Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash My work: Calculations in Coda

My work: Calculations in Coda

Why I use Coda instead of Excel

I use Coda.io instead

Super powers come with great responsibilities and the reality is that most users cannot handle them well. Excel permits you to use any cell as starting point in any tab and so it happens. In the end most users get lost.

Scenario Planning

In my line of work it is a lot about scenarios. What happens if the fuel price goes form 1 Euro to 2 or even 3 Euro, what happens when the salary is getting 10% higher (inflation & indexation) and so forth. For each parameter we use simple elements like sliders, drop down menus or date pickers. My users can play with them and define for example their worst case scenarios (like fuel for 3 Euro and salaries increased by 25%, or the interest rates on investments go from 1% today to 10% in two years). Indeed you can do more or less the same in Excel, so why Coda?

Structure

By defining for each element date & time sensitive information in tables we proceed faster and maintain better: we have an overview we can easily update. We can also add documents (like invoices) and images. If set up well, it takes no more than a few minutes. No need for complex integrations (Packs or Make or Zapier), simple uploads do the job. We show stakeholders the elements (assumptions) on which the calculations are based — often linked to historical data we found via invoices they can open in Coda — and they can play with the variables. This to avoid typical spreadsheet problems.

Coding Coda

Coda provides a rich coding language that permits for building solutions of all sorts. In my experience it is easier than the Excel language, but also more rigorous. In Coda everything is a list and while in your early Coda days, this might hinder you to speed up, over time this list logic becomes your best friend. The Coda Formula Language (CFL) shows great creativity — WithName() comes to mind and is good to learn due to inventions as:

Is Coda as powerful as Excel?

Not yet when it comes to specific financial functions. Take the example from the blog I mentioned on Internal Rate of Return. In Coda you have to develop this logica before you apply it and with all my love and respect for Coda, this is not easy. In Excel this is simple and straightforward. Most calculations I come across do not require this. Net Present Value and alike formulas are not common terms for most SMB owners, but if you need these formulas, Excel is easier.

An Excel based approach in Coda

Interest rates and alike examples

Coding Coda makes thing easier once you see through the Coda glasses. Accounting and data management today is largely shaped by Excel and so is the visualisation of book keeping. On top ledgers work with a left and right sides fitting the Excel approach perfectly (although with the column logic in Coda it can be done as well).

I calculate with Coda

This means I order data and clean it up if necessary. Once the data sets are ready I look for ways to distill meaningful information. LookUps (which permit chaining) and filters play an important role. My job mainly consists in finding the right data sets (business owners often have no clue) to connect them intelligently. By using sliders, data pickers etc. I help my clients to gain a better understanding of what might happen (scenarios). Together with my clients we look into the future to spot opportunities and to avoid traps.

Christiaan on My work: Calculations in Coda

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Christiaan Huizer

I use Coda mainly for (HR) planning & (budget) calculations. Follow me to learn how to Coda with numbers. I blog at least once per week.