Successful businesses regularly analyze their historical sales and market conditions in order to predict sales revenue and make informed decisions. A reliable sales forecast is also based on the estimates of the salespersons in the team.
The choice of one type of sales forecasting software over another is influenced by a variety of factors, ranging from the industry your business is in and the total cost of the system, to the application features and the quality of support. You can begin to evaluate the system before making a decision by asking yourself whether:
- its features really are good enough to justify the price range,
- the program provide frequent reminders for data entry and approaching deadlines, so that the information entered is consistent all the way
Other features worth your attention include the following:
The interface should be user-friendly and fast so that you can complete your sales forecasting quickly and reliably. The system should also provide easy access to troubleshooting applications, charting and graphing features, and online user forums.
For some companies such as Percypt, accurate forecasting is a top capability that your software must have. Often, it is better not to forecast at all than to get inaccurate results.
Reliable forecasting is able to make accurate predictions on both current and future data, with a focus on the latter. However, if you use the model fit algorithm, your forecasts are likely to be inaccurate. The solution is to use an application whose algorithms prevent overfitting and make accurate predictions.
The integration of various systems is also important, since it allows you to automatically export the data from your sales system to your ERP (enterprise resource planning) system. The ERP system manages key information regarding not only sales, but also planning and purchasing, inventory, marketing, and human resources.
Collaboration – allowing multiple users (all stakeholders or multiple users by department, for instance) access to the software ensures an accurate sales forecast. The users can thus exchange intra-software messages, compare multiple budget submissions, and even combine them automatically.
The implementation process should also be fast and run smoothly, despite the fact that it involves the coordination of many large parts, like the sales and ERP systems. Ideally, the forecasting solution you choose is a perfect match for your company overall, and your business goals in particular.
A less common, but truly useful feature is the forecasting of new products, regardless if they are brand new (and therefore lack history) or replacements meant to take the place of discontinued products. A good application is able to forecast your new products as well, by linking them to set seasonal coefficients or to similar products that have longer sales histories.
And finally, consider purchasing software that is flexible enough to allow manual adjustments to be carried out as needed. This will come in most handy when your final forecast needs to take into account factors other than the usual statistical forecasts and the assumptions of the planner; for instance, the information provided by vendors and suppliers.