Excel is a useful tool for a variety of business problems. But sensible, structured and error-free solutions not only require patience and dedication, they also require solid Excel skills. In "Using Excel for Business Analysis", Danielle Stein Fairhurst lays the groundwork for a more professional use of the spreadsheet software.
The tagline hints at where the focus is: "A Guide to Financial Modelling Fundamentals". And with "Financial Models" the author means exactly what this website is about: structured, flexible solutions to business problems, based on Excel. The most typical example would be a business plan that automatically reflects changes in inputs and assumptions in a forecast for the next X years. But the field includes other areas, such as management accounting, benchmarking, risk management, project analyses et cetera.
(Not only) from ABS to XNPV
The contents loosely follow common best practices that have been established within the financial modelling arena over time and have been propagated by, for example, the FAST standard: Stein Fairhurst explains how you should plan and structure Excel models; which rules you should follow during implementation; which formulas are suitable for which problems (and from which ones you should better keep away); how you can effectively audit models of third-parties; and which diagrams work best to brush up your outputs.
In general, the book leaves a very good impression by not being a boring function reference, but rather explaining all the classics like SUMIF, VLOOKUP & co. in a concise "best of" collection, if you will – which is absolutely sufficient for ambitious Excel users. Stein Fairhurst focuses on a wholesome approach to effectively and reliably model, plan and optimise financial and business issues in Excel. Her vast experience from practice and teaching (as the Principal Consultant of Plum Solutions) shines through on every page. For both "newbies" and advanced modellers, the book is a definitive must-read.
Although e-books have almost taken over, it is worth noting that Wiley finally realised that bulky hard-covers with thick paper are just a horrible decision for show-and-tell instruction books. "Using Excel for Business Analysis" comes as a flexible soft cover and you can have it opened up next to your computer while you follow the examples.
Conclusion: "Using Excel for Business Analysis" by Danielle Stein Fairhurst is one of the best books available for serious financial modelling on a professional level. The author shares her rich experience and introduces common best practices in a very reader-friendly way.
Danielle Stein Fairhurst: Using Excel for Business Analysis – A Guide to Financial Modelling Fundamentals
John Wiley & Sons