Forecast5 takes stock in hand
New Zealand-based developer Forecast5 has added a stock-in-hand feature to its SQL Server-based application.
The new functionality helps customers report production costs and budget work in progress, the company said.
Forecast5 is one of several forecasting apps that trace their origins back to the demise of Sage Winforecast. New Zealand chartered accountant Geof Nightingale was the local rep for Winforecast for 15 years. When Sage pulled the plug on the popular PC application in 2014, Nightingale didn’t want to leave his customers in the lurch.
“Winforecast was about to produce the fifth edition of the software and they then killed it,” said Johnny Kipps, Forecast5’s UK distributor. “So Geof decided to build the fifth edition and the Forecast5 brand came from that.”
Grown on the vine
The Stock on Hand module was originally designed to help the New Zealand wine industry forecast vineyard costs as grape crops matured. Some would be sold in bulk and some would end up in bottles, so the vineyards wanted to be able to keep track of those cost forecasts to optimise the returns on their harvests.
The stock in hand functionality can cater for a variety of situations and industries ranging from manufacturing materials to farms, engineering and other professional services including accountants, quantity surveyors and lawyers, who allocate time to work in progress calculations, said Kipps.
Housebuilders, for example, subdivide their land banks into units that can be developed for sale. All the different costs associated with each plot of land would be capitalised on the balance sheet and the average price of each plot computed. As plots are sold, the stock in hand tool can automatically deduct the cost of each plot from the balance sheet and put it into the profit and loss against the proceeds of the sale.
“It all sounds dreadfully simple when you just lay it out like that, but in an accounting program, or in a forecasting program, to achieve that, is an interesting piece of software to put together,” said Kipps
The traditional tool for such models and calculations is Excel, but Forecast5’s key innovation is to tie together the P&L, balance sheet, cash flow and funds flow statements. “If you are trying to do all of that in Excel, you are going to struggle,” he added.
“So when a client asks, ‘What happened to my profit report?’, Forecast5 can work back from the profits down to the remaining cash. It allows the financial manager to see exactly what happened to the cash that they were predicting in the profit and loss account.
Combining actuals with forecasts creates “the two most important tools for financial management ”, according to Kipps.
The first tool is variance analysis. “If we are budgeting for this amount and we achieve that amount, this is the variance, and this variance is built into those four reports.”
Rolling forecast is the other key tool, showing actuals to date and projecting the figures forward so the variances and the forecast are blended together. “The rolling forecast gathers in all the accounting figures from the previous months you have forecasted and adds it to the future forecast,” he said.
Gap in the market
Forecast5 continues the Winforecast tradition of bringing flexible, integrated forecasting to the small business marketplace. In the past forecasting was the preserve of large international developers such as IBM (Cognos), SAP (Business Objects), Oracle (Hyperion) and Workday (Adaptive Insights).
Then there was a wave of cloud-based reporting add-ons such as Spotlight Reporting, Fathom and Futrli that have evolved into forecasting tools. The latest trend has been for dedicated cashflow forecasting tools such as Float and Fluidly, with Xero and QuickBooks beginning to dabble in this arena with new product developments. Sage, which had a grip on the SME forecasting market with Winforecast when PC tools ruled the roost, has recently been promoting Castaway as a cloud-based alternative.
“There are a number of packages available, but as far as I know, none of them has the WIP stock in hand functionality. There are some that claim to be forecasting packages, but they are actually purely cashflow,” said Kipps.
You might also be interested in
AccountingWEB’s interim Editor in Chief has been with the site since 1999 and returned to the editorial hot seat in March 2020 to lead the hunt for a long-term successor... Send a DM if you're interested! When not tending to the needs of AccountingWEB members and geeking out on their technology habits, he devotes much of his time to his oddball...