Revenue Forecasting with True Sky (Video)

Accurate revenue projections are crucial to business planning. See how True Sky will simplify the process so you can have timely and accurate information to better drive your business.

Webinar transcript:

Melissa: Hi there, everyone. Thanks for joining us. This is Melissa Greenhill. I’m a marketing specialist here with Encore. So today, we have with us, Alan Whitehouse from True Sky. And he’ll be talking about revenue forecasting. Hi there, Alan.

Alan: Hi there. How are you doing today?

Melissa: Great. How are you?

Alan: Good. Thank you.

Melissa: Awesome. Feel free to take it away.

Alan: All right. So I’ll take it over from here. So what I wanna do is start with a couple of housekeeping slides. And then I’m gonna talk a little bit about True Sky at a high-level, show some slides, talk a little bit about what we do. And then I will show some of our application. Everyone, keep in mind that I’m not gonna be able to have time to show you everything that we do. We’re only gonna be here for half an hour. But we will leave some time at the end for some questions. So we will send you out, afterwards, a link to the recording. So if you like it, you wanna see it again, share it with somebody, great, you’ll know where that is.

Right now, all of your phones are on mute. So if you have any questions, we will answer them at the end. You can type them into the GoToWebinar question box. And we will make sure we leave some time at the end to get to them. And there will be a little super quick exit survey that will pop up. When you leave, please take a moment to answer it. It just does help us get better at doing these types of webinars. So let’s start with this as to why you need a revenue forecasting, a sales forecasting, whatever term we wanna use type of application. And I’m gonna go on the assumption that most of you are using Excel today. And why is that? Well, it really comes down to Excel is a very powerful tool. It’s flexible. It allows you to model any process you want, whether that be expenses, or revenue, or compensation, what have you. It’s got super powerful calculation.

So again, if you are doing like sales forecasting, you can do a lot of kind of what if kinda scenarios with trending and get to where you need to be. It has a very rich presentation layer. It has high user adoption. But as you all probably realize, Excel isn’t perfect. It’s not a database. You’ve got a whole lot of manual steps that go, especially if you were trying to pull data from your host ERP system, or your order entry system, or your CRM system, whatever the case may be. It doesn’t really have built in workflow and there are no audit trails when people make individual changes to individual cells. You tend to have a lot of version control issues over time. How many spreadsheets do you have on your desktop that are called like Book I Version I, Book I Version 2, or so forth, and which is the last latest version because you just can’t go by the last save date?

And unfortunately, Excel can be sometimes error prone. In fact, some studies have shown that 90% of all spreadsheets contains some form of error. Now, hopefully, your errors aren’t as big as what happened to JP Morgan who lost $6 billion because of copy-paste and…an error there, or that you were, say, Fidelity that we’re off by $2.6 billion on their financials because of a minus sign error right there. But take those down and scale those down to the everyday kinda things and look at what those might mean to your business. Odds are, you have some material errors in your forecasting and budgeting-type spreadsheets. So again, that’s one of the things that we wanna help you with.

Now, why do you wanna look at something like True Sky? Well, at the end of the day, we are going to allow you to focus on all the high-value things that go along with doing a budget and a forecast, and get away from all that drudgery that drives you insane. And really, we’re gonna help three different, you know, kinda user bases within your organization. The first one we’re gonna help are what we call contributors. Those are the people that are doing the frontline, the initial data input. And we’re gonna help reduce the time and the effort that it takes for them to get through a budget or a forecast.

When it comes to the finance group, who’s the other group of stakeholders that we help, we’re gonna help minimize the administration overhead it takes to run a forecast. And we’re gonna increase the quality of the numbers that they get in. And at the end of the day, when it comes to decision makers, we’re gonna provide meaningful information, not just raw numbers, and it’s gonna help them reduce risk and avoid surprises.

