Sensitivity Analysis is a useful tool for business decision makers to evaluate the impact of variable changes on the result. It provides a way to predict how changes in one variable (e.g. price, demand, etc.) will affect the outcome. Generating scenarios in Excel through sensitivity analyses is a great way to visualize the different outcomes of various changes.

Definition of Sensitivity Analyses

Sensitivity Analysis is a method of analyzing how a change in one variable will affect the outcome, given all other variables remain the same. It allows users to measure the impact of multiple variables based on a single change. It is a helpful way to visualize how variation in one factor, such as price or cost, can have a ripple effect on the output, such as profit.

Benefits of Generating Scenarios in Excel

  • Generating scenarios in Excel allows users to quickly and easily visualize different scenarios.
  • It helps in planning for the future by enabling users to evaluate the impact of a single change on the outcome.
  • It also helps users to gain insights and create strategies that are more likely to achieve their desired outcome.
  • Using Excel also makes it easier to share results with stakeholders, which increases transparency.

Key Takeaways:
  • Sensitivity Analysis is a useful method for predicting how a change in one variable will affect the outcome.
  • Generating scenarios in Excel is a great way to visualize the various outcomes of various changes.
  • It helps in planning for the future by enabling users to evaluate the impact of a single change on the output.
  • Using Excel also makes it easier to share results with stakeholders, which increases transparency.

Common Uses of Sensitivity Analyses

In terms of generating scenarios in Excel, sensitivity analyses have many potential uses. Below are three of the most common types of analyses for which sensitivity analyses find great utility.

Forecasting Incomes and Balance Sheets

One common use of Excel sensitivity analyses is their application to forecasting incomes and balance sheets. By running a sensitivity analysis in Excel, finance managers can generate scenarios that consider the effects of different inputs on the projections of cash flow and accounts receivable. Knowing the effects of different economic or market scenarios can help business owners and other decision makers to be better prepared for any changes in the financial landscape.

Pricing and Cost Analyses

Another common use of Excel sensitivity analysis is to test different pricing and cost models. By running a sensitivity analysis, it is possible to compare different models and their likely impacts on the bottom line of various budgets. This can help to determine the most cost-effective and profitable approach for any given operation.

Monte Carlo Simulations

Sensitivity analyses can also be used to generate Monte Carlo simulations. Through these simulations, several different scenarios can be generated using randomly defined variables and parameters. These scenarios can then be tested to observe their impact and to help develop a better understanding of the effects of different factors and parameters on a given situation.

Using Excel for generating scenarios through sensitivity analyses can provide great insight into potential outcomes of different economic or market scenarios. As outlined above, these analyses can be used for forecasting incomes and balance sheets, testing pricing and cost models, and even running Monte Carlo simulations, among other uses.

Types of Sensitivity Analyses

When generating scenarios in Excel through sensitivity analysis, it is critical to understand the different types of sensitivity analysis that are possible. The two main types of sensitivity analysis are range-based analysis and goal-seeking analysis.

Range-based Sensitivity Analysis

Range-based sensitivity analysis evaluates the effect of changing a variable through a range of values. Range-based sensitivity analysis is closely linked with Monte Carlo simulations and can be used to generate multiple scenarios. By understanding the output of a range-based sensitivity analysis, it is also possible to identify a break-even point or a point of maximum return. Range-based sensitivity analysis is an effective way to assess the uncertainty of a situation.

Goal-seeking Sensitivity Analysis

Goal-seeking sensitivity analysis involves changing a target value or constraint and then adjusting all related variables to meet the target or constraint. The goal here is to identify the right combination of variables that will give the desired output, making it a useful technique for finding optimal solutions. Goal-seeking sensitivity analysis can also be used to test the sensitivity of the output to changes in variables.

Step-by-step Guide to Generating Scenarios in Excel

Scenario generation in Excel is a powerful tool for identifying sensitivities and making decisions in a variety of contexts. This guide is designed to provide an overview on how to generate scenarios in Excel, in order to arrive at the most informed decisions possible.

Establishing Hypothetical Output Variables

The key to creating effective scenarios in Excel is to first establish what the hypothetical output variables will be. This means defining the dependent variables that narrate the potential outcomes related to the decision being considered. For example, when evaluating a possible new operations strategy, the output variables may include return on investment, customer satisfaction, and production timelines. Establishing the output variables before hand provides the basis for evaluating the viability of various scenarios.

