Journal of International Information Management


This article describes and illustrates the use of two spreadsheet problem-solving tools— Solver and Backsolver. These tools are available in high-end software spreadsheet packages such as Lotus 1-2-3 for Windows and Excel for Windows. The illustrations and examples provided in this article use 1-2-3 for Windows and Windows 3.1 as the operating platform. Any business owner using a DOS based operating system and the Windows Graphical User Interface has access to the Solver and Backsolver. Both tools utilize a form of what-if analysis. Traditional what-if analysis requires that the business owner manually alter the contents of a spreadsheet cell and observe the effects on other dependent cells. This is a trial and error approach, whereas Solver and Backsolver work from the other direction by asking the business owner to specify a goal. The Solver and Backsolver will automatically adjust one or more input cells in order to reach the goal.