So when it comes to True Sky, we have a couple of key pillars as to kind of what we provide and what we’re trying to empower you with. So one of those is that we want you to be able to continue to leverage the use of Excel. Now, it might seem kinda strange that we’re saying this after you just talked about how error prone Excel was. But why do we want you to continue to leverage Excel? Well, first and foremost, it has rapid user adoption, right? People in your organization already know how to use Excel. Therefore, you can roll out things in Excel with minimal training.

Excel has a huge depth and breadth of functionality. It’s been around for 30 years and it’s got everything you could think of. It’s got incredible ease of use and a huge amount of flexibility. And we here at True Sky really, really, truly believe that from an end user interface point of view, Excel is the absolute best tool you can use for doing budgeting and forecasting. But we’re gonna take that and we’re gonna take away all the pains that go along with using Excel. And we’re also gonna add in some specific enhancements to help you with the budgeting and forecasting process. So you’re gonna get the best of using Excel and we’re gonna take away all that pain that goes along with using Excel.

When it comes to the pillars, we wanted to make sure that we could empower the finance group in your organization. And how do we do that? Well, we’re gonna centralize your data. So data is not gonna reside in a dozen or a hundred different Excel workbook. It’s all gonna be in a central database. We’re gonna give you things like audit trails as data security, and application, and data security. We’re gonna give you, excuse me, automatic real time merging of all of your data. That’s probably one of the biggest pain points of using Excel today. We’ll give you direct integration to multiple data sources. We’re gonna promote the accountability in your organization from what…who people are putting in numbers. And thanks to our build once design, you’re gonna dramatically reduce the amount of effort it takes to get through a budgeting cycle.

And then finally, when it comes to the final pillar, we wanna help facilitate knowledge, right? And we’re gonna allow you to do that by easily involving more people in the budgeting and forecasting process. We’re gonna allow you to capture both quantitative and qualitative data. We’re gonna give you deep dive analysis into your numbers, increased accuracy, and at the end of the day, decision level information.

Well, I know today we’re talking about budgeting and forecasting…or really revenue forecasting, excuse me. But these are just some of the things up on screen that you can do with True Sky. So you can do financial planning, compensation planning, sales/revenue forecasting, kinda what we’re talking about today, expenses, cap ex, project costs or project revenue, production planning, inventory planning, all those kinda things that True Sky can do.

We also allow you to do reporting and dashboarding with True Sky. And again, we’re not really touching on all of these today, but it is available. So consolidated budget reports. If you’re doing financial budgeting, presentation income statements, balance sheet, cash flows, budgets to actual type reports, things around FTI and headcounts, KPIs and dashboards, pretty much any data that we’ve got in True Sky, you can do that.

So when it comes to sales and forecasting, a couple of things to keep in mind. We can easily integrate data from your electronic data sources. So whether that be your ERP system, your order entry system, your customer relationship management system, those can all become data sources for True Sky, okay? We’re going to allow you to involve more people into the process. So getting things like department managers, sales managers, salespeople involved in the process, who know their customers or their products and the sales landscape the best.

We’re gonna be able to ultimately transform your sales pipeline into kind of visual dashboards and reports. So again, seeing where you’re gonna end up. We’re gonna ultimately improve your accuracy and your version control. And you can continue to use that familiar Excel interface, like I’ve talked about, but not have all of the limitations that you’re working with today.

So with that, I’m gonna get out of the slides and show you a little bit about our application. Now, keep in mind, I’m not gonna be able to show you everything we do. And there is a ton of what we do. So I’m just trying to give you a flavor. And hopefully, if you wanna learn more after this, we’ll give you our contact information so you know how to get ahold of us and find out more.

So right now on screen, you’re seeing Excel. And again, I’m gonna show you how end users integrate with True Sky. So Home, Insert, Page Layout, all of the traditional tabs that you’re used to working with in Excel today. And then where we come in here is in the True Sky tab. Now, the first thing that I have to point out, we support multiple languages and multiple data formats for those languages. So if you have operations where your…you know, part of your organization is working in English, part is working in French, as an example, you can deploy that within True Sky. Again, people can work in the language of their choice.

