Microsoft Solver? If you answered “No”, I am not surprised. MS Solver is a very powerful, but little known free Add-In tool.
To find it in Excel 2007, click on the Microsoft Button, and click the Excel Options button at the bottom of the dropdown. Then choose Add-Ins and select Solver Add-in.
To find it in Excel 2003, simply go to Tools / Add-Ins, put a check mark next to Solver Add-in and click OK.
What it Do for You!
Let’s say that you have several shifts of call center employees that overlap, and you are trying to optimize the scheduling to best handle the projected incoming calls. By using MS Solver, you can quite quickly find the most favorable balance for the schedule.
The trick is set your Target Cell (this may be a cell in which you are trying to find the best sum, average, or standard deviation) in the Solver Parameters, and make it subject to various cells that you wish to change (the totals for each shift in this case). You can also make it subject to Constraints such as whole numbers (good when counting people...).
MS Solver can be effectively used to maximize sales/profit plans, strategic planning, optimizing a product mix, and even picking a winning team! There are countless other applications that are only limited by your imagination.
Now it does takes a bit of effort setting up your worksheet, but the results are quite remarkable! Show them that you truly are a Genius; give Microsoft Solver a try!