Like scenarios, Data > Multiple Operations is a planning tool for “what if” questions. Unlike a scenario, the Multiple Operations tool does not present the alternate versions in the same cells or with a drop-down list. Instead, the Multiple Operations tool creates a formula array: a separate set of cells that give all the alternative results for the formulas used. Although the tool is not listed among the functions, it is really a function that acts on other functions, allowing you to calculate different results without having to enter and run them separately.
To use the Multiple Operations tool, you need two arrays of cells. The first array contains the original or default values and the formulas applied to them. The formulas must be in a range.
The second array is the formula array. It is created by entering variables—alternative values—for one or two of the original values. Once the variable values are created, you use the Multiple Operations tool to specify the formulas you are using, as well as the original values altered by the variables. The result is the outcome of the formulas using each variable.
The Multiple Operations tool can use any number of formulas, but only one or two variables. With one variable, you add different values for the variables as column or row labels. You then add a column to the right of the column labels or a row below the row labels (whichever you are using) for the results of each formula using the variable values. With two variables, the values for one variable are used as column labels, and the values for the other variable as row labels.
Setting up multiple operations can be confusing at first. For example, when using two variables, you need to select them carefully, so that they form a meaningful table. Not every pair of variables is useful to add to the same formula array. Yet, even when working with a single variable, a new or tired user can easily make mistakes or forget the relation between cells in the original array and cells in the formula array. In these situations, Tools > Detective can help to clarify the relations.
You can also make formula arrays easier to work with if you apply some simple design logic Place the original and the formula array close together on the same sheet, and use labels for the rows and columns in both. These small exercises in organizational design will make working with the formula array much less painful, particularly when you are correcting mistakes or adjusting results.
|| If you export a spreadsheet containing multiple operations to Microsoft Excel, the location of the cells containing the formula must be fully defined relative to the data range.