Power BI Boot Camp

I'm pretty excited to announce that we have our very first Power BI Boot Camp coming up in Vancouver, BC on Feb 22-24.  This is something that I've wanted to do for a while, and it's going to be awesome!

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The boot camp is going to be 3 full days of hands on Power BI, and is intended to get you up and running, building cool solutions that will impact your business.

Why do you care about the Power BI Boot Camp?

Okay, I get it… you're an Excel person, and while you've heard of Power BI, you're not quite sure if you need it or not, and certainly don't know if you can justify the cost of a 3 day Power BI Boot Camp...

I honestly believe that the answer to both questions is an emphatic yes!

Top 5 reasons you need to learn about Power BI:

We'll cover the "how do I convince my boss" near the end of the post, but first, let's talk about what Power BI is, and why it is relevant to you.

  1. A major reason that companies are behind in their Business Intelligence development is that they are using outdated versions of Excel and cannot (or are afraid) to upgrade.   Power BI Desktop is a separate program that sits completely outside Excel, meaning that you can run the most up to date business intelligence tool DESPITE the version of Excel you're stuck on.  I'm looking at you Excel 2003 & Excel 2007 users. Winking smile
  2. You can do a TON of stuff with Power BI for free.  Yes, there are services that cost a nominal fee, but you'll be surprised at how much you can do for absolutely nothing.  The investment you make here will pay back in spades as you begin to automate tasks that were taking you huge amounts of time, and get the ability to deliver true business intelligence to your stakeholders.
  3. Power BI's data collection experience is based on Power Query, and it's modelling experience is based on Power Pivot.  So if you have those skills from your Excel journey, they will be totally relevant in Power BI.  And if you don't?  The new skills you learn at this course related to these areas are portable back to Excel as well.  (So again, if you're stuck on an older version of Excel, this is your chance to upskill BEFORE your Excel is updated.)
  4. If you've ever tried to share Excel dashboards, you know how hard it can be to do so and maintain them.  And if your end users want their reports accessible and interactive on mobile?  Forget it.  But Power BI solves these issues, including delivering interactive reports to your mobile phone (yes, even your non-Windows phones!)  Rest assured, however, that if your company is cloud averse, this tool is not dead to you, and it's still worth coming.
  5. You'll be learning in a small class environment from a world class expert who cares about delivering value.  I've been there.  I know how hard your job is.  And I want to help you become more effective.  That is what my company is all about, and I'm very serious about it.

What will the Power BI Boot camp cover?

To be completely honest, the better question is probably "what won't we look at?"  I've got all kinds of stuff cooking for this.  When I first started drafting the Power BI Boot Camp outline I was wondering how I'd ever fill 3 full days.  Now I'm trying to figure out what to cut so that I can fit it all in.  Keep in mind that it's not going to necessarily be in the order below, as some topics are MUCH bigger than the summary I'm providing, but here's a bit of an overview…

Where it all starts…

We'll start by building a basic Power BI solution built on an Excel file.  Some minor data modifications, some cool visuals and then publishing it to the cloud service, we'll walk through the most basic of Power BI journeys.  I want to do this so that you can see just how easy it is to build a cool solution that works and interacts, like this one.  (Go ahead... click any of the bars and see how it cross filters in your web browser!)

More data, more transformations, and some modelling…

From there we'll start to dive deeper, teaching the techniques that allow you to build more robust models and solutions.  We'll spend a bunch of time looking at different data sources, as well as some of the more complex methods for fixing bad data to make sure that you can use it in your solutions.  We'll also show you how to link these tables together so that they filter nicely across multiple visuals.

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Let's get visual…

Power BI is all about getting visuals with your data.  It has a big collection of visuals, as well as an ever growing gallery of custom visuals as well.

While I won't promise that we'll look at each different visual in the product (we only have 3 days), we are going to look at a lot of them, including some of my favourite custom visuals.  I want to show you how to create them, format them, and what data you need to get the best of them to work.

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We're building dashboards to tell a story here, so I want to try and get that as close to real life as possible for you.  From bar, column and line charts, to maps and bullet charts, I really want to get you comfortable with these, as well as how to control the interactions between them.

And speaking of Dashboards… do you know the difference between a report and a dashboard in Power BI?  That will get clearly explained here as well.

