On Sept 21, on the Ops Rules Blog, David Simchi-Levi responded to a question about whether to make network design decisions with a spreadsheet or commercial tool.
He says the main reason is that Excel is not set up to handle the complexity of the problem and the mathematical optimization. In addition, he cites several advantages of a commercial package:
- Ease of use of setting up the data and validating it
- Built in optimization and analytics which cannot be done with a spreadsheet
- Built in maps, graphs, scenario comparison and reporting capabilities
- Tested and stable platform for continued analysis – easy to transfer and share with other users
If you want to see a 15-minute video of commercial tool, here is a link.
I would add just one more point: There is a lot at stake with network design. You can be making decisions that impact significantly impact your costs and service. You should make sure you understand, at least at a high level, the math involved in these before you do the project in Excel. This way, you will have a sense of what you are giving up.