Many Outreach customers need the ability to define multiple forecasts for different dimensions of their business. The purpose of this article is to provide Outreach admins with information about how to build parallel forecasts in Outreach.
- Outreach admins
Who can create and edit forecasts?
Forecast configuration resides in the Outreach Admin experience. Any customer with an “admin” profile will be able to create, configure, and publish forecasts.
- Navigate to the Administration settings and locate Tools.
- Within the Forecasting page, click the Create forecast button.
At a high level, creating a new forecast involves 5 steps.
- Define a forecast Name. This is the label users will see when forecasting in Outreach.
- Select the forecast Period. This defines the period of time this forecast looks at to determine which opportunities to aggregate.
- Select the ownership field on the opportunity that should be referenced for this particular forecast. For sales forecasts, this is typically just the Opportunity owner. However, you may have a Renewals forecast where the Account Manager responsible for the deal isn't the owner but is listed on the Opportunity - in this case, you may choose the "Account Manager" field as the Owner.
- Add and define the desired Metrics for the forecast. These are the metrics used to store forecast calls, and the logic used to aggregate opportunities in various ways. The creation of forecast metrics is covered below in more detail.
- Choose which levels within your user rollup should have visibility to this forecast. Note: only users who are granted visibility to a forecast can contribute to said forecast. This means that any opportunities owned by users that do not have visibility to a particular forecast would not be accounted for in that forecast. Visibility of the created forecasts can be segmented by teams in the user rollup and role type (manager vs. rep).
Configuration of Forecast Metrics
- An Admin can navigate to Administration > Forecasting > Forecasts > Edit Forecast.
- Click Add Metric in the Metrics in forecast section.
- Hover the cursor over the new forecast metric and click Edit.
General Metric Settings
- Type the forecast metric Name (e.g., Best Case)
- Select the Opportunity field that should be rolled up for this particular metric. Generally, this is the standard opportunity amount field. However, other examples include seat count, services amount, renewal amount, or total contract value. Any numerical field mapped through the Opportunity object is supported here.
- Select the date field to reference when determining which opportunities fall within the defined sales period. For example, if you are running a renewals forecast, then this may be a Renewal Close Date instead of the standard Close Date field.
- Select Yes or No for whether a forecast can be overridden with a manual forecast call. Selecting “Yes” indicates users can submit a forecast against this metric. Whereas selecting “No” indicates the forecast metric will not allow manual submission and is read only for opportunity aggregation reporting.
- Optionally, you can elect to automatically calculate the pipeline value of a metric when forecast entry is set to yes. The automatic calculation of pipeline value is used for customers that want to allow their reps / sales leaders to manually submit their own manual forecast call on a metric, but still want the forecast view to display the most up-to-date values as defined by the deals in their pipeline. For example, customers may want their sales reps to be able to submit their own forecast call on top of the rollup of opportunities with the Forecast Category of Commit.
To define the logic behind which opportunities should be contributing to an individual metric, you will need to establish the appropriate filters.
- Select Add filter to configure the logic that will apply to this forecast metric.
- Select an Opportunity field, then select an operator, then select or enter a value or values. The available operators will change based on the field selected (currency, date, picklist, etc.). When multiple values within a picklist are required (e.g., Commit, Best Case, and Pipeline), it is recommended to use the “in” operator as this will allow for a multi-select option.
- Repeat until your desired logic has been created for this forecast metric.
If you have certain metrics that are calculated by applying formulas to other metrics, you can use the formulas section to build out the appropriate logic. (I.e. if you have a “likely forecast” value that you typically calculate Won + 80% of Committed + 50% of Best Case)
- Select the forecast metrics that will be used within your formula & Outreach will assign them variables (i.e., A, B, C, etc.)
Note: the referenced metrics need to have already been defined within this forecast configuration
- Enter a formula
- The sum of 3 metrics: (a + b + c)
- A certain percentage of various metrics: (a)+(b*0.8)+(c*0.5)
- Pipeline coverage for a given quota: (a+b+c)d
Display Metric Settings
- Select whether this forecast metric is visible to managers, reps, or both as defined by your user rollup
- Select whether this forecast metric will display in the cards at the top of your forecast, the table below, or both
- Select the desired format to display with this metric (Note: if you did not choose a currency field as the amount value that is rolling up for this forecast metric you will want to switch the format to Numeric or Percentage as appropriate)
Assigning Forecast Visibility
Once you have defined each of the desired metrics for this forecast, you will want to navigate towards the bottom of the Forecast page and establish which team(s) within your user rollup should have access to this forecast. The topmost team in your user rollup will have visibility to all forecasts. However, not necessarily all branches of the user rollup need access to all forecasts.
