—Walter Payton, Chicago Bears Running Back
Growing up in the 1970/80s, Mike English’s boyhood sports hero was Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton of the Chicago Bears. Decades have passed since Payton’s illustrious football career, but the thought of Payton’s determination and tenacity still gives English, the president and CEO of Forecast5™ Analytics, goosebumps. “At Forecast5, we believe there is not a problem that can’t be solved if we adopt that ‘never die easy’ attitude for the benefit of our clients. In terms of solving the most pressing issues in the public sector, we are running with the same type of tenacity that Payton had when he was setting records on the football field,” he states. “It’s all about listening to the clients’ challenges and then being determined to solve them with new software ideas. This collaborative, co-development model has helped us develop unique decision-support applications used by more than 1,500 public sector entities across the country.”
"It’s all about listening to the clients’ challenges and then being determined to solve them with new software ideas"
Headquartered in Naperville, Illinois, Forecast5 Analytics is a software company that assists government entities with their financial, operational, and strategic decision making. By combining advanced software expertise with domain-specific experience, Forecast5 delivers a data analytics product suite comprised of 5Cast™, 5Lab™, 5Sight™, 5Maps™, and 5Share™. “Our suite of tools enables public sector organizations to build annual or multi-year budgets, model scenarios and future impacts, find new revenue sources, enhance student outcomes, and much more,” says English. “We develop state-of-the-art technology for data discovery and decision support. Our staff of experts takes high-level ownership of public sector challenges with a sense of urgency to create great outcomes for our clients and the communities they support.”
Casting Away the Data Problem
Forecast5’s 5Cast is a budget planning software designed to accelerate the financial planning process and help local governments build and maintain accurate financial projections.
Our collaborative staff of experts takes high-level ownership of public sector challenges with a sense of urgency to create great outcomes for our clients and the communities they support
5Cast was recently upgraded with a new addition—5Cast™ Plus. “Many of our clients continue to perform five-year budget planning in 5Cast, but they asked us to enhance the product with a feature that would go inside the current budget year and connect to their financial accounting software on a real-time or upload basis, so they can get budget updates throughout the fiscal year,” informs English. 5Cast Plus allows clients to upload detailed expenses and revenues for processing, analysis, and reporting on a monthly and quarterly basis. This allows them to project and analyze current year financial data based on monthly historical trends.
One major factor that differentiates 5Cast Plus is that it enables organizations to better manage their current year’s budget by accessing data directly from their financial system and providing an in-depth picture of what is happening every month. “Previously, our software could only offer a five-year forecast,” explains English. “But now, using 5Cast Plus, local governments can easily evaluate their budget performance monthly, compare them to the previous month or year, and project the budget to the end of the fiscal year—all in a matter of minutes.”
In addition, 5Cast Plus allows for quick disaggregation of general ledger data to create an automated Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) report for K-12 school districts that meet the federal requirement and can be customized by state. This allows users to produce the required outputs in a time-efficient manner.
A Game Changer for Schools
The newest addition to the Forecast5 decision support system is 5Lab. This new tool connects administrators’ different internal datasets and empowers them to generate compelling analyses, reports, and customized dashboards. “It creates incredible efficiency for organizations in the education sector, which lose a tremendous amount of time when manually extracting data from the disparate databases and data warehouses and populating complex spreadsheets,” mentions English.
As ESSA asks school leaders to be more data-centric and utilize information to guide resources, 5Lab makes it simple to connect data, create customizable dashboards and develop action plans for improving student achievement outcomes. The valuable information can be presented in easy-to-understand visual dashboards, which can be used to build presentations to all levels of administration and leadership. “Using these dashboards, schools can analyze and track each student’s progress, identify factors for improvement, and quickly apply academic interventions to support student success while ensuring that they stay on the right path that would prepare them to be career- and college-ready,” affirms English.
As a result of their accelerating growth and expansion, Forecast5 recently announced a growth equity partnership with Riverwood Capital. The company aims to use the investment to continue providing innovative solutions and a high level of service to its current clients and to meet the growing demand for its state-of-the-art analytics technology in more school districts, municipalities, and higher education institutions across the country. “Our mission at Riverwood Capital is to provide capital and expertise to accelerate the growth of high-quality technology companies,” mentions Jeff Parks, founder, and General Partner at Riverwood Capital. “We are very impressed with the platform that Mike English and his team have built and are delighted to be their partner in the next phase of the company’s growth. With this investment of over $60 million, we are demonstrating our commitment to the local government and education markets, and our conviction in Forecast5’s growth potential.”
While the investment will provide Forecast5 with resources to continue its impressive growth in public K-12 education, the partnership also allows the company to accelerate its growth strategy in municipal government and higher education. English comments, “We are excited about what we can still achieve in the public sector but look forward to what we can also build in other markets.”
English understands that there is a significant and addressable market for data analytics solutions, and Forecast5 will continue to press forward with a “never die easy” attitude.“There are many clients that we want to work with and many problems that we want to solve. With a current client base spread across 27 different states in the U.S., we are going to continue to run hard and focus on innovation and market expansion,” states English.