Applications: accounting, financial forecasting
To accurately predict and keep track of business finances is arguably the most difficult task a company has to face. Unfortunately, the complexity of most number-crunching software packages can render them as unfathomable as the figures themselves.
The aim of the Winforecast Professional suite is to allow accountants to create and maintain accurate financial forecasts and reports more easily and quickly than using a fully-fledged spreadsheet program, such as Excel or Lotus 123.
Version 2.1 of the software suite comes in three parts: Winforecast Professional, which provides the tools to build individual financial forecasts; Winforecast Consolidator, which links individual forecasts together; and the Multi-year Printer which produces reports and graphs from linked forecasts covering a number of years.
Winforecast can be installed on a network server and accessed simultaneously by as many users as the licence allows. Licensing is controlled with a ?token? which comes as part of the software. To use the package, the token must be transferred to the PC?s local hard disk. Although it cannot be duplicated, the token is portable and can be moved from one PC to another.
Winforecast?s interface is functional but unattractive. The screen displays more grey areas than the Tory party leadership, though this amount of blank space has the advantage of making program navigation and data-entry relatively easy.
Indeed, Winforecast?s major strength is its simplicity. It comes with an excellent online tutorial to guide new users through the creation of their first forecast and report. You can pick up the basics quickly by following the hands-on lessons. All calculations are done automatically, and you can apply a choice of VAT rates.
There is limited scope for setting up the format and structure of reports to meet individual requirements. Default section headings such as Sales, Overheads and Fixed Assets are linked to a variety of record types which include Expenditure, Stocks, Wages, Liabilities and Calculated Loans. New headings can be inserted or renamed according to what a company wants.
Forecasts can be viewed and printed in various formats, based on either Profit and Loss, Cash Flow, Balance Sheet, Fund Flow, Ratios and Statistics or Assumptions and Parameters. Also, all reports can be compiled into basic line, tape and bar charts for clear presentation.
Verdict: Pase has slimmed down the spreadsheet program into a software package tailored specifically to practical accountancy. Although limited in its functionality, Winforecast is easy to use ? even for the beginner.
Contact: Pase on 01289 307000
Price: single licence is #399; server licence is #700 for one simultaneous user, and #500 for each subsequent simultaneous user
User report: Simon Armstrong, accounts manager at Pilgrim Plant Hire, uses Winforecast at more than a dozen sites. He uses the Consolidator to build up detailed individual profiles of Pilgrim?s business activities.
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