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Excel logo Excel demand forecasting spreadsheets

Excel is a superb personal productivity tool.  But it was never designed as a multi-user solution or as a purpose-built demand forecasting solution.  Applying Excel to a requirement it was not specifically designed to meet invariably leads to:
  • functional compromises
  • lack of multi-user access
  • significant additional manual maintenance (e.g. adding new products, customers, consolidating) just to keep the system up to date and resilient.
  • high risk of potentially damaging undetected formula etc. errors. ("The majority (>90%) of spreadsheets contain errors"  :  http://www.eusprig.org/basic-research.htm.  See also: http://panko.com/ssr/Audits.html for extensive summary of operational spreadsheet error research.)

Demand forecasting is a business-critical process.  Inaccurate forecasts cost money.

The simple fact is that using Excel for demand forecasting is a potentially costly compromise.  A compromise on functionality, on forecaster aids, on multi-user support, maintainability and scalability.  In fact, while it is great for many purposes, especially as a personal productivity tool, it is far from ideal when applied to multi-user business demand forecasting activities.

The limitations of Excel for your demand forecasting solution are:

Excel ribbon
  • no single view of the truth
  • single user
  • potential formula errors
  • inflexible views of the data
  • no forecaster aids
  • insecure
  • ineffective visibility to management
  • no automatic data loading
  • adding new products / customers cumbersome and potentially introduces formulae / consolidation errors
  • manual, time-consuming or error prone consolidations
  • limited scalability
  • reorganising hierarchies difficult and time-consuming : e.g. assigning a customer from one forecaster to another
  • complex, time consuming and error prone year end procedures
  • multi-level forecasting not supported
  • awkward, manual consolidations
  • vulnerable data interchange with business systems
The good news is that Prophecy was designed from the ground upwards for the sole purpose of giving business forecasters the tools they need to productively and efficiently develop, analyse and measure their business forecasts.

Here is a list of some of the features you get, completely 'out of the box', with Prophecy™.  Whilst it's true that some of these features can be replicated in Excel, with ingenuity, the simple fact is that Excel soon runs out of steam when it comes to delivering these items in a maintenance-free, robust and scalable way and in combination.

Prophecy ribbon
  • Forecaster cannot change formulae, actuals or budget cells, delete products or customers, forecast another user's customers.
  • Completely user-defined forecast entry and analysis screens - like Excel pivots but fully read-write.  No inflexible views, like most Excel forecast sheets.
  • Supports multi-user, concurrent forecasting without the need for cumbersome or error-prone manual consolidations
  • Full forecaster / reviewer / approval workflow built-in.
  • Create what-if / scenario versions in an instant, with full comparisons with 'live' version.
  • Low-maintenance, robust forecasting from Volumes through Profit.
  • Generate statistical forecasts via a user-friendly, 'Statistics Advisor' view without the need for specialist statistics expertise.
  • Add new products and customers automatically from SQL or text-based feeds.
  • Load all history, prices, costs etc. via automated Prophecy scripts and with no manual rekeying of data.
  • Forecast, analyse and report at any level of product and customer detail.
  • Alert the forecaster to 'risky' forecasts (versus history / statistical algorithms).
  • Track all changes to forecasts - who, when and by how much
  • Accuracy Analysis at the touch of a button.
  • Built-in Trade Promotions Planner
  • Uses highly scalable, SQL Server databases rather than Excel spreadsheet files.
  • Supports SQL query access for 'live' or batch-refreshed linkages with ERP and planning systems.

Why not read our detailed white paper comparing forecasting spreadsheets using Excel and sales forecasting using Prophecy?  It highlights the unexpected complexity of any home-grown solution compared to the 'battle-proven', professional forecasting software solution provided by Prophecy.  Please click the 'whitepaper' button below to download your copy.

Telephone 01494 785574 (UK) to talk to a Prophecy expert now!