So again, if I’m somebody that prefers to work in French, as an example, I have that available to me. The next thing I wanna point out is this little button that’s called the Hub. The Hub is the central area where an end user goes to see what they have to work on and what they have access to. And the two tabs I’m gonna focus on are Assignments and Report. So Assignments are input sheets, how you get data into the system. So as an example, when it comes to reforecast and when it comes to the sales forecast, you can see, I have a couple of different tasks I have to work on like the reforecast input or the sales and revenue forecast. And when it comes to Reports, I have like a reforecasting dashboard available to me. And I have a couple of different financial statements as an example.

These are what I see when I log in. When another user logs in, they would see something completely different. So as an example, I can also be part of the compensation planning process. But the user next to me and the desk next to me, or in today’s world, in the house across the street because we’re all working from home, they may not be able to work on compensation planning, so they won’t even see it on the list here. Everything we do in True Sky dynamically renders itself to the individual user based on their specific security settings and what has been published by the administrator.

Other things that we’re gonna start bringing to the table with True Sky, things like start and end date. So you’re gonna be able to control when people can start working on the budget, and more importantly, when you were done with a budget cycle whether that’d be a once a year budget cycle or a budget, you know, reforecast that you’re doing every month, you’re gonna be able to control that, and you can lock them out when you no longer want them to make changes. So you never have to worry about numbers changing randomly, and where you don’t know where did that change come from, how did we get here and so forth?

We also have a complete workflow approval engine built into True Sky that you can use to route your numbers through various levels of approval. So as an example, if we’re talking about sales forecasting and revenue forecast, you could have all of your sales people putting in their sales forecasts. And then those numbers would roll up to say a sales manager who might approve or reject those numbers. And then those numbers might, you know, roll up to a district manager, or a regional manager, or a VP of sales, or whatever the case may be. So you have a complete workflow approval process that you can put in place with True Sky as well.

So what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna open up an input sheet for me to work on the sales and revenue forecast. And what the system did was go out and bring back and render a template specifically for me and what I am allowed to see and work with. And I’m gonna show you a couple of different ways that you can do forecasting. This is not the only ways you can do it. I’m gonna show you something where you can forecast by customer and by product, then something just by product, and then something just by customer. Again, different people do it differently.

So right here, I’m gonna start with the customer and product forecast. And then right down here, you can see…it’s asking me to select a customer. And if I click on my Edit list here, I’m gonna be given a list of customers that I have access to. Now, this list can be integrated with your source data systems. So if you add a new customer to your ERP system, or your order entry system, or your CRM system, wherever we’re getting the list of customers, we will automatically pick it up in True Sky. You no longer have to maintain two different systems. So we’re gonna take that workload off of your shoulders.

And again, this list is gonna be governed by security. So I will only see, say, as a salesperson, the customers that are assigned to me. So I’m gonna go ahead and retrieve data for Herman’s World of Sporting Goods. And now, what it’s doing is it’s going out and picking up that customer. And not only is it gonna bring me back customer information of that customer, it is now figuring out which products that I am allowed to budget or to forecast for this customer. Because you can put rules in place and say, “This customer, you can only forecast for these products,” or, “This customer only gets these products.” So again, what it allows you to do is be very detailed with the type of budgeting and forecasting you’re doing.

Now, a couple of things I wanna talk about here. What you see on this layout, what’s on rows, what’s on columns, color shading, font control is completely up to you, okay? I’m showing my forecast for 2020 with my prices, and then ultimately getting at the amount here. But you can see, I’m limiting it to three months at a time. But I can expand out and I can now budget out for 12 months at a time, or I can go 60 months at a time, or I could be going on a rolling-type forecast basis. I also have the ability to see more on my prices.

Right here, a couple of things I wanna point out. I’m budgeting on a calendar year, but you could be budgeting on a fiscal year and forecasting on a fiscal year, enter on a calendar, report on a fiscal, enter on a fiscal report on a calendar. I’m budgeting on a monthly basis, but we also support daily, weekly, quarterly, or yearly, okay? And when it comes time to start entering in numbers, I can just type in what is the quantity that I expect today. Now, you’ll see a couple of things here as I type in as they change.

