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*