Getting the numbers right…

We'll get into working with the DAX formula language, and understand how to add and override filter context to make your formulas show exactly what you want when you filter any visual.

How about Calendar intelligence?  I have a huge passion in this area too.  The Power BI Boot Camp won't just teach you how to build your own calendar table, you'll also leave armed with a collection of DAX calendar intelligence measures.  Those measure patterns are super important as they'll allow you to report results correctly when you ask for Month to Date data or Month to Date for 2 months ago.

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Sharing is caring!

We'll look at sharing via the web first, both for internal and external users on an invite-only basis.  But even more, I'm also going to walk you through embedding your reports in a web page so that you can show the world how awesome your company is.

In addition, you'll want to bring your phone with the Power BI app installed.  Why?  Because I'm going to make sure you get set up with your reports and dashboards delivered to your phone in a mobile optimized fashion where you can even annotate your reports by hand.

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And if you'd prefer not to be cloud based?  We'll look at creating Power BI templates that you can distribute within your organization as well.

You know… while we're talking about sharing… have you ever sent a report to a manager only to have them come back with a one of those "can you show me this?" type questions?  Let's try and solve that little problem by allowing our manager to ask their own questions using natural language queries.  In other words, how cool would it be if your manager could just type "Bar chart total stays by city" and it did it, even if you've never built that report?  Because they can.

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And what about updates and security?

Wait… how do I keep this stuff up to date?  And how do I ensure that only the right people are looking at their data?  Well of course we'll cover those topics!

Not only will we look at scheduling refresh for cloud hosted data sources, but also your on-premises data sets via gateways and 3rd party applications.  Ooohh… connecting data to the cloud… can I hear anyone saying "Security!"  Well yes, so let's talk about both encryption and also how to restrict the data sets to show only relevant rows to the correct people.  (And let's face it, you will want that last part even if you keep your data local!)

So why Ken's Power BI Boot Camp then?

My goal is to deliver real value to you.  Anyone who has been to any of my courses in the past knows this:

  • It's virtually impossible to find someone who has more passion for what they teach than me
  • We limit the class size so that it doesn't get too big.  A huge part of the reason for this is because…
  • My style is to roam the room and help people keep up with the content so that everyone learns
  • I provide completed examples for all the work we go through, with catch up points along the way, just in case the above isn't achievable
  • I provide a ton of supplemental resources as well

I've been to classes before, and I know that it can be somewhat difficult to apply the course materials to your own work.  For that reason the Power BI Boot Camp is designed like all my courses: We will build solutions like you'd expect to do so in the office, exposing the pitfalls where the software doesn't work as you'd logically expect.  This is intentional, as we teach you not only how to do things correctly, but also how to debug problems as they happen.

What skill set do you need?

Do you need experience working with Power BI in order to come to the Power BI Boot Camp?  Heck no, that's what this course is about!  And while some Excel knowledge is helpful, you're certainly not going to see a test on Excel functions here.

Ultimately what you need is a hunger to learn; a desire to change your reporting world.  If you can bring me that enthusiasm, I'll teach you what you need to know in order to make that happen.

Making the Case to Your Boss

I managed an accounting department in my former life, so I totally get this.  We're all about data here, so here's the up front details:

The cost of the course is $1,495 plus GST.  It includes your breakfast and lunch all 3 days, but you need to look after your dinner and hotel room (if necessary).  So now you can work out the total cost.

I'll let you do the math and work out how many hours per week you need to save yourself in order to break even.  If you spend a significant amount of time cleaning up data to be used in Excel, you'll find that you'll break even on this alone.

Honestly though, the true value proposition of this course isn't the ability to break even on a labour basis, it's about the opportunity costs.  Opportunities like:

  • Identifying programs that are costing your company money which don't earn returns.
  • Finding the best paying leads to pursue for greater sales.
  • Delivering value to your stakeholders when and where they need it.
  • Reducing inventory during slow seasons to reduce carrying costs.
  • Highlighting key metrics that are under performing.
  • Building solutions to blow the minds of your clients or stakeholders.

Every business is different, but ultimately it's the opportunity to get better information into the hands of those who make the decisions, be it you or your boss.  That benefit FAR outweighs the price we charge, and will break even for you VERY quickly.

