will calculate the contribution by trial and error.

It has one serious limitation. Seeking a goal is not a path. It does not remain permanently in the spreadsheet or in the selected cells. So you need to re-use the Find object every time you change the spreadsheet. Often this is acceptable because you designed the model specifically to calculate that one parameter. Having said that, there will be times when this is not enough.

The good news is that Goal Search can be accessed and run in Visual Basic. An Excel programmer can write a short script to ensure that variables are recalculated every time you change your spreadsheet. As Goal Search takes a significant amount of time, this can negatively affect the performance of your page. The beauty of Intent Access in Visual Basic is that you can disable all processes, such as screen refresh, that cause the function to run late.

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