Original Post date: Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Deciding whether Excel® is a friend or foe is a hefty topic, so I decided to dedicate several blog posts to the issue!  This first posts addresses all of PRICE’s new boundless Companion Applications.  The second will address my experience using the applications with our customers (Do’s and Don’ts); and lastly, the third and final blog will wrap it up and explain a more in-depth large project engine that PRICE is currently testing.

 As we all know Microsoft Excel® is a powerhouse tool.  It allows you to house data, format it in many ways and to calculate hefty loads for analysis. Almost every tool used today integrates with Excel.  So, for a lot of estimating tools on the market, the question begs -Is Excel competition or is it a tool that can be used to leverage and help create limitless possibilities for our customers?

Within the TruePlanning® framework there are many Excel-friendly uses and functionalities that make the “new user” estimating experience a breeze.  Users can easily transfer established skills and apply them inside the TruePlanning® framework.  For instance the charting options of pie, bar, scatter or line graphs are inside TruePlanning®; and the tabular formats of tables can be produced and sent to Excel within a few clicks of a button. The copy and paste, and grid formatting functions can be found inside TruePlanning® and seen just as in Excel.

Since the release of TruePlanning® 2012 SR1, the development team has made Excel more than just a “friend”.  In fact Excel is now a “best friend” thanks to the two way communication between the framework and the Microsoft product. Through the uses of Visual Basic Applications (VBA) we have created a list of companion applications to help our users increase productivity with TruePlanning.

To name a few of our friendly excel companion applications:

  • “Sensitivity Analyzer”-- Allows the users to be able to pinpoint which inputs are the biggest cost drivers in the in the estimate, then analyzed the effect each input has to its subset of costs or the overall costs of the estimate.
  • “Activity Mapper” – Develops a format for a user to easily map the TtuePlanning standard Product Breakdown structure (PBS) to your organizations Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). It also has the functionality to allow you to send it to the ACEIT Application for all you Army Customers or Contractors that work within that realm!
  • “Excel two ways Interface” – My Favorite! This application allows users to complete their whole estimate in Excel. From building the WBS, to inputting all the necessary inputs, adding all the spreading information, even calculating lifecycle inputs, and/or adjusting and applying calibration.  Users can run TruePlanning® in the background to get a “TRUE” Estimate but never have to really enter inside the TruePlanning® framework. It’s like having a shadow! TruePlanning(R) is always there behind you computing!

PRICE offers additional applications that are developed through Excel VBA like Parametric Data Forms, “At Risk” and “Crystal Ball” interfaces! So there is a multitude of “Companion Apps” that TruePlanning has provided for our users! PRICE has re- coined Apple’s phrase -- “We have a Companion APP for that”.

 So Excel is not a “Foe” but a “Great Friend “which can be used through add-ins and VBA to create applications that help make your job easier – and more importantly -  your estimates faster and more efficient using PRICE Systems’ TruePlanning Software Suite!

Stay Tuned for Excel Friend or Foe Part 2 – Actual Companion Application Stress Tests…..