I hope to see you at the course.  It's going to be awesome, and it will change your data life forever. 🙂

Register for the Boot Camp here.

October News and Events

It’s a busy month here at Excelguru. Instead of a technical post we wanted to catch everyone up on our October news and events!

Live Course: Master Your Excel Data October News and Events

Ken is teaching a LIVE, hands on course in Victoria, BC on Friday, October 21 from 9:00am-4:30pm. This session is great for anyone who has to import and clean up data in Excel and will change the way you work with data forever! Ken will teach you how to use Excel Tables, Pivot Tables and Power Query. Space is limited to only 20 attendees, so don't miss out on your chance to sign up. For full details and to register for the session, visit: http://www.excelguru.ca/content.php?291-Live-Course-Master-Your-Excel-Data.

October News and Events: Power BI Meet-up

The next Vancouver Power BI User Group meet-up is happening on Thursday, October 13 from 5:30-7:00pm. Scott Stauffer, Microsoft Data Platform MVP, will be presenting on How to Operationalize Power BI. Together we’ll look at some solutions that might help pass your Power BI solution over to IT to manage enterprise-wide. Dinner and soft drinks will be provided. View the full details and sign up to attend at: http://www.meetup.com/Vancouver-Power-BI-User-Group/events/234126999/.

Microsoft MVP Award Received

For the 11th straight year, Ken has received the 2016 Most Valuable Professional Award from Microsoft! The previous 10 years, Ken’s award has been in the Excel category, but this year’s award is in the Data Platform category. The new category reflects the work he’s been doing this past year with Power Query and Power BI. Congratulations Ken, your guru status remains assured.mvp_horizontal_fullcolor

Our Team Has Grown

As we mentioned the other day, Rebekah Sax has recently joined the Excelguru team. She brings with her a wealth of experience in marketing, communications, event planning and administration. Please join us in welcoming Rebekah as she helps us make new connections and continue to grow.

Live Power Query and Power Pivot Training in Melbourne: Next week!

I know that this comes with limited notice but… as many of you know I'm currently in Sydney, Australia, and I'll be in Melbourne in a couple of days for Excel Summit South.  Well, as it happens, I'm actually staying in Melbourne for another week to deliver some live Power Query and Power Pivot training for a client.

Well guess what… we still have a bit of room, so we are going to open it up to the general public.  If you're interested in a full day of hands on training on either Power Pivot or Power Query, check out what we are doing at Parity Analytic's website, or download the individual brochures here:

(Registration information is included in the links above)

I'm very much looking forward to being able to share with a few more people, and hopefully you can be one!

Last Chance to register for Excel Summit South

Excel Summit South 2016

I’m only a few days away from my flight to New Zealand to kick off the first leg of Excel Summit South.  I’m really looking forward to it.  And if you’ve been sitting on the fence as to why you should attend… just ask Jeff Weir.  (Seriously, read his post, it’s awesome!)  But you need to act quick here, as it’s pretty much your last chance to register for Excel Summit South now.

What it’s all about

This will be a great opportunity to keep up with modeling practices, extend your analysis skills, and see what’s happening with Excel.  Full details about the Summit can be found at the Excel Summit South 2016 web page, but you can read about some of the high points below, or – did I mention that you should read Jeff Weir’s Why I’m going to Excel Summit South. (And why you should too) post on Daily Dose of Excel?

When and where is Excel Summit South?

The Summit will take place at these cities on the dates shown:

  • Auckland: Thurs-Fri 3-4 March (register by 28 February)
  • Sydney: Mon-Tues 7-8 March (register by 1 March)
  • Melbourne: Thurs-Fri 10-11 March (register by 6 March)

Last Chance to register for Excel Summit South - Discounts available!

As an additional incentive, we’ve arranged a last chance registration discount, but only up to the date above.  Simply REGISTER HERE and use the code LASTCHANCE to save 30% on your registration fees.

23 Excel Master Classes

With your registration, you can choose from 23 master class sessions over two days.  There are twin tracks for modelers and analysts alike, and you can jump between if you’d prefer to do so.

Modeling Track – Manage Spreadsheet Chaos, Testing Spreadsheets, Avoiding Common Errors, Modeling Best Practices, Simulation Analysis Without VBA, Power Pivot.

