• February 1, 2007
  • By Colin Beasty, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Tech Solution: Sales Forecasting Tools

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Sales forecasting can be a painful, expensive, time-consuming process that fails to produce accurate results. Many organizations lack a forecasting solution; others use ad hoc, best-guess practices that don't help close sales opportunities or lead to reliable company performance. Forecasting processes are often stovepiped within the sales organization, lack analytics, and fail to integrate input from other business functions like marketing, finance, and operations. Sales forecasting software provides the answer. Cognos 8 Planning Delivery Model: installed software Price: Cognos 8 Planning is based on a role-based licensing structure, with list prices ranging from $800 to $2,300. Business Benefits: Cognos Planning is an integrated operational and financial planning and forecasting solution that integrates data in real time. It allows sales forces to create, compare, and evaluate business scenarios, conditions, drivers, rates, and assumptions. Sales managers can access current financial and customer data to assess fiscal performance, and proceed from what is to evaluate the what-if scenarios for forecasting models. Functionality: End users can compare and manipulate data across myriad dimensions, perspectives, or versions. A sales rep could compare targets among teams and individuals with current and historical data and with external benchmarks to establish their viability and consistency. Cognos Planning also helps eliminate time-consuming spreadsheet activities like tracking down numbers, fixing broken links, and debugging macros by automating many of these processes. An Add-in For Excel browser gives users controlled participation in planning, budgeting, and forecasting, and lets finance personnel integrate with the process. Contact: Cognos at 1-800-426-4667; or visit www.cognos.com. Hyperion System 9 Planning Delivery Model: installed software Price: Pricing for System 9 Planning and services starts at $200,000. Business Benefits: Businesses can increase the probability of closing forecasted opportunities, integrate directly with other corporate functions, support manufacturing and distribution groups, forecast their capacity requirements, and assist finance in reporting on material changes. In the process, a sales manager can shorten forecasting cycles, lower inventory costs, maintain higher order fulfillment levels, and expect increased revenue predictability. Functionality: The System 9 sales forecasting solution focuses on facilitating collaboration between business functions relevant to the forecasting process and enterprise data. It uses preembedded connections to ERP, supply chain management, and other corporate applications to form an informational foundation for both topographical and drill-down analysis. Data that can be sliced and diced includes customer demand data, planned sales activities, historical sales information, capacity constraints, and inventory conditions. Contact: Hyperion at 1-800-286-8000; or visit www.hyperion.com. Oco Reporting and Analytics Delivery Model: Web-based Price: $200,000 for implementation along with a monthly maintenance fee of 20 percent of the initial fee Business Benefits: Oco offers an on-demand business analytics platform that has an average implementation time of approximately six weeks. As part of the SaaS platform, the company has embedded a sales forecasting component that allows sales managers to forecast sales pipelines or sales and product margins. Functionality: Drill-down menus allow users to define the range and scope of a report and thus improve visibility into sales data. Managers can monitor business events to determine when they fall below or rise above KPI benchmarks. End users can define different methods of data delivery to internal personnel or external business partners via email, PDAs, pagers, or cell phones. Contact: Oco at 1-800-691-8880; email inforequest@oco-inc.com; or visit www.oco-inc.com. Contact Assistant Editor Colin Beasty at cbeasty@destinationCRM.com.
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