Business Forecasting with Google Sheets
3.8 (16 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
613 students enrolled

Business Forecasting with Google Sheets

Increase your income and career prospects with business forecasting skills
3.8 (16 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
613 students enrolled
Created by Alex Tolley
Last updated 10/2015
English [Auto]
Current price: $16.99 Original price: $24.99 Discount: 32% off
23 hours left at this price!
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
This course includes
  • 4 hours on-demand video
  • 7 downloadable resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
Training 5 or more people?

Get your team access to 4,000+ top Udemy courses anytime, anywhere.

Try Udemy for Business
What you'll learn
  • Make decisions based on business data
  • You will learn how to use Google Sheets
  • You will understand how and why to smooth data and pick the best approach to apply
  • You will learn easy to understand, powerful forecasting techniques than can be easily implemented in a spreadsheet
  • You will learn how to transform data to make forecasting easier and more accurate
  • You will understand how to use charts to analyze data quickly and guide your analyses.
  • You will enhance your business skills and make more money!
  • The student will need access to a computer, preferably a desktop or laptop, to listen and follow the lectures. The student will also need a Google account, perhaps acquired for email, in order to use the spreadsheet application to answer questions. An account is not needed to just follow the lectures. However it is recommended that the student be able to use Google Sheets to try out the techniques on different data and to become familiar with Sheets' functionality by "doing".

In this Business Forecasting with Google Sheets video course, I introduce you to Google's online spreadsheet application, Sheets and how to use it for forecasting.

Learn to forecast the future with your business data

  • Why forecast?
  • Smoothing noisy data
  • Analyzing for trendlines
  • Transforming data
  • Forecasting future values

A powerful skill to increase your value and earnings.

Millions of people use spreadsheets today, usually at the the office as a data entry form. Very few actually build spreadsheets unless that is their job. The dominant spreadsheet, Excel is often bought by students but rarely used, and most working adults only have access to it at work.

Until now. Google's online spreadsheet "Sheets" has become a powerful tool through rapid iteration. While still not as powerful as Excel it does have a number of very useful, unique features. But most impotrtant. it is free to use. You can build spreadsheets at home, while on a cellphone, tablet or laptop while traveling, indeed anywhere with internet access.

This course focuses on using Google Sheets to do one of the most important business functions - forecasting.

It is a powerful, full featured, cloud based spreadsheet that can be harnessed for business forecasting in a collaborative environment, and the results directly embedded in live web pages for internal and external communication.

Content and Overview

The course uses Google sheets, a number of which are publicly available to the student. In addition there are links to web content and documents with more explanation of the concepts used.
I have broken down the content into easy to manage chunks so that you can focus on a concept and experiment and test yourself. You can complete this course in an evening or weekend and be ready to do work on Monday, although I recommend working with your own data and the data I provide to gain confidence in your new skills.

I start with some evidence of why the skills this course teaches are career drivers. Then we discuss what forecasting is. We start with the basics of smoothing data to remove noise, and then move on to techniques of implementing trendlines to forecast with. Throughout the course, each point is made using data that you see being analyzed in a live spreadsheet demonstration, that you can replicate on your own computer to nail down and internalize the technique.

Competency doing real work relevant to business is a career enhancing skill in today's job market. This course will give you a strong start in applying those skills to your business and employment.

What am I going to get from this course?

  • 32 lectures and over 3 3/4 hours of content
  • Understand how to analyze historic data to predict the likely future
  • Learn how to use built-in and custom functions to extrapolate future values
  • Able to work at home on your computer at your own pace
  • Visual training method, offering users increased retention and accelerated learning.
  • Lifetime access to me to help with your own data.
  • Unconditional Udemy 30 day money-back guarantee - that's my personal promise of your success!

Update 11/5/2015

2 new lectures added on errors to avoid with trend analysis. These are common mistakes amateurs make that you can avoid in your own analyses and look more professional when examining analyses from your colleagues.

So start learning today. Because being a technology dinosaur isn’t going to get you a promotion or raise!