Analysis Track – Tables, Pivot Tables, Power Query, Data Visualization, Dashboards, Automating Excel.

The Who’s Who of Excel…

Learn from six (seven!) leading Excel MVPs as they discuss the Excel topics most useful to you.

Liam Bastick (AU), Zack Barresse (US), Bill “Mr Excel” Jelen (US), Ken Puls (CA), Jon Peltier (US), Charles Williams (UK), with a guest appearance by Ingeborg Hawighorst (NZ) in Auckland.

Hear industry leading speakers about Financial Modeling best practices, standards and spreadsheet risk.

Smita Baliga (PwC), Félienne Hermans (Delft U), Ian Bennett (PwC), Andrew Berkley (F1F9).

Interact with members of the Microsoft Excel Dev Team as you explore with them the future of Excel.

Ben Rampson and Carlos Otero from the Microsoft Excel product team.

Network and Interact

As if the classes weren’t enough, we’ll also have Panel Discussions, Ask The Experts sessions, Demonstrations of Commercial Excel Tools, and even an Evening Meet-up where you can ask your Excel questions over a beer.  (Full caveat… the quality of the answers may decline as the evening progresses!)

A shout out to our principal sponsor

PwCOur principal sponsor for this Summit is PwC Australia and PwC New Zealand.  We appreciate them coming on board to host this event!

Excel Summit South

Yes, you read that right.  If you haven't heard yet, I'll be coming to New Zealand and Australia in just under a month!  And the entire purpose of the trip is to come and share Excel knowledge for with my friends and colleagues south of the Equator.

I'm pretty jazzed about this, and not just because I get to go to the southern hemisphere for the first time in my life.  And also not just because I get to talk about Excel when I'm there.  That would be enough, but no… I'm jazzed because I get to do this with some pretty cool friends who are world respected leaders in their area.

Excel Summit South

The main purpose for my trip is the Excel Summit South conference.  Two days, two tracks of advanced Excel material in 3 different cities:

  • Mar 3&4: Auckland, New Zealand
  • Mar 6&7: Syndey, Australia
  • Mar 9&10: Melbourne, Australia

And the best part about this conference is that – while it's sponsorsed by Price Waterhouse Coopers – regisration is open to everyone.  So basically, you can check the schedule, pick the sessions that interest you, and learn things that will impact your Excel skills.  In other words, if Valuation Modelling isn't your thing, then you can go to a Power Query class.  And if Power Query isn't your thing… well… you're kind of odd, but there will be something that is.  Smile

The cast and crew for this conference really can't be beat.  Charles Williams, Bill Jelen, Jon Peltier, Zack Barresse, Liam Bastick are all Excel MVP's on the bill (as well as Ingeborg Hawighorst in our New Zealand apperance.)  Heck, we've even got a couple of guys from Microsoft attending and presenting as well.  This is a fantastic opportunity to not only meet some of the big hitter independant Excel folks out there, but also to talk to Microsoft directly.  How can you pass that up?

My Sessions

If it hasn't shown yet, I'm seriously looking forward to this conference.  Personally I'll be leading two sessions:

An End to Manual Effort: The Power Query Effect

What Power Query is, why you care, and how it can re-shape and transform the data experience.  What's really special about this session is that I'm going to take this data and turn it over to Jon Peltier who is then going to take it and turn it into a dashboard.  This is perfect, as I'm demoing how to automate data cleanup, and Jon will show you how to use it to add true business value… the real life cycle of Excel data in just a couple of hours.

The Impact of Power Pivot

This one will be fascinating, especially for those who have never seen Power PIvot in action before.  In just an hour I'll show you how big business BI (business intelligence) is at the fingertips of anyone with an Excel Pro Plus license.  It's applicable to companies as small as one employee, and scales up to multi employee small businesses, and even large businesses.  (Departments in large corporations eat this up, as they effectively just act as a small business within the larger whole.)

Register for Excel Summit South now!

Tickets are going fast for this event in all cities, so we ecourage you to register sooner rather than later, and hope to see you there!  You can find out more details and register at:  https://excelsummitsouth.wordpress.com/

First Power Query class of 2016!

The intake is closing soon for our first Power Query class of 2016, which starts on February 3, 2016.

