Sensitivity analysis is an important tool used to determine how the outcome of a decision changes when the inputs to the decision vary. In Excel, you can use sensitivity analysis to examine the effects of different values of an input variable on the output variables. In this blog post, we will introduce the definition and purpose of sensitivity analysis, as well as exploring the range of input variables available.

Definition of Sensitivity Analysis

Sensitivity analysis is the method used to determine how changes in the values of input variables affect the output variables. It can be thought of as a "what-if" analysis which lets users explore the effects of changing different values on the outputs of a decision.

Purpose of Sensitivity Analysis

The primary purpose of sensitivity analysis is to identify which input variables have the greatest impact on the output variables. By understanding which inputs have the most significant effect, decision makers are able to choose the best course of action based on their resources and constraints.

Explain Range of Input Variables

The range of input variables available for a sensitivity analysis is vast. Generally speaking, these are variables that impact the decision-making process, such as financial performance, customer preferences and business risks. In Excel, you can select any number of input variables to explore the effects of changing their values on the output variables.

Key Takeaways

  • Sensitivity analysis is a "what-if" tool used to explore the impact of different values of an input variable on the output variables.
  • It is used to identify which inputs have the most significant effect on the output.
  • The range of input variables available is vast, including financial performance, customer preferences, and business risks.
  • Using sensitivity analysis can lead to more accurate decisions.

Advantages of Sensitivity Analysis in Excel

Sensitivity Analysis is an invaluable tool for Excel users in various industries. It allows users to trace the through and backtrack to understand how changes in certain variables affect predetermined outcomes. This is useful for project planning, and for ensuring that a certain outcome is achieved through understanding what needs to be modified. Below is an overview of some of the benefits that users can expect to experience from using Sensitivity Analysis in Excel.

Easy Learning Curve

One of the primary advantages of Sensitivity Analysis in Excel is its easy learning curve. Even users who are new to the platform can quickly familiarize themselves with the process, and learn to understand the rationale behind it. Excel users can leverage this knowledge quickly, learning the basics in just a few hours and applying it to improve their own project plans.

Suitable for Non-Experts

Unlike some other methods of data analysis that rely on complex computations or in-depth technical knowledge, Sensitivity Analysis in Excel is suitable even for users without any special expertise. In addition, it is easy to learn and can be used by both professionals and non-experts alike, significantly improving project planning and outcomes.

Low-Cost Option

Sensitivity Analysis in Excel is a low-cost option for data analysis. The software is free to use, and users can easily access the tools and features required for successful implementation. This makes it an ideal option for budget-constrained projects that still need to achieve important outcomes from data analysis.

Easy to Design Tests as Required

Sensitivity Analysis in Excel allows users to design tests to meet their specific needs. This makes it easy to identify any issues or problems that need to be addressed before the project is completed. Users can quickly eliminate any risk factors or potential problems to ensure the best results.

Disadvantages of SensitivityAnalysis in Excel

Although sensitivity analysis in Excel has some great advantages, there are some notable drawbacks to be aware of.

Limited in Scope & Complexity

In Excel, the scope of analysis is very limited in comparison to more powerful software tools. Furthermore, defining the complexity of models quickly become quite difficult within Excel. For example, if you need to analyze multiple input variables in complex proportions, Excel is inefficient and is better suited for simpler analysis.

Error Prone Calculations & Interpretations

When it comes to inputting and performing calculations within Excel, there is a real potential for error, either due to the user making a mistake, or the spreadsheet formula being incorrect. This can lead to incorrect interpretations of the data due to inaccurate calculations.

Limited Simulations & Scenarios

Excel is limited in the number of simulations and scenarios you can carry out and therefore is better suited to quick and simple analyses. Unlike more advanced software, if you want to carry out a lot of tests, simulations and scenarios, Excel becomes very unwieldy.

How to Perform Sensitivity Analysis in Excel

Sensitivity Analysis is a powerful method of exploring how changes in inputs can affect the output of a model. It can also be used to identify key drivers of success in a model. Implementing Sensitivity Analysis in Excel is an efficient and effective way of exploring different scenarios and understanding their effects on the model.

Setting Up the Data

The first step in performing Sensitivity Analysis in Excel is to pre-load the model with the necessary data. This will include all relevant input variables, as well as the expected output of the model. It is important that the data is entered in a specific format to enable accurate calculations of the sensitivity values.

