Financial Estimation using Microsoft Excel and SharePoint

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Notes from the 2014 Walberg Innovation Awards

It was a privilege to participate in last month’s Walberg Innovation Award competition. All together there were eleven nominees submitted and I was a key team member in three of those submissions (!) As previous blog posts have mentioned, the award is named after Bjorn Walberg, a UMT Senior Vice President that died in a tragic accident in 2013. Bjorn was a great man with tremendous professional knowledge and a unique sense of humor.

I was lucky enough to work with Bjorn on several projects and we had innovated together on creative ways to calculate true FTE resource demand and capacity. So from a personal perspective, it was very special for me to submit projects I was proud of to a competition bearing his name.

The first project nominated for the award that I was involved in, dealt with a way to integrate the calculation power of MS Excel into a cost estimation solution. Excel has been the tool of choice for millions of business analysts and every day business users to create simple yet sophisticated formula- based spreadsheets and derive business results.

My colleagues and I built a capability to use an Excel spreadsheet as the calculation engine for parameter-based cost estimations. Users interact with the engine not directly via Excel, but rather via a SharePoint portal (leveraging all of SharePoint’s enterprise benefits, e.g. security, accessibility, etc.) Parameters can be entered and the cost estimation results as well as what-if scenarios are derived in real-time. The results can be then saved and reused as the final estimation for budgeting and decision making processes. The solution is complementary to UMT 360′s project financial management tools.

This may sound complex, but in fact it was a simple and elegant solution that took advantage of the latest web technologies. It was very rewarding work and the project ended up receiving second-place!

What about the other two innovations I helped work on? You will find out in my next post.