Using the Sensitivity Analyzer

The Why

ClearFactr’s Sensitivity Analyzer allows you to perform the types of “what-if” analyses that spreadsheets are famous for in an entirely new way. In fact, it’s patented (pending as of Fall 2013).

What was truly revolutionary when the very first spreadsheet program came about was the ability to build up a very complex financial model, change an input cell, and immediately see the effects of that change ripple through the entire model. What might have been minutes or even hours of hand calculations for that single change was now performed in seconds. Changing another cell would then save another round of hand calculations, and so on.

Paradoxically, spreadsheets have allowed models to become so elaborate that it’s not entirely obvious which cells change, and by how much, when a given input value is changed. ClearFactr has replaced this flaw in the workflow with a customized solution that precisely answers the question “what changes, and by how much?”.

The How

In order to use the Sensitivity Analyzer your Plan must have at least one root cell and one or more dependent cells. Here’s the process, which will refer to this toolbar:

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1. Open the analyzer by clicking the "What If" button

You’ll see the toolbar above.

2. Configure the analyzer for a particular type of analysis

The Calc Type, Magnitude, Magnitude Type and Result Type selectors describe what is going to happen to your chosen input cell. You can read the Analyzer’s settings like a sentence--for example: “Add 10% Percent (to the input cell, and display the Result in) Actual Values.” Each of them has several possibilities:

Calc TypeAdd or Multiply
MagnitudeAny value
Magnitude TypeIndicates whether the magnitude will be treated as a numerical quantity or as a percent
Show meControls how the results of the analysis are displayed
  1. New Values: Displays the newly computed values from the configured change to the input cell
  2. Value Change: Displays the difference between the newly computed values and the original values
  3. % Change: Displays the percent change between the newly computed valuee and the original values. This normalizes the entire analysis so that unusual or non-intuitive changes are brought into focus.

3. Click on any cell in the Plan

The current cell (the one with the red border) becomes the “input cell” for the analyzer.

4. Click the Apply button on the analyzer toolbar

When you do this, ClearFactr will internally transform the input cell according to the chosen analysis and recompute all of the dependent cells. The new input cell value is always shown in actual terms, regardless of the result type. The Apply button will become disabled to avoid applying multiple changes to the input cell.

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5. Control the visibility of the unaffected cells with the number slider

By default, ClearFactr will hide any cell that is not affected by the new input cell value. This allows the affected cells to really stand out. The slider (to right of the "Show Me" selector) allows you to control the exact amount of hiding. You may find it helpful to partially display the cells (in grayscale), or show them completely. Experiment with the slider to see the results.

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6. Click the Restore button to revert the analysis

The input cell and dependent cells will be reverted to their original values. Any hidden cells (partially or otherwise) are restored into full view. The restore button allows you to use the Sensitivity Analyzer without worrying about permanently changing your Plan.