If you haven't heard about this, or you've been considering taking it but haven't signed up yet, you've been missing out.  We truly believe that you'll never take a course that can have this much impact on your job.  If you routinely clean up and prepare data before you can analyze it, and you're NOT using Power Query to do it, you're putting in too much effort and doing too many things over again.  Quite simply, you (or your staff) are wasting their time.  You owe it to yourself to join us and find out how you can significantly decrease or eliminate data preparation time and devote your skills to what they were hired for: analyzing results and reacting to them.

What is included?

We've reviewed the course since we started airing it last year, and overall have been very pleased with the feedback that we've received, as well as the way it's been delivered.  In case you weren't aware, every registration includes:

  • Full downloadable recordings of the entire training event.  (So if you have to miss some time, it's okay, as you get to download it later to re-watch it on your schedule.  We've found people really like this, as it helps not only with time zone issues, but also allows you to review the material at a later date when you are trying to implement your own solutions.)
  • Copies of every workbook used in the workshop delivery
  • Access to our SQL Azure database so you can practice working with data in SQL
  • 6 practice labs with full written and video solutions.
  • Real world examples to explain not only how to do the job, but also the value proposition of using Power Query
  • Explanations and demos of pitfalls, hurdles and gotchas!
  • A free digital copy of M is for Data Monkey
  • A Q&A day to ask questions about applying the techniques to YOUR data

Course Improvements

We're really proud of all of that.  But one part bothered us in our intial setup… we felt that our Q&A day came a bit too fast, and didn't allow people enough time to really use Power Query to any great degree.  To that end we are still offering a Q&A day – heck, we think this is a huge value proposition to the course as you can submit your own issues and we will solve them for you! – but we have bumped the date out a bit.  Instead of hosting our Q&A session one week after the main course, we are now hosting it two weeks after the final day.  We feel that this should allow more time for our attendees to experiment with their data and submit even more challenges for Miguel and I to solve and demo for you.  And remember, the entire Q&A session is recorded for you to download too… so even if you can't make it, you can still submit your questions and get them answered!

Long lasting training resources

We've worked really hard on this course, and tried to make this one of the most complete training packages on the planet.  We've included as many resources as possible to get you up and running with kick-butt and maintainable solutions as quickly as possible.  We've worked hard to give you resources that will FAR outlast your time in our class and impact the way you work with data forever.  Don't miss your opportunity to jump on this, as our next intake won't be until some time in April!  Why miss out on a whole 2 months of productivity gains?

Even better, the skills you'll learn here aren't just applicable to Excel 2010 and higher… they are also applicable to Power BI and Power BI desktop.  So you're learning material that will help you with multiple programs in one session!

Need professional development hours?

We are more than happy to provide you with a certificate of completion, as well as the actual hours you are logged in online.

Discounts available if you register now!

This training will pay for itself, we're sure of it.  But to make that even more likely, we're offering you a 10% discount on the list price of $595 USD.  Use code GPCPA1 at checkout and we'll knock $59.50 off the price, but only until January 31…which is coming up in a couple of days!

Register for the first Power Query class of 2016 here

To register or learn more about the course, head on over to http://powerquery.training/course  We hope you'll join us so that we can help transform your Excel skills into a whole new level of awesomely efficient!

Retrieve Related Tables in Power Query

As I was working on one of the assignments for our upcoming Power Query training course, it occurred to me that I’ve never blogged about this feature: how to retrieve related tables in Power Query.

Retrieve Related Tables in Access

If you’re using Access, you’re stuffed.  I mean… you can do it manually then merge the tables.  Here’s the database I connected to:

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Yet when I pull the tblChits table, I get the following columns:

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All the columns from the tblChits table, but nothing from the other tables.  Too bad really.

So basically, you can still retrieve related tables in Access, you just need to create a connection to each table, then merge the queries manually.  The steps to do this, in brief:

  • Create a “Connection Only” query called Chits that points to the tblChits table
  • Create a “Connection Only” query called Items that points to the tblItems table
  • Create a “Connection Only” query called Categories that points to the tblCategories table
  • Create a new query that references the Chits query
  • Merge the Items query, making the relationship between the POSItemCode in both queries
  • Merge the Categories query, making the relationship between the POSCategoryCode in both queries

So basically, we can still retrieve related tables in Access, we just need to understand the relationships in our database and merge them manually.

