Tools for an 18 Month Rolling Forecast: A Case for Host Analytics
Updated April 05, 2016

Tools for an 18 Month Rolling Forecast: A Case for Host Analytics

Anonymous | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Overall Satisfaction with Planful (formerly Host Analytics)

We are using Host Analytics to generate our 18 month rolling forecasts which we update each quarter. We also use Host to build our annual 12 month budget. The FP&A department is the main user of the product, solicting input from business partners in order to build up either the forecast or the budget. We make use of the Business Analytics module to do workforce planning in conjunction with the forecasting/budgeting process. Use of the system from Host Analytics has allowed us to standardize our forecasting and budgeting processes across the globe and removed the issues we had with an Excel based approach.
  • The product from Host Analytics has given us an easy tool to generate our periodic forecasts. Since it is based on Excel, our users came up to speed on it quickly and we've been able to shorten down our forecasting cycle time to 2- 3 weeks each quarter.
  • The Business Analytics module has been very useful to us in our workforce planning. We are able to load, plan and analyze our labor expense company wide. This has been vital since labor is a major component of our overall expenses and we have focused considerable attention on trying to ensure that it is right sized for our business.
  • Host Analytics provides great support to their products. They are always soliciting feedback from their users and frequently use this feedback to guide future product enhancements. We've always had quick response when we've had a question or an issue and always have had a positive resolution.
  • It would be nice if the data base updated automatically when changes are made to a template. At the moment, a separate button must be clicked to run an update.
  • Working in the cloud was definitely new to us and we were surprised at the slight transactional delay that seems to come with a cloud based solution. Fortunately, Host Analytics has been helpful in analyzing our usage and optimizing response time.
  • We would like to automate our monthly data download from SAP into Host so that we can expand our usage of the product during our monthly closing process. It would be great if Host had a pre-built connector that will link to SAP. Unfortunately that is not the case. Our understand is that most SAP installations have enough uniqueness that standardization is not possible.
  • We have been able to implement quick, regular forecasts. When building a forecast, time is of the essence. We want our forecasting efforts to take up at most only two weeks of time each quarter. Using Host has allowed us to achieve this goal.
  • Use of Host has shortened our budgeting process and increased the accuracy of the figures as we consolidate our global budget. Errors due to bad or varying assumptions, FX rates, broken spreadsheet links or bad data have been eliminated.
  • We've eliminated the down time that comes with implementing system upgrades to a non-cloud based solution. We have not had to shut down for days while upgrades were tested and approved. Enhancements show up automatically and we can take advantage of them immediately.
Host Analytics was more robust than Adaptive Planning. Since it is built around Excel, our users did not have to learn a new "language" as they would have with Prophix and it is more nimble and easier to support than SAP.
Host Analytics is a great product for either on-going forecasting efforts or budgeting, especially if the current system is based solely on Excel spreadsheets. Also a great choice when Finance wants to "own" the software since it is a quick implementation and easy to maintain within Finance going forward (as when IT is outsourced).

Planful Feature Ratings

Long-term financial planning
Not Rated
Financial budgeting
Scenario modeling
Management reporting
Financial data consolidation
Not Rated
Journal entries and reports
Not Rated
Multi-currency management
Intercompany Eliminations
Not Rated
Minority Ownership
Not Rated
Local and consolidated reporting
Not Rated
Detailed Audit Trails
Not Rated
Financial Statement Reporting
Not Rated
Management Reporting
Excel-based Reporting
Automated board and financial reporting
XBRL support for regulatory filing
Not Rated
Personalized dashboards
Not Rated
Color-coded scorecards
Not Rated
Cost and profitability analysis
Not Rated
Key Performance Indicator setting
Not Rated
Benchmarking with external data
Not Rated
Flat file integration
Excel data integration
Direct links to 3rd-party data sources
Not Rated

