What-if Analysis

In Excel what if analysis lets you answer questions with data. With what if analysis Excel also lets you experiment with data.

To use Goal Seek (example 2):

Let's say you're planning an event and want to invite as many people as you can without exceeding a budget of $500. We can use Goal Seek to figure out how many people to invite. In our example below, cell B5 contains the formula =B2+B3*B4 to calculate the total cost of a room reservation, plus the cost per person.

  1. Select the cell with the value you want to change. In our example, we'll select cell B5.
    selecting cell B5
  2. From the Data tab, click the What-If Analysis command, then select Goal Seek from the drop-down menu.
    clicking the Goal Seek option from the What-if Analysis command drop-down menu
  3. A dialog box will appear with three fields. The first field, Set cell:, will contain the desired result. In our example, cell B5 is already selected.

    The second field, To value:, is the desired result. In our example, we'll enter 500 because we only want to spend $500.

    The third field, By changing cell:, is the cell where Goal Seek will place its answer. In our example, we'll select cell B4 because we want to know how many guests we can invite without spending more than $500.
    • When you're done, click OK.
      setting parameters in the goal seek dialog box
    • The dialog box will tell you if Goal Seek was able to find a solution. Click OK.
    • The result will appear in the specified cell. In our example, Goal Seek calculated the answer to be approximately 18.62. In this case, our final answer needs to be a whole number, so we'll need to round the answer up or down. Because rounding up would cause us to exceed our budget, we'll round down to 18 guests.
      the value in cell B4 (18) determined by Goal Seek

    As you can see in the example above, some situations will require the answer to be a whole number. If Goal Seek gives you a decimal, you'll need to round up or down, depending on the situation.