Advantages of using SAP Analytics Cloud for a Rolling forecast

What is a rolling forecast?

A rolling forecast is a way of reporting that uses historical data to predict future numbers. In contrast to a static budget that is established each year, a rolling forecast is used to revisit and update those budget assumptions throughout the year. This enables companies to react to external or internal changes. The image below shows how the rolling forecast would work if the forecast is performed on a monthly basis.

The purpose of this blog is to illustrate through 5 benefits that the planning module of SAP Analytics Cloud is ideal for implementing a rolling forecast.

Five benefits

Centralized and governed process

Using Excel files for forecasting purposes can result in multiple versions of the same file circulating. If many business units are involved in the process, this can lead to a lot of frustration and wasted time. With SAP Analytics Cloud, you are assured of a streamlined forecasting process with collaborative features. It ensures to have a single version of the truth at all times. In addition,  SAP Analytics Cloud offers different authorization capabilities so that business users only see the data they are supposed to see.

Simulations and what if-analysis

It is always very difficult to predict the future. These times of COVID show once again that you can expect anything. Having the ability to run simulations and what if-analyses is a great advantage to have at least some sort of visibility into possible future outcomes. This can be achieved with the version management capabilities of SAP Analytics Cloud. In addition to the public version (“single version of truth”), it is also possible to derive private versions in which you can play and develop different scenarios. This way, you can compare different versions and plans in order to obtain better insights for your business without affecting the original data.

Appealing Visualizations

An obvious but major benefit of using SAP Analytics Cloud is its visualization capabilities. SAP Analytics Cloud Planning provides a landscape where input sheets and appealing graphics go hand in hand. Changing numbers in the input sheets has an immediate effect on the surrounding visualizations. This way, the business user can immediately see the impact of his change on various KPIs in a quick and easy way. After all, we all know that visualizations are quicker to understand than a big table of numbers.

Data manipulation with data actions

Data actions are a very important and interesting feature within the planning module of SAP Analytics Cloud. A data action is a powerful tool that allows you, as the word says, to perform a series of actions on data. These can include something as simple as a copy and paste function but also scripting is possible to perform complex calculations. For example, you can create a data action that generates a baseline for your rolling forecast, based on calculations on historical data. This is interesting since the business user does not have to start the forecast from scratch.

Integration with back-end system

To have a good end to end rolling forecast process, it is important to have native integration with the back-end system. On the one hand, you need historical numbers loaded into SAP Analytics Cloud to create an accurate forecast. On the other hand, it is important that your final forecast can be used in other applications and data models. This process of importing and exporting transactional data in and out of SAP Analytics Cloud is very simple and straightforward. It can be done manually with just one click, but there are also scheduling options available. In addition, master data is also easily transferred into SAP Analytics Cloud, making it possible to also forecast on new materials, for example.

Hanne Vandermarliere

Analytics Consultant