Retrieve Related Tables in SQL

In SQL server, it actually pulls some things over for you nicely.

In this case I connected to the AdventureWorks database that we’re hosting in Windows Azure for course participants to use.  (Does anyone else provide an Azure hosted database to practice with?)  Specifically, I:

  • Connected to the Azure hosted AdventureWorks database
  • Selected the SalesOrderHeader table (only)
  • Filtered down the dataset to get a shorter table
  • Removed a bunch of unnecessary columns from the SalesOrderHeader table

And look what I’m left with:

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The Sales.SalesOrderDetail contains a full table of related records for each row in my table.  Those related records come from a completely separate table that I didn’t even ask for, how awesome is that?

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And the Sales.SalesTerritory column shows a “value” for each, which also has more data that can be expanded (including sub tables):

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Pretty slick, and saves me the effort of having to sleuth out and perform the joins manually.  I sure wish Access had this ability as well!

Don’t have an Azure database?

This technique works for SQL server (on prem) as well.  I’m not 100% sure which other databases support this technique, as I don’t have access to others, but if you do know, please comment here and I’ll add them to the list.

And if you really wish you had access to try out sourcing data from an Azure database… it’s not too late to sign up for our course!

Announcing Online Power Query Training!

I’m really pleased to announce that a new project I’ve been working on is live: powerquery.training, a website that offers online Power Query training!

online Power Query training

PowerQuery.Training

About PowerQuery.Training

PowerQuery.Training is a joint effort between Miguel Escobar (of PoweredSolutions.co) and myself: the two guys who are writing that Power Query book – M is for Data Monkey book.

M is for Data Monkey

M is for Data Monkey

What you can find at PowerQuery.Training

We believe that Power Query is a super important tool in the toolbox of every Excel user out there.  It's so easy to use, and so powerful, that we think everyone should know about it.  To that end, we've decided to include the following two areas on the site:

Power Query patterns

One of the areas of focus is to showcase Power Query patterns (techniques).  These patterns are well illustrated articles with supporting workbooks, which will help you build solutions for common scenarios.  There will be more coming as we have time to add them, but today you'll already find:

Online Power Query Training

We know that not everyone wants to read pages of documentation, trying to figure out how to use a new technology.  Some people want to carve out a block of time, link up with an instructor, and be taught the basics, and how to avoid the inevitable pitfalls.  That's our aim with our online Power Query training workshops.

That’s right, there will be live online offerings in order to help get you skilled up on Power Query without ever leaving the comfort of your own office!  All you need to do is dedicate 3 days of your time – well okay… and some space on your credit card – and you’ll be off to the races with this software, taming and automating the cleanup and refresh of your data.

Interested in seeing what the course covers?  Download the Course Agenda here.

Master Your Excel Data: Live Courses

I’m pleased to announce that I’m just opened registration for 3 days of Excelguru live training courses in May 2015.

Master Your Excel Data

This course will focus on using tables, PivotTables and Power Query to master your Excel data.  I’m super stoked to be teaching this, as I think Power Query is just one of the hottest tools out there right now.  Based on it’s incredible ability to set data into a useful format it only makes sense to blend it with a bit of PivotTables to show how we can take nasty data and turn it into something beautiful.

It will be a full day, hands-on experience, and I’ll be running it at the following dates/times:

  • Victoria, BC – May 11, 2015 (9:00-4:30)
  • Kelowna, BC – May 14, 2015 (9:00-4:30)

To learn more and register, click here:  http://www.excelguru.ca/content.php?291-Live-Course-Master-Your-Excel-Data

Financial Model Design

This course will focus on the steps required to build a solid financial model.  From planning to architecture and implementation, we’ll look at both theory and the tools to help it become a reality.  More than that, we’ll build a solution that is not only easy to audit, but also focus on making it stand the test of time.

It will also be a full day, hands-on experience, and I’ll be running it at the following dates/times:

  • Victoria, BC – May 12, 2015 (9:00-4:30)

To learn more and register, click here:  http://www.excelguru.ca/content.php?292-Live-Course-Financial-Model-Design

Not Coming to Your Area?

For reference, if either of these (or any other course) is something you’d like to see in your area, I’d love to hear about it. Drop us a note and let us know, as we’ll be trying to reach out further and offer more courses as the year progresses.