- Selecting the top level of the hierarchy means that the forecast will be visible to all teams in the user rollup.
- Selecting a specific level within the hierarchy means that the teams at that level and below that branch of the hierarchy will have access to the forecast. Levels directly above will also inherit visibility to the forecast.
Note: only users who are granted visibility to a forecast can contribute to said forecast. This means that any opportunities owned by users that do not have visibility to a particular forecast would not be accounted for in that forecast.
Select the lowest level(s) of the user rollup where this forecast should be visible. Once selected, that level will be marked with a purple check mark. The gray check marks indicate teams nested beneath that level that will utilize the forecast, while purple dashes indicate teams above who will also have access to the forecast. In the example below, the branch of the user rollup at and below VP, West will not be able to see this forecast.
Let’s explore this a bit further in the example team hierarchy shown below. To create a forecast that’s visible only to Customer Success Managers (CSMs), but not Account Executives (AEs), the admin user would select each team of CSMs in the user rollup. This will exclude opportunities owned by AEs from the forecast. CSMs will see this forecast, as will each team above them in the user rollup (NAM, VP, West, and VP, East).
Preview a forecast
Before publishing a forecast, you can click Preview on the Forecasts Admin page. This will enable you to visualize and verify your forecast experience before publishing it to your end users.
Publishing a Forecast
Once your forecast has been fully configured to support your sales forecasting process, it is necessary to Publish the forecast. This takes the forecast from a draft state to a published state, making it available for your reps and managers in the Outreach forecasting experiences.
Each time you revise the settings of an active forecast, you must click “Publish” in order for those changes to propagate to the forecasting experiences.
The forecast admin experience allows admins to create forecasts based on filters applied to any mapped opportunity object field. While certainly not an exhaustive list, here are some examples:
- Forecasts are created based on an opportunity’s record type (e.g., new logo, expansion, and renewal)
- Forecasts are created based on sales period (monthly vs. quarterly)
- Forecasts are created based on go-to-market segments (Enterprise, Corporate, Commercial, etc.)
Here is a demonstration of a simple New Logo and Expansion forecast that includes 5 forecast metrics: Forecast call, Won, Commit, Best Case, and Pipeline. This forecast will use the default owner, date, and amount fields. Note this is an example of what a forecast could look like; actual fields will depend on your CRM configuration and the fields mapped to Outreach.
This metric is used to submit a number at each level of the forecast rollup representing that rep’s or team’s best estimate for the amount of closed won opportunities for the selected time period.
- Name: Forecast Call
- Forecast Entry: Yes
- Filters: None
This forecast metric will show an aggregation of the opportunities currently won for the selected time period.
- Name: Won
- Forecast entry: No
- Filters: Is Closed equals True, Is Won equals true, Type equals New Logo and Expansion
This forecast metric will show aggregation of the opportunities currently in the Commit Forecast Category for the select time period.
- Name: Commit
- Forecast entry: No
- Filters: Forecast Category equals Commit, Type equals New Logo and Expansion
This forecast metric will show aggregation of the opportunities currently in the Best Case Forecast Category for the select time period.
- Name: Best Case
- Forecast entry: No
- Filters: Forecast Category equals Best Case, Type equals New Logo and Expansion
This forecast metric will show aggregation of the opportunities currently in the Pipeline Forecast Category for the select time period.
- Name: Pipeline
- Forecast entry: No
- Filters: Forecast Category equals Pipeline, Type equals New Logo and Expansion
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I add more fields for building forecast metrics?
Any opportunity field that has been mapped in the plugin should show as an available filter option. If you do not see a field you are looking for, you will need to verify that it has been mapped into Outreach. For example, some organizations accomplish this by leveraging a secondary field (e.g., Manager Forecast) where managers can provide their own risk judgment.
Is Quota supported as a forecast metric?
Yes, but creating this type of forecast metric currently requires a request to Outreach support (see process here). Utilization of the goal (e.g., quota) as a forecast metric is particularly useful for organizations who wish to display coverage within the forecast grid view.
Is the forecast duration configurable?
Yes, on the main page within a forecast configuration, users can select a monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, or annual forecast duration.
Can I submit a forecast on behalf of another user?
Managers have elevated permissions that allow them to submit forecasts on behalf of themselves or teams or reps nested beneath theirs in the user rollup.
Can I duplicate a forecast?
From the forecast list view, users can duplicate an entire forecast configuration. This is helpful if you plan to make a few forecasts with similar metrics and prefer to change a few metric settings instead of creating a forecast from scratch.