Planful Features and Attributes

We have always had a great response from Host when we have a question or an issue. New tickets are acknowledged very quickly and resolution often follows right behind. Host has coverage from both the US and India so a live person always seems to be monitoring any critical issues. We have also had periodic discussions with Host representatives on possible new uses for the product or enhancement. They are always willing to listen and we have had some of our ideas incorporated into future enhancements.
The software from Host Analytics is very easy to use. One of the reasons we chose this software is because it has the look and feel of Excel and we knew our users would come up to speed very quickly. The FP&A staff adapted quickly and we got the product up and running for our forecasting in very short order.
We had a Friday a few years ago when our system response time slowed way down, making the software unusable. We entered a ticket with Host and marked it critical since we were working on a forecast. The issue was escalated by Host to the executive level and Host personnel worked the weekend to figure out the problem and implement a fix. On Monday morning when we came in, our system work response time was even better than before. We were thrilled.

Using Planful (formerly Host Analytics)

The product is used within Financial Planning & Analysis. When we develop a forecast or a budget, the FP&A staff reaches out to the business for inputs and then loads the figures into the system from Host Analytics. We also have 5 "View Only" licenses but these have not been pushed out to the business just yet.
We support our use of Host Analytics with existing FP&A staff. We had a team of three people implement the software and now have two who act as subject matter experts, all within Finance. This was very important to us since all of our IT is outsourced to and outside vendor.
  • We needed a tool to take our quarterly 18 month rolling forecasts to the next level.
  • We also needed a tool to streamline our global budget process and make it more manageable.
  • As it turns out, Host Analytics has provided a great tool to do the bulk of our monthly management reporting.
  • We have used this tool to improve our headcount reporting and workforce planning.
  • We have also used this tool to expand our internal reporting
  • Implementing this tool forced us to organize and standardize our treatment of accounts, account groupings and cost centers across our global operation.
  • We hope to automate data loads into Host. Loading data quickly and on demand will allow us to use Host for analytics while we close each month.
  • We hope to use Host Analytics to expand our headcount reporting, both for actuals and forecast.
  • We may ultimately decide to use the Consolidation module from Host
We have been very happy with the product itself but also with the support that comes with it. The people at Host Analytics have been very responsive to our needs and requests and continue to upgrade and enhance the system.

Planful (formerly Host Analytics) Implementation

Be sure to lay out all your requirements in internal meetings first. Get down to the detail level and figure out what your company wants from the system. Once you have done that, get together with Host Analytics and work up the implementation plan and the cost. Most implementations stumble because no one fully though out the requirements up front.
Change management was a minor issue with the implementation - One of the attractions for Host Analytics is that it has the look and feel of Excel. This greatly facilitated the roll out to users.
  • Our implementation team of three worked with Host Analytics to configure the software. The biggest issue we had was that the three of us had to maintain our regular duties while also handling the implementation. It slowed us down a bit but Host kept us on track.

Planful (formerly Host Analytics) Support

Quick Resolution
Good followup
Knowledgeable team
Problems get solved
Kept well informed
No escalation required
Immediate help available
Support understands my problem
Support cares about my success
Quick Initial Response
Yes - We pay for 24/7 support. We do this, and recommend others to it, because Finance is a critical area within the company. If we are in the middle of a close, we cannot have a system down. The cost was not great but the peace of mind is tremendous. Well worth the expense.
Yes - Yes. They seem to take reports of bugs very seriously and respond very quickly with a high level of support. If memory serves me correctly, I think the majority of bug issues were resolved overnight with the remaining ones being fixed in just a few days. We always get followup explaining the fix and indicating when the fix will move to production.

Using Planful (formerly Host Analytics)

Like to use
Relatively simple
Easy to use
Technical support not required
Well integrated
Quick to learn
Feel confident using
  • Very easy to come up to speed when loading revenue or expense data into either forecasting or budget templates. Everything has the look and feel of Excel.
  • Easy to generate new templates.
  • Loading data, including headcount data is very straightforward and easy.
  • Creating specialty reports based on attributes in Business Analytics and be a little tricky until one learns the system.
  • Processing a large number of changes in headcount can be tedious unless the data is reloaded.
  • Setting up row and column sets for reports takes some advanced knowledge and training.