So first of all, I am putting in numbers here. But if I try to change my prices, in example, you’ll see I’m locked down and prevented from doing that. So in this setup, we’re allowing users to only enter quantities, be able to see the price, and be able to see what their totals are gonna be at the end of the day, but not edit the price. And they can even put in things like discounts. In this example, I’m doing it by a discount percentage.

Now, other things that you see that I might be putting in here, and you’ll see some of these numbers change, and you see how it’s going from red to, you know, not red, to a normal number. We’re putting in some visual clues that allow people that maybe some of the numbers that they’re putting in are excessive, right? So I’m giving them immediate feedback that says, “You know what, 300 for this month based on say last year’s numbers or you’re trending for different things is too much too see, because now, here are my actuals that you’ve got right here.”

So again, we’re giving them that greater feedback that they’ve got while they’re doing the budgeting and the forecasting process. And again, right here, we’re giving them some sparklines to kinda see how their numbers are trending as they go through with their numbers. So again, everything that they need at their fingertips to do budgeting.

Now, other things that you can see here, I’m showing what the product SKU number and the product name is. There are also additional information that you can source for them. So this is, you know, the bike category and then the sub category, so again, whatever helps them doing budgeting and forecasting. You can also give them visualization. So here, I can see what my product mix is by, you know, how I’m breaking it down. So again, whether your people are very numbers-based or graphical-based, they can get at the data here. Now, because this is Excel, I have all of that same kind of functionality that I’m used to working with Excel, like copy-paste, click-and-drag, is equal to the sum of these numbers right here.

So again, I don’t have to learn any unique syntax just to operate with True Sky. So your people can pick it up very, very rapidly with very little training that is needed. Now, other things that we bring to the table as True Sky is a series of tools that help get you in and out of the budgeting forecast quicker. So right here, maybe what I wanna do is I know what I’m gonna spend over the course or what I’m gonna forecast right here. And I know they’re gonna do…you know, at the end of the year, it’s gonna be 600 units, right? And I don’t wanna have to go cell by cell and do the math myself. So right here, I’m gonna say, even, I’m gonna hit replace. And it automatically knew that 600 units divided by 12 was 50 units a month.

So again, giving them tools to do bulk increases, bulk decreases to their numbers without having to go cell by cell, by cell. Again, it gets your people in quicker and faster. And, you know what, I know the target is gonna be here 600. But you know what, I wanna base this on the trending on how their numbers were last year. So here, I’m hitting my goal of 600. But now, I’m trying to get based on how that customer bought product from us last year. So there’s a lot of those kinda things that are available here as well so you can do things, okay? Other things that we give you, direct drill down back to far more detail of the information.

So I’m doing a budget and a forecast here. Well, before I share the drill down, I can actually add notes here, right, so I can actually put in commentary about why they’re gonna buy this, right? So you’ve got the ability to add commentary, so that qualitative information to your numbers here. We give you the ability to have complete audit trail. So anytime people make changes to the numbers, you can actually track who made what changes. We also give you great drill down capability within True Sky. So right here, I’m gonna go with links. And right here, maybe I wanna see what is all about this product? Maybe, I don’t know necessarily what this Road-150 Red 52 product is.

Well, instead of me having to go somewhere else, I’m gonna right there do a quick drill down. I think I grabbed the wrong one here. Let me see what I got going. Oh, I think I set up the wrong one. I’ll show you something else here in just a minute for it. But what we give you is things like drill downs…yup, I have the wrong ones set up here. But now, I can actually even do other things here. So maybe I wanna view more information about this product. So I’m gonna go with summaries right here. And you can see here, it’s showing me all of the additional information about this item. Or maybe I wanna see what are some of the related products that are related to this.

