Why Render to Excel

April 12, 2021

Qubkl is a SAAS app that automates real estate financial modeling and renders it to Excel. In thinking through the architecture of Qubkl, we decided rendering to Excel was important early on. Why extract a process out of Excel only to deliver the final product in Excel? The following is a quick walk through why Qubkl renders to Excel, the thought process of what we extracted from Excel into a web app and where we ended up.

Excel is end-user friendly

Given that it’s highly likely that Qubkl end-users have already created a real estate financial model in Excel, we wanted to mainain the flexiliblity that Excel affords when analyzing data and generated “what if” scenarios. There also edge cases in financial modeling that are idiosyncratic to the analyst or their employer. It’s almost impossible to account for all of them. By rendering all the inputted and generated data to an Excel spreadsheet, Qubkl provides the end user with the ability to work with the data to suit their needs.

Thought process

When extracting, a financial model we found it useful to focus on the hard part first. For Qubkl, that was generating cash flows from leases over a user determined holding period of time. This is difficult enough that many analysts do not do this in Excel and skip it altogether resulting in reduced granularity in assessing risk created by lease turnover. Most people that that perform this analysis, use existing software and pay additional licensing fees for add ons to export it to a format that can be imported into Excel.

Once we settled on how to extract the cash flow generation out of Excel, extracting everything else was easy: we just focused on what we needed to feed into the cash flow generator.

Where we ended up

Initially, we thought that we would use Excel as a front end but quickly realized that error checking user input in Excel would easiliy become a mess. The flip side of end user flexibility is that the end user can change validation rules and worse yet, you end up with different versions of Excel worksheets in different states among different users.

To avoid spreadsheet fail, Qubkl ended up where the user inputs the data into the Qubkl front end which also houses the current, correct state of the the inputs and different versions of that state are rendered into Excel spreasheets. Previously rendered spreadsheets are saved and act as a central repository for previous versions.

This hybrid workflow provides the end user with flexbility while providing for error checking during input and organizational state management.

Send comments, corrections to whc@qubkl.com
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