Forecast5 joins WinForecast replacement race

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One item of interest at Accountex 2016 was the hard launch of budgeting and cashflow tool Forecast5 in the UK.

Built specifically to replace WinForecast after Sage announced the axing of its much-loved forecasting tool, Forecast 5 joins products such as Xero add-on Crunchboards, Figurewizard and foreCASH in the race to succeed it.

Forecast 5 was developed in New Zealand by Geof Nightingale, who distributed WinForecast for 14 years down under, and is designed to look and function in a very similar way to WinForecast to allow for simple migration of knowledge and data.

It has been available in New Zealand for two and half years, and a version has been updated to incorporate UK requirements two months ago. The current ‘version three’ iteration got its hard launch at Accountex 2016, and an unscientific look at the popularity of its stand at the conference showed that accountants had lost none of their enthusiasm for all things WinForecast.  

“Progressing to the UK was a natural step, because this market loved WinForecast,” former chartered accountant Nightingale told AccountingWEB. “It was a popular product, so when Sage stopped supporting it I looked for a similar program to keep my clients happy but couldn’t find one”.

Nightingale’s solution was to develop and enhance the product and launch his own package.

“We developed Forecast5 as a replacement for WinForecast and have enhanced some of its functions and features,” added Nightingale. “For instance, our package offers monthly currency exchange rates, not a single one. It runs on a Microsoft SQL database: an industry standard, not a proprietary one.

“For example it has an employee group option under wages records: if you have 700 staff, 300 of whom are labourers, WinForecast required you to budget each employee separately; with Forecast5 you would need just one record.

For those still using WinForecast, Nightingale told AccountingWEB that although their developers were not able to create a ‘one-click migration’ for their data, there was a relatively simple ten-step process to bring data across to Forecast 5.  

As for the future of the software, Forecast5’s UK distributor, Johnny Kipps told AccountingWEB that the product has a solid development path ahead of it.

“The first thing we’re working on is an integration with Sage 50,” said Kipps. “The beta for that is out, and once that’s finished there will be integration with Intuit and Xero, and we already have one with SAP.

“Then we will put out a cloud version of the product and a software as a service for those who want to be able to pay monthly and to have it all updated from the remote server.

The company are also looking to put a business intelligence add-on at the far end of the tool, and provide a forecast model for products like Exact to enable them to provide a wider service to their clients.

You can take a look at the product at www.Forecast5.im, and take it for a trial by downloading a fully featured version for 21 days, here. A single user licence for Forecast 5 is available for £999, with a consolidated version costing £1,495. There is also a yearly licence fee charge which ranges from £200 to £390. Full pricing details can be found on the company's website.

What have you found as an alternative to WinForecast? Is it doing the job?

*This article has been amended to include the product price*

About Tom Herbert

Tom is editor at AccountingWEB, responsible for all editorial content on the site. If you have any comments or suggestions for us get in touch.

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08th Jun 2016 11:10

Absolutely no mention of the price anywhere, that always annoys the hell out of me

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to carnmores
09th Jun 2016 11:55

Thanks carnmores, I've now amended the article to include the pricing details.

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08th Jun 2016 11:54

I saw it at Accountex after a initial trial earlier in the year.
It was good to see it as I was huge fan of winforecast and my copy sadly died when my PC upgraded to Windows 10.

They have improved the look of the product but it looks old fashioned when compared to modern alternatives. Plus it only does the numbers so still a look of work to pull a bus plan together. People now expect a lot more visual data with the plans with graphs and charts etc which this is clearly lacking in.

Also the price was about £1200 for the consolidated version plus about £350 per year licence fee which is a lot more than winforecast plus i don't get the annual licence fee for what is a stand alone product.

I use another product now which very quickly puts together the whole plan not just the numbers and costs about $10 pe month while your working on the client and then when you have finished the charge stops when you archive the report until you revisit it the following year.

The final output is very good as includes a lot of summary graphs and charts in the plan and you simply fill in the text around them. Its very quick to use and final output looks very polished.

There was a 25% discount available at Accountex but It still think the product is over priced for most sole traders, and it does look tired compared to Xero add ons like crunch boards etc

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to Glennzy
09th Jun 2016 12:02

Thanks for your feedback Glennzy, always appreciated.

It is considerably more than Winforecast, but when I spoke to Forecast 5 their argument was that they had more functionality and Winforecast was priced to close the product down.

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to TomHerbert
09th Jun 2016 13:57

Thanks Tom i was having a pop at the wesbite

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By JOhnnyK
to carnmores
09th Jun 2016 14:35

The pricing is there, Carnmores, at the foot of the HomePage (and all other pages, too, I think) under the desription "Pricing and Ordering".

And here is the link
http://forecast5.co.uk/pricing/

Incidentally, I agree with you; it annoys me as well when prices aren't disclosed!

Johnny Kipps
Forecast5

Thanks (1)
to TomHerbert
09th Jun 2016 16:41

I did the trial Tom and couldn't see much added functionality it was just a bit more Windows 10 looking and bit more pleasing on the eye.

When I asked about pricing is was told that winforecast used to sell for a lot more money in Aus & NZ and so the price point was set at their market rate.

Winforecast was always about £350 to £400 as a stand alone purchase with no need for an additional annual licence fee, so not sure about this priced to close down comment. At £500/£600 it would be worth buying but I couldn't justify £1500 for a copy.

The beauty of Winforecast was it was cheap and easy to use.

Its hard to know where it now fits in the market as for simple jobs the xero add ons are easy to use and output look better. For more complex stuff I imagine most just build big Excel spreadsheet for its flexability.

I suppose the market will decide if they sell many licences or have to drop their prices.

Cloud hosted with a banded subscription model is where everything is going.

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to Glennzy
09th Jun 2016 13:58

Hi Glenzzy , could you let me know what you use either here or by PM please, Nick

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to carnmores
09th Jun 2016 16:20

Hi Carnmores

I use Liveplan for business planning it is ideal for most of my clients. It does not do consolidations.
It is American based so has a few quirks in it.

But it is very easy to use and produces a good looking document fully indexed up document in very short space of time. I am suprised more people dont use it.

PM your email over if you want to see a sample plan.

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to Glennzy
09th Jun 2016 18:41

well i have still got my old machine which i will keep solely for win4cast, and i think the disks

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