Once the data is loaded, the appropriate formulas for calculating the sensitivities should be entered into the spreadsheet. The formulas should link the relevant input variables with their respective outputs.

Calculating Sensitivity Values

Once the formulas for calculating the sensitivities have been entered into the spreadsheet, it is easy to perform the calculations of each sensitivity value. The sensitivity values can then be used to determine how changes in the input will impact the output of the model.

  • The calculations should be performed for a range of different input values so that the full effect of each input on the output is visible.
  • The output variables can also be used to calculate the sensitivities of different combinations of inputs, such as the effect of changes in two inputs on the output.

Plotting Graphs

Once the sensitivity values have been determined, the output can be plotted onto graphs to get a clearer view of the relationship between the inputs and outputs. Graphs can also be used to compare different scenarios and understand their effects on the model.

  • Graphs can be used to compare the sensitivities of different inputs, as well as to see how various combinations of inputs might affect the output.
  • Graphs can also be used to explore what-if scenarios, such as the effect of doubling all input values on the output.

Examples of Sensitivity Analysis

Sensitivity Analysis is a powerful tool that can be leveraged in multiple fields. In this section, we will be exploring some of the use cases in the industries of retail banking, construction, and marketing.

Use Cases in Retail Banking

Retail banks can use sensitivity analysis to determine how changes in different parameters influence their profits. For example, they can use sensitivity analysis to understand the effects of a 5% reduction in lending rates on their bottom line. Additionally, banks can also use sensitivity analysis to measure the impact of a decrease in capital requirements on the bank's ability to fund larger investments.

Use Cases in Construction

Sensitivity Analysis can be used in the construction industry as a way to evaluate different construction project scenarios. For example, if a construction firm needs to decide between different materials and suppliers, they can use sensitivity analysis to find out which option will be the most cost-effective. Additionally, sensitivity analysis can be used to evaluate how a change in the cost of labor will affect the overall cost of the project.

Use Cases in Marketing

Marketing teams can use sensitivity analysis to evaluate different marketing strategies and campaigns. For example, they can use it to determine which advertising channels will give them the highest return on investment. Additionally, they can also use sensitivity analysis to evaluate the impact of different pricing strategies on customer demand.

Alternatives to Sensitivity Analysis in Excel

Sensitivity analysis is a powerful tool for assessing the impact of variable changes on the desired output. Generally, it is used to work out what input changes result in desired outcomes. As sensitivity analysis is very common and important, there are many specialized software solutions available for it. Specialized software offer the advantage of structured data, more intuitive graphical representations and improved accuracy.

Specialized Software

A number of software solutions are specifically designed to implement sensitivity analysis. These specialized software solutions provide a plethora of features and offer an easy-to-use interface to create and interpret data. Among the features offered by specialized software used for sensitivity analysis are a representation of corresponding changes in graphs and charts, user-friendly UI and support for exporting selected results. In addition, specialized tools offer tools such as Monte Carlo simulation that make it easier to interpret data and reviews results.

Combination of Software & Excel

Alternatively, you can use a combination of software solutions and Excel to achieve optimal results. In this option, you can create the raw data in Excel, and feed it into software to analyze the sensitivity. By this method, you will be able to get accurate results from software, and then easily interpret the data using Excel. Excel will provide a more user-friendly platform and you can use it to visualize corresponding changes in a more intuitive way.


Sensitivity analysis is a useful tool for financial and marketing professionals alike. It offers valuable insights into changes in assumptions and consequences, allowing for clearer and more informed decision making. By making use of Microsoft Excel, the user has the flexibility to explore numerous levels of data and understand the impact of different changes to assumptions.

Summary of Sensitivity Analysis

Sensitivity analysis allows the user to identify which factors are having the biggest impact on their financial situation. By changing the assumptions within a given model, the user can gain insight into how each variable influences their outcome. This analysis allows the user to use their judgment to determine the scenarios that are most likely to occur, and to plan accordingly.

Benefits of Using Sensitivity Analysis

  • Identify sensitivity of certain parameters or assumptions
  • Improve decision making capabilities
  • Provide insights into complex models and results
  • Create multiple scenarios to plan for any outcome
  • Easily graph results to interpret data more quickly

Sensitivity analysis is a powerful tool for any decision maker for whom understanding the potential outcomes of different changes is imperative. With the help of Excel, users can quickly and easily analyze multiple scenarios and have a clearer picture of the results their decisions may lead to.

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