5Cast: A New Way To Look At The FuturePosted on Apr 14, 2015 12:00:00 AM
We are excited to roll out 5Cast, the newest version of our five-year forecasting software. When we embarked on the development project, we knew it was going to be challenging. As a team, we have been doing financial forecasting for more than 15 years, and the original platform, the Financial Planning Program or “FPP”, has served its users very well. As you might imagine, over such a lengthy period of time, the FPP software contained a tremendous amount of intellectual (and sweat) equity. So, the development challenge was significant…”can we transform the FPP platform into a tool that will be even more valuable for our clients?”
The high level development requirements for 5Cast were simple, but generically defined. 5Cast needed to be more powerful, more flexible, and faster than FPP. Those requirements of Power, Flexibility, and Speed sound like CEO pep rally material…but here is what they meant to us:
In software parlance, you generally think of power as it relates to processing speed and capacity…and 5Cast was built with plenty of horsepower. But, we were looking at power in terms of decision making. Could we build a new tool that would unlock information buried deep inside local government accounting systems? Could we create an interface that would allow the CFO to discover trends with increased insight? Could we build a scenario simulator that would guide decision making with increased foresight?
Our previous models have really been locked applications and highly procedural in terms of the interaction with the model. The data input and report output were greatly pre-defined…which was not the worst situation in the world, but we felt like there was an opportunity to open things up. Could we allow the user to define the source and level of data granularity imported into the model? Could we allow the user to choose a top-down or bottom-up build strategy? Could we design a flexible reporting engine that would let the user extract the information that they were interested in?
Obviously we wanted the new application to operate fast and smooth. But, in terms of developing and delivering a five year financial projection, we were most interested in creating a fast door-to-door experience. We really wanted to reduce the total time required to produce a meaningful projection so that the CFO could spend more time analyzing scenarios and business strategies. Could we significantly reduce the data gathering and input processes? Could we design the assumptions engine to allow flexibility in the level of detail entered based on the user preference? Could we design the scenario engine in a way to provide nearly instant comparative feedback?
With the Forecast5 development team accepting the challenge and answering all the questions related to power, flexibly, and speed, we are ready to partner with CFOs from across the country as they begin to utilize this next generation of financial forecasting software. To learn more about how to get started, click here to let us know you are ready for “Data With A Future”.
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Mike English is a founder and the CEO/President of Forecast5 Analytics, Inc. – a technology company focused on software development and data analytics for the public sector. Mike has spent his entire career concentrating on the development of financial and strategic solutions for schools and municipalities. Forecast5 is headquartered in Naperville, Illinois – a suburb 30 miles west of Chicago.