So right here, based on the logic, I get to see all of the different products that you have available right here working with this one product. So that’s kinda showing you by customer, by product. And then ultimately, at the end of the day, based on your rules, if you’re doing things like financial budgeting and well, these numbers would feed your financial, and the different revenue, and cost of good solds account.

So let me show you just, you know, a different kinda slice of this, which is budgeting by product, right? So right here, I’m gonna, instead of going with customer product, I’m just gonna do a customer forecast. Now again, instead of seeing back all my products, I can choose to bring back a product category. So I can choose say, mountain bikes here. And now, what it’s gonna do is bring back all of the products that are related to the category of mountain bike. So I don’t have to see the whole list, I can just focus on a particular category when I am doing budgeting.

And now, in this example, you see it’s a little bit different because not only can I put in numbers, but here, I can actually edit the forecast, what we’re gonna sell it for. So again, you can give different people different security rights to what kind of data they can change. So maybe, only certain people can change the price, but everyone can change the quantity. And then again, this is gonna get me what my forecasted dollars are going to be at the end of the day. And I will see if this drill down right here is what I’m looking for. Yup.

So right here, if I wanted to find out more about this Mountain-100 silver bikes, if you’ve got to see a published product catalog, you can go out and bring back exactly the information about this product on the product catalog right here. And again, it is dynamic. So if I go down to see this item right here and run that same list, it’ll know to bring back a different product for me so I can get a little bit more information about this. So it’s, again, great for people that are doing budgeting and forecast and they may not know your whole product catalog. So again, different ways you can budget differently.

And now, I’m just…say, you’re just doing something at a pure customer level kind of thing here. So I’m gonna go into the customer forecast. Now again, I can choose what type of customer I bring back. Am I bringing back retail or wholesale customers in this example? And again, the list that I see here is going to be controlled by security. So if I don’t get to see a customer, it won’t even appear on this list. If you have named accounts that only that salesperson can work with, great, it’s going to show up here.

But now, I’m doing something a little bit differently here. Not only do I see my list of customers and not only do I have, again, that visualization to kinda see, you know, what are their total sales and so forth, here, I’m getting some additional feedback as I’m budgeting. You know, of our customers, what is their global rank as far as sales go? So it kinda made me know how much effort I should send in thinking about my budgeting for this customer. Are they one of our top 25? And in this budget cycle, are they one of our top 25s?

And again, I can start putting in all of my different numbers here and different criteria will change here. So again, we’re trying to make your people more effective, let them focus on where they need to focus, rather than try to do everything. Especially when we’ve got a huge list of customers like this, maybe I wanna spend all the time just working on the starred type of customers. And at the end of the day, I can see, you know, how my budget is gonna break down. And again, I get that visual of it on what the sales are, you know, again, if I’m a more visual-type person.

So that gives you a couple of different ways that we can do budgeting and forecasting in True Sky. This is not everything that we can do when it comes to revenue forecasting. So I’m gonna give a couple of wrap up slides and then we’re gonna open it up to any kinda questions that you might have. So again, when it comes to budgeting and forecasting, you can do any kind of budgeting and forecasting process that you want with True Sky.

So at the end of the day, you’re gonna get all of the strengths of Excel. You’re gonna get that flexibility that goes along with Excel. You’re gonna be able to model any process that you can think about with it. You can have all of that powerful calculations, you get the rich presentation layer, and you get the high user adoption. But you’re also gonna get the added control that True Sky brings to it. You’re going to get the fact that we’re database driven. You’re gonna get that workflow that goes along with it. You’re gonna get the approval process. You’re gonna get security. You’re gonna get audit trails. You’re gonna get all of our productivity tools. You’re gonna get direct integration back to your source data.

And because you can build a template once and it shows differently for, you know, 100 different people, you can build it once, you’re gonna save yourself a lot of time and effort. At the end of the day, you’re gonna get an enterprise solution. You’re gonna get one version of the truth. You’re gonna get centralized control. You’re gonna get not just numbers, but actionable information that’s gonna help reduce risk and avoid surprises.

