The Silicon Review
“Our solutions generate actionable analytics to help drive decisions with increased performance and service delivery.”
Data analytics are transforming the ways that local government leaders are synchronizing their financial resources and strategic decisions. As the public sector begins to adopt new data technologies, Forecast5 Analytics, Inc. (Forecast5) is developing cutting edge tools and defining the best practices in organizational performance benchmarking and long term financial planning.
In the late 1990’s, Mike English, CEO of Forecast5 had an opportunity to serve his local school district as part of a citizen’s finance committee. The school district was experiencing tremendous enrollment growth and needed help formalizing a complex five-year financial plan, as well as, a community engagement strategy. The experience resulted in a realization for English that all of his firm’s clients would benefit from the creation of a model that allowed them to generate detailed financial plans with easy-to-understand output. A cornerstone of the concept would be multi-variate scenario analysis, so that public sector CFOs could use the platform for decision support purposes.
Over the next decade, hundreds of local governments used the platform for long term planning and stakeholder engagement. After the financial market meltdown in 2008, local governments had an increased need for data analysis and interactive forecasting tools. This situation opened the opportunity to create Forecast5 in 2012 as a dedicated software development company and spin-off of his financial services company.
Schools, cities, and counties benefit from a unique analytics eco-system designed to accelerate insight and support decisions. The company combines powerful financial applications with collaborative features that create efficiency and scale for local government leaders.
Coming to market
The initial software named 5Sight™ was designed by Forecast5 as a business intelligence platform for schools. The application organizes public data into interactive analytics around various aspects of school operations. Administrators use the platform for performance benchmarking and to identify opportunities for efficiency and financial savings. As more data is introduced to the system, Forecast5 partners with its clients in a co-development process to create new analytics that answer their specific business questions.
Make the grade
Every time the 5Sight platform is introduced in a new state, the responses are similar from the administrators. Schools have continued submitting data to state regulators for years without ever being able to access the statewide information in a convenient or insightful format. On many occasions, school leaders tell Forecast5, “Last week, it took me two days to do what you just did in 5 seconds!” Beyond providing efficiency, clients are sharing their success stories in the area of financial management and resource allocation.
Forecast5 continues to expand and evolve with a focus on supporting government decision-making processes. English remarks, “In our team meetings, we are always asking the question, ‘what are the big issues facing our clients’. Our goal is to keep our focus on the things that are most important to our clients. Local governments are under significant pressure to ‘do more with less’ and Forecast5 can deliver a data-driven process that extends and sustains the services a government is providing to its constituents.”
Challenges as a start-up
With so many opportunities to pursue, Forecast5 employed a disciplined process to its growth. English says, “As a start-up, you have to balance fast growth within your limited resources. It is difficult to establish a national brand when you are boot-strapping, so you work really hard and have to figure out how to maximize all of your resources.”
Factors for growth and success
The company has beaten the odds facing most start-ups and has now scaled the company on a national basis within the K-12 and local government markets. When asked to list five factors that have been instrumental to the company’s success, English responded:
Meet the CEO: Mike English, Founder and CEO
Mike English is a founder and the CEO/President of Forecast5 Analytics, Inc. He has spent his entire career concentrating on the development of financial and strategic solutions for schools and municipalities. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Economics at the University of Iowa and a Masters in Finance at the Illinois Institute of Technology with an emphasis in Financial Markets and Trading. Prior to the creation of Forecast5, Mike was the CEO of his family’s businesses, the PMA Companies, a conglomeration of financial companies serving the investment and debt management needs of local governments. In 2012, a strategic decision was made to create a spin-off PMA’s forecasting platform and make a major investment in software development.