How to decide what to use?

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Joined: Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:31 pm

How to decide what to use?

Postby Almond » Sat Apr 14, 2018 12:22 am


I work in planning/forecasting for an oil & gas (O&G) exploration & production company. We have a fairly complex Excel model consisting of a number of linked workbooks that start with a schedule of when we plan to drill individual wells and end with a full set of corporate financial statements (balance sheet, income statement, & cash flows).

Two of the most complex parts of our model are: 1) spreading capex associated with specific drilling activities based on the start/end dates of those activities for each well; and 2) forecasting an uneven monthly production stream (a type curve) based on when each well is expected to start producing. We do tend to duplicate the well date list across multiple spreadsheets.

Our existing model works pretty well, although we have do issues with performance, crashing, corruption, failure to refresh, and general Excel bugginess. We've been told that part of our problem is that the model includes workbooks written in several different versions of Excel, and that we might need to build them from scratch.

We've been casually evaluating planning software for a few years (and a couple of us have been part of implementation teams for different software bundles in different companies), but we haven't found really found a planning software that can handle all the intricacies of O&G forecasting while providing the flexibility that we need. Since we already own Office 2016 and are fairly proficient in Excel, I would like to at least investigate our options within the Microsoft suite of tools. I've gotten the sense that we might be able to build a better model in the new Power suite, but I don't know how to evaluate whether the investment in learning the new tools (none of us know DAX, M, Power BI, etc.) and building out a new model is likely to be worth it, or whether we're likely to be plagued by the same performance/bugginess issues. What should we be aware of/focus on as we think through this?

I'm sorry for the long post, and I appreciate any insight anyone can provide.

Thank you,

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Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: How to decide what to use?

Postby MattAllington » Mon Apr 16, 2018 8:16 am

Interesting problem. It is hard for me to give you clear advice on this despite the detail you have provided. Power Pivot is great for working over large tables of data. Excel is great for working on bespoke calculations. If you can load data into tables for processing, then Power Pivot it is great, but if you have to constantly write one off formulas for specific cells of data because of some "over ride" setting you need for your problem, then that can be hard(er) in Power Pivot.

There is a lot to learn to use DAX. Personally I think it is worth learning but your scenario seems complex and I don't think it is guaranteed to be easy. I do remote consulting work on this topic and I could help you make a good decision if you would like to engage with me I think a 1 hour consulting session could be a very good investment if you are trying to make this decision.
Matt Allington is Self Service BI Consultant, Trainer and Author of the Book "Supercharge Power BI".
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