- Alex Tolley

Who this course is for:
  • This course is primarily focused on young, profesionals who want to apply forecasting methods to the business they are in, in order to improve business performance and enhance their careers by becoming the "go to" person for using a spreadsheet. This course is appropriate for professionals who already know what a spreadsheet is and are somewhat familiar with what they can do, but have not yet acquired the skills to use it for forecasting. Because this course uses the free, browser based Google Sheets, the student can learn the techniques at home, with only an investment in time. The techniques can be applied to other spreadsheets, e.g. Microsoft Office Excel or OpenOffice Spreadsheet, although this course is expected to be reconstructed for these platforms. This course is not suitable for students who are completely unfamiliar with spreadsheets, or have no interest in enhancing their career prospects by helping their company solve planning problems.
Course content
Expand all 37 lectures 04:12:42
+ Preamble
1 lecture 02:18

A very brief explanation of what is in this course and how it is structured.

Preview 02:18
+ Introdution
5 lectures 26:39

Why taking this course will:

  1. make you indispensable to your boss
  2. increase your salary
  3. improve your career prospects
Preview 12:02

This lecture explains some selected features of Google Sheets that make it an outstanding choice for use in forecasting.

  • Collaboration
  • Easy to learn
  • Browser UI
  • Embeddable in web pages
  • Zero cost
The benefits of Google Sheets

Use Google Trends to analyze what people are searching for shows that demand for learning spreadsheets is increasing. Google Sheets has exploded recently as new, powerful features have been added. catch this rising wave and surf it to financial success.

Preview 04:41

Skip this lecture if you already have a Google account. This section is to get students without an account started so that they can follow along with a spreadsheet.

Creating a Google Account

Opening up a Google spreadsheet. Skip this brief lecture if you are already familiar with opening up a new spreadsheet.

Creating your first Spreadsheet

Check that student has listened to the introduction lectures

2 questions
+ What is Forecasting?
3 lectures 11:29

This lecture explains the relationship between forecasting and extrapolation and understand the difference.

  • Forecasting is a subset of extrapolation
  • Forecasting uses time data
  • Forecasting always looks forward to the future
Preview 02:21

Simple forecasting with sample slopes using the built-in SLOPE and INTERCEPT functions. Forecasting the data with a linear extrapolation Y = slope*X + intercept. [ Add resource on slopes? ]

Simple Forecasting with slope and intercept
Slopes, intercepts and Forecasting
2 questions

Simple forecasting using the built-in FORECAST function.

FORECAST function lakes argument of x and t range of data and the x value of time that you want to forecast a y value.

Preview 04:09
Forecasting volatility
1 question
+ Smoothing Data
6 lectures 30:41

The simplest form of smoothing - averaging.

Averaging takes several values which when repeated using a window, reduces the noise to make trends easier to discern.


Avoiding the using "data from the future" when averaging.

Averaged values are placed at the last time period so that the average value never uses data from a future period.

Preview 04:23

Selecting the best moving average for periodic data,for example seasonal sales data

Use the periodicity of data as the window for averaging to maximize smoothing

Choosing a Moving Average

The most recent information is probably the most salient.

  • Use a range of values
  • Weight each value with highest weights for most recent data
  • All weights must sum to 1.0
Weighted Averages
Averages Quiz
3 questions

Understand the idea behind exponential smoothing and how to apply it.

A simple method that takes the previous estimate and actual data to make a new estimate of the current data.

Preview 05:11
Exponentially smoothed forecast
1 question

Why smooth data before forecasting?

  • Provides user with better estimation of trendline type
  • Reduces time experimenting for trendline selection
  • Indicates likely data transformation steps
Preview 04:21
+ Extracting Trends
8 lectures 01:17:32

Overview of the 3 different trendline types

  • Linear : y = a*X + b
  • Exponential : y = a*e^b
  • Polynomial : y = a(n) x^n + a(n-1) X^(n-1)..... b
Trendline Types

The simplest trendline type and how to forecast from it.