So if you want to get more information by all means, contact Encore. They know how to get ahold of us. You can also go out to our website. We’ve got some additional videos and information about the product there. But usually, what would happen next is if you’re interested, get ahold of us. We’d be more than happy to do a more detailed demo with you, decide, you know, are we the right product for you? Do a kind of scope review with you, what would you like to deploy within True Sky? And then ultimately, send you a detailed proposal that kinda shows you, you know, how this is gonna help you out.

So with that, I’m gonna stop talking right now. And I’m gonna open it up for any kind of questions. Before you drop off, I do like to thank you for taking time out of your day to see a little bit more about what True Sky has to offer, if you found a little bit of this intriguing. And again, if you already have to drop off, thank you for your time and have a great day. And I will now pause and open it up for questions.

Melissa: Great. Thank you, Alan. I do have a few questions here if you’ve got some time?

Alan: Yup.

Melissa: Okay. Well, first one is what is your licensing model?

Alan: Okay. So True Sky has a…we try to keep the licensing very, very simple. And it really comes down to number of users that you need. So you don’t have to worry about how big is your database size, how many different data sources are you integrating to, how many different data models? It really only comes down to user licenses. And you are one of three user types. You are either a reporting-only user, which is a user that can only run reports, okay? Or your next step up, you are a reporting user that can also be involved in the approval process. So this is the type of license that you might give to an executive who is going to say yes or no to budget numbers, but is not ever going to be actually doing data input themselves.

And then our most inclusive license is the full use license, which allows you to do data input, be part of the approval process, and run reports. So really, you just break your users down into what are those three kinds of buckets and then you decide who fits the best into that. And that’s really our user license. That is all you need to know. Hope that helps.

Melissa: Oh, okay, great. Yes. I have a second question here is, can you talk a bit more about the integration to ERP?

Alan: Yeah. So we have, out of the box integrations to a lot of the major ERPs out there. And if we don’t, we usually can get the data out because of our integration tools, right? So not only do we bring in… When you set up an integration into True Sky, it can be for master records. So that’d be things like your customers, your products, your employees, your GL accounts, your departments, whatever the case may be. And then, you know, we can configure those to update on a regular basis. So if you add a new customer, you add a new department, you add a new product, True Sky will pick it up automatically so you don’t have to maintain two different systems.

We can also bring in things like your actuals. So customer sales last year, whether it be by dollars or units, we can bring in product prices from the sources so you don’t have, again, maintain it. So you can actually see all of those in True Sky. So you can integrate both master records, as well as the actuals from different areas. And again, we work with you to figure out what makes the correct configuration for you guys in your particular situation.

Melissa: Okay. Awesome. Okay. One more question. Can True Sky be deployed in the cloud?

Alan: Yes. So there are a couple of different methods for deploying True Sky. So one, you can deploy it on-premise in your environment. And that could be, you know, whether you’ve got a server room in your organization, you know, where you host your own servers, or in a hosted environment, a hosting environment that you control. So that’s one option. And we kinda call that on-premise. True Sky also has a cloud offering called True Sky Online. So it can be deployed in the cloud. So you can do a cloud-based deployment of True Sky.

The nice thing is, either solution can integrate with your source data. And either solution has the exact same feature sets. So you don’t have to give up features or functionality because you want an on-premise solution or because you want a cloud solution. You get to choose which way to deploy based on whatever your IT mandate is, whether that be going for on-premise deployments or cloud-type deployment. So True Sky supports them both. And you don’t give up anything by going one versus the other. So absolutely, we have True Sky Online as an option for you for the cloud.

Melissa: Wonderful. And look, I think we stayed right on time too. So thanks for answering those. And thanks for presenting today, Alan.

Alan: Great. Well, thank you for having us. And again, I hope all of you liked what you saw, and this has intrigued you a little bit to learn a little bit more about True Sky.

Melissa: Absolutely. Okay, have a good afternoon, everyone.

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