Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
• Formulas simplify automation. Suppose you want to report
performance trends about a list of products. A simple macro
could enter the first product code in a cell, recalculate, print,
enter the second code, and so on. Your macro doesn’t know or
care that the data comes from an Excel-friendly OLAP.
• Formulas simplify training. Excel users can ignore 90% of the
user interface of Excel-friendly OLAPs. This is because Excel
users report and analyze using Excel, not the OLAP program.
To illustrate the different levels of knowledge required, I once
attended the training class for new users of a well-known
Excelsurly OLAP. The class dragged on for five long days, teaching
clerks and accountants about datablocks, scenario partitioning,
leaf node loading, and other mind-numbing topics.
In contrast, the equivalent training for new-hires in companies
that use an Excel-friendly OLAP often tends to be, “Do this, this,
and this, which creates a worksheet with formulas linked to a
cube. Here’s a sample report to play with. If you have any
questions, ask anyone.”
The second major shortcoming of Excel-surly OLAPs is that they
tend to offer spreadsheet access to only one cube at a time. On the
other hand, Excel-friendly OLAPs offer spreadsheet access to an
unlimited number of cubes at one time.
As a practical matter, however, Excel-friendly OLAPs tend to use a
small number of cubes. In this environment, each cube provides
one unique data set.
To illustrate, most companies have one GL cube, which contains
GL data for all months for all divisions and subsidiaries that use the
same chart of accounts. (Recent acquisitions, which typically use
different charts of account, would use different GL cubes. The main