  • y = a*X + b
  • easy to calculate slope and intercept
  • functions in spreadsheet do 'best fit' calculation for slope and intercept
Simple Linear Trends

Adding non-linear trendlines to charts.

  • Use scatter chart
  • select non-linear type - e.g. exponential
  • view best fit with R^2 value
  • Does the trendline look like a good fit? - tests
Preview 02:33

A brief overview of how to determine a non linear trend in data. Shows how to recognize a good trend line and how to use log plots to get linear trends from more complex data.

  • Types of trendlines
  • Tests for good fit of trendline
  • Transforming data with logarithms to make better trendline fitting
Finding Trendlines

Transforming data to logarithms to look for linear trendlines

  • Logarithms single or double can help with trendline selection
  • Double log plots often allow linear trendlines to be fitted
Transforming Data with Logarithms

Looks at a real world example - forecasting future quarterly dividends from historic data downloaded from a financial portal.

  • General Electric dividend data used as example to forecast future dividend stream
Preview 14:38

Forecasting CO2 concentration. Shows a real world example using published data and illustrates the limitation of models and the need for checking model parameters due to sensitivity.

  • Use of real CO2 data from Hawaii observatory
  • Fitting a trendline to data to forecast future CO2 levels
  • Discussion of limitations of fitted terndline
Real World Example - Atmospheric CO2 levels

Experience effects on costs. Example for forecasting future costs based on a small data sample of time to produce widgets and how to forecast future costs as labor gains manufacturing experience.

Experience Curves
Extracting Trends
6 questions
+ Non Seasonal and Seasonal Sales Data Forecasting
3 lectures 27:12

Forecasting non-seasonal data with moving averages and trend lines

  • Plot data
  • Create moving averages
  • Use MAVs to select trendline
Preview 09:16

Explains how to do seasonal forecasting using comparable data and trendlines

  • Separating each season so that trendlines can be built for each season independently.
  • Least assumptions used
  • Cost of limited data
Seasonal Sales Forecasting 1

A different approach to seasonal forecasting de-seasonalizing data, creating a baseline and then forecasting against the baseline.

  • Use averages to ascertain trendline type
  • Add trendline as a baseline
  • Create seasonal factors for each season
  • Forecast using baseline and seasonal factors
Seasonal Sales Forecasting 2
Sales Forecasting
3 questions
1 lecture 11:33

Compares the main chart types used for forecasting

  • Trend
  • Line chart
  • Scatter plot
  • Features, advantages or each is discussed
Which Types of Chart to use for Forecasting
5 questions
+ Modeling Profits and Cash Flow
1 lecture 07:47

This lecture looks at tracking down a small company's overdraft problem. It builds on the forecasting already learned to investigate how a profitable company can have a deepening overdraft and how to fix it.\

  • Chart P&L
  • Estimate seasonal cash flow
  • Chart cash flow
  • Reduce cash outflows during low season sales
Where is the company overdraft coming from?
+ Creating Your Own Functions
2 lectures 14:23

This lecture introduces scripting to create custom functions. It will show you how to code a simple exponential smoothing function that we met in lecture 12.

Preview 07:39

The lecture will create a custom function that uses logic to determine an output.

  • If..then logic coded in a simple custom functiom
  • demonstrates that it works identically to spreadsheet built in function composition
Decisons, Decsisions
4 questions
+ Other Tasks
3 lectures 24:40

Demonstrating uploading an external Excel spreadsheet and downloading it again.

  • How to upload a spreadsheet
  • Compatibility issues between spreadsheet platforms
  • Download file types
Uploading and downloading spreadsheets

Demonstration of how collaboration works.

  • How to add collaborators
  • Editing the live document by collaborators in different locations
  • Spreadsheet updating response viewed in different locations
Collaborating on the same worksheet

This lecture shows you how to make a spreadsheet the source of live data to a web page.

  • creating a simple spreadsheet
  • creating a web page stub to view the spreadsheet
  • setting the cell range for viewing
  • viewing teh completed document
Embedding a live spreadsheet into a web page

Quiz on "Other Tasks" section

4 questions