Setting Variables of Focus

After the output variables are established, it is important to then specify which independent variables will have the greatest impact on the output variables. This step is important for understanding which aspects of the decision are most sensitive to changes. For example, when evaluating a new operations strategy, the variables of focus might include operational efficiencies, workforce productivity, and cost of materials. Identifying these variables of focus will help to hone in on potential scenarios.

Creating a Nested Table to Determine Default Values

Once the variables of focus are identified, a nested table can be created in Excel to determine default values for each variable. This table can consist of each variable of focus, as headers, with their potential values listed in the adjacent cells. By referencing the values established in the table, base values can be calculated to give insights into potential outcomes.

Utilizing Scenario Manager to Generate New Versions

The last step is to employ a Scenario Manager to generate new versions of the nested table, built around various values for the variables of focus. This will give a comprehensive view into the various possible outcomes emerging from alternative permutations of the variables of focus. By varying these values, the resulting scenarios can be assessed and decisions can be made on the basis of the most promising outcomes.

Tips for Creating Sensitivity Analyses

Sensitivity analyses are a valuable tool for analyzing input data to gain insight into different outcomes. By setting up a spreadsheet to show how the outputs changes, you can gain confidence in your decision-making process. Here are some tips for creating effective sensitivity analyses in Excel.

Keep the Scope of Your Analysis Manageable

When creating a sensitivity analysis, it is important to keep the scope of your analysis manageable. This will make it easier to interpret the results and draw meaningful conclusions. Consider the range of data you need to analyze when creating your spreadsheet and limit the number of variables you consider. Work with a reasonable number of cells and make sure the calculations don’t become too complicated.

Use What-If Analysis to Test New Sales or Cost Projections

What-if analysis is a useful tool for testing how the outputs of a spreadsheet respond to new data. To use what-if analysis, adjust your spreadsheet to include new sales or cost projections and then compare the results to the original outcomes. This can be especially helpful for testing out different scenarios and creating projections for future performance.

What-if analysis can also be used to examine what happens when input data are changed within a given range. To do this, select a range of values for a variable and use the “goal seek” or “scenario” feature to analyze how the data inputs affect the output. This can provide further insight into how the variables interact with each other and how changes can influence the overall results.

Where to Find Data for Excel Scenario Generators

When generating scenarios in Excel, it is important to ensure that your data is accurate and relevant. To this end, it is essential to be aware of the different sources available for obtaining data to be used in your Excel scenario generator. The following outlines a few of the common sources of data available.

Government Resources

The federal government maintains a wealth of data in various forms and much of this is available to the public free of charge. Government websites such as and the U.S. Census Bureau are two excellent sources of information to be used in Excel Scenario Generators.


Collecting data from surveys is another way to gather information for your Excel Scenario Generators. Surveys can be conducted via telephone, mail, or electronically, and provide valuable insights into customer preferences and opinions.

Historical Records

When looking for data to be used in Excel Scenario Generators, it is important to not overlook the value of historical records. Government records, such as those kept by the Department of Labor, are helpful in gaining insights into long-term trends, while academic studies can provide more detailed information about specific topics.


The use of Excel to generate scenarios through sensitivity analysis offers a wide range of potential operational and financial benefits. By understanding how changes to a single or multiple variables in a model can affect specific areas of a project or business, decision-makers can be better informed when making decisions. Excel’s powerful features and familiar interface familarity make it an ideal software for creating and tweaking scenarios for any purpose. Additionally, with the help of other Excel features, such as dashboard settings and user forms, it is possible to automatically create scenarios with varying sets of input data, allowing businesses to simulate scenarios on a large scale.

Summary of Excel Applications

Excel is an invaluable tool when it comes to creating and examining scenarios. Excel’s powerful suite of features offers a rich set of tools for creating models, generating graphs and visualisations, setting up user forms and alerts, and investigating sensitivity through what-if analysis.

Benefits of Using Scenario Generator

The benefits of using Excel to generate scenarios through sensitivity analysis include:

  • Familiar user interface
  • Ability to easily construct and modify models, incorporating multiple data sources
  • Powerful data analysis capabilities, including what-if analysis
  • Ability to set up alerts to inform stakeholders of changes in the model
  • Ability to automatically generate scenarios using user forms and dashboard settings
  • Effective visualisation of results with the help of graphical and charting features.

In conclusion, Excel offers organisations a powerful, easy to use platform for generating scenarios through sensitivity analyses. The ability to simulate scenarios on a larger scale and with varying data sets is advantageous for making informed decisions. Excel’s familiar user interface, combined with its advanced features, has become invaluable for business decision-making.

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