Top Excel Tips For Data Analysts

Data and business go hand in hand. And whether you’re analyzing a client’s data or using your company’s data to make executive decisions, your tools have to be able to handle the tasks you perform with that information.

If you’re a data analyst, most of the time you go through these stages of data analysis:
– Data Cleaning: Transform and rearrange the data in a way suitable … [ Read more ]

A Better Way to Understand Internal Rate of Return

Investments can have the same internal rate of return for different reasons. A breakdown of this metric in private equity shows why it matters.

The Return of Zero-Base Budgeting

The venerable technique has vaulted back into the consciousness of corporate leaders—for good reason. But getting it right is not easy and depends on five key elements.

A Refresher on Return on Assets and Return on Equity

There are several ratios you can look at that will help you evaluate whether your company can generate sales and control its expenses. I talked with Joe Knight, author of the HBR TOOLS: Return on Investment and co-founder and owner of, to learn more about the Return on Assets (ROA) and Return on Equity (ROE) ratios and how managers can use them.

A Refresher on Internal Rate of Return

Any time you propose a capital expenditure, you can be sure senior leaders will want to know what the return on investment (ROI) is. There are a variety of methods you can use to calculate ROI — net present value, payback, breakeven — and internal rate of return, or IRR.

For help in deciphering this I talked with Joe Knight, author of HBR TOOLS: Return on … [ Read more ]

A Way to Know If Your Corporate Goals Are Too Aggressive

For better goal-setting, it will help to understand where financial targets typically come from. Often, they’re based on past performance. But a company’s recent track record says nothing about how much its performance could or should improve; what’s needed is a useful assessment of a company’s probability of future success. One way to think about the likelihood of hitting a given performance increase is to … [ Read more ]

The Do-or-Die Struggle for Growth

Does following best practice in strategy, marketing, operations, and organization generally make it possible for companies to increase their revenues consistently—or does that kind of growth usually require something more?

Do Carveouts Make Sense?

Yes, but not for the reasons you might think.

8 Reasons Companies Don’t Capture More Value

Doesn’t every business want to maximize its profits? Pricing textbooks certainly all assume they do, or at least that they want to achieve a certain profit level under given constraints. But in truth businesses rarely focus on only profitability; most strive to satisfy various stakeholders and meet the goals of balanced scorecards. And even when a company is focused tightly on financial performance, there are … [ Read more ]

Startup Best Practices 16 – Option Pool Planning

No matter the stage of the business, startups need to manage the size of their Employee Stock Option Pool or ESOP. The ESOP contains the shares set aside by the company for hiring and retaining employees. Like a financial budget, ESOP budgets help a startup plan how to finance its growth.

How to Choose Between Growth and ROIC

Investors reward high-performing companies that shift their strategic focus prudently, even if that means lower returns or slower growth.

A Brief History of Finance and My Life at Chicago

An interesting essay by finance luminary Eugene F. Fama, which touches on some of the important events in the evolution of the finance field.

Eugene F. Fama, Efficient Markets, and the Nobel Prize

In 1970, in “Efficient Capital Markets: a Review of Theory and Empirical Work,” Gene Fama defined a market to be “informationally efficient” if prices at each moment incorporate all available information about future values. Informational efficiency is a natural consequence of competition, relatively free entry, and low costs of information. If there is a signal, not incorporated in market prices, that future values will be … [ Read more ]

Why Active Managers Have Trouble Keeping Up with the Pack

There is no shortage of money managers who claim they can beat market benchmarks, some with impressive track records. And one stream of research suggests that some people can identify and profit from mispriced securities in the stock market. Chicago Booth Professor Lubos Pastor believes that money managers are not only skilled, but becoming ever more skilled over time. So should you dump your index … [ Read more ]

Invest to Win: Placing the Right Bets in a Shifting Competitive Environment

Most corporate strategies share a high-level mission: Understand what current or potential customers value, and use those insights to sell products and services. Citing examples from five industries, Accenture examines the complex investment decisions that companies must make to achieve a variety of business goals.

EVA and the Private Company

What can “economic value added,” increasingly considered the public company’s preferred performance metric, do for your company?

Building a World-Class Global Procurement Organization

Companies have set aggressive targets to squeeze cost savings from procurement, but meeting those goals often requires a new approach.

Uncovering Cash and Insights from Working Capital

Companies that improve the performance of their working capital can generate cash and see benefits far beyond the finance department.

The Need for Profitability and Cost Management

Profitability and cost management (PCM) is at the core of enterprise performance management, as it represents the bottom line for every company. However, there are multiple reasons why PCM is of particular relevance, especially today.

In most organizations, the indirect costs as part of overall costs are growing. And customer self-service business models rule, so that organizations even bear the risk of losing grip on their … [ Read more ]

Understanding Profitability: How Companies Can Improve Their Businesses with Profitability Analytics

Using price analytics could help companies in many industries do a better job of understanding the profitability of specific products and services. One cornerstone is ensuring the transparency of all associated costs. Price analytics also addresses areas such as organizational structure, business processes, customer segments and product characteristics.