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Financial Projection Software:
FAQs for Newcomers

Page Contents

  1. Selecting the Right Version

  2. Loading & Running Problems

  3. Registering Exl-Plan

For more Frequently Asked Questions, see FAQs for Users and FAQs for Using Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016 (relevant to newcomers and established users).

Tip: Use your browser's search or find facility to locate key words on this page.


Notes:

  1. Exl-Plan contains extensive online help (130+ topics) along with a with a 90-page manual (Word or PDF format) and a series of Flash-based tutorials (running for 19 minutes) covering setting up Excel, getting started, the basics and using Quik-Plan. Manuals and tutorials are included in the download files for all versions of Exl-Plan.
  2. This FAQ is mainly for the Micro, Lite, Pro, Super, Super Plus, Ultra and Ultra Plus versions and the answers may not be fully applicable to the Exl-Plan Basic or Free versions.

1. Selecting the Right Version

Q. Is Exl-Plan available to run on a Mac?
Sorry, no. It is for Windows only.

Q. What Windows-based releases of Excel can be used with Exl-Plan?
All versions/editions of Exl-Plan are fully compatible with all Windows-based releases of Excel including Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016 (see FAQs for Using Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016 if you are new to this release).

Important Note: Exl-Plan requires a Windows-based, desktop version of Excel. It will not run, on account of its extensive use of macros, with any cloud-based versions of Excel (or other similar spreadsheet types). If using Office 365 or Office 16, Excel must be installed on a Windows PC.

Q. How do I select the right version of Exl-Plan?
Refer to a selection chart here and the range of assumptions handled by Exl-Plan here. Take account of the likely size (turnover) and complexity of the business. Also, consider your level of expertise in finance and accounting. Our best advice is to go for the simplest version which will do the job for you. For example, if you are planning a business with annual sales of $250k, you certainly will not need the Super version and the Basic or Micro versions will most probably more than suffice. The beauty of Exl-Plan is that you can download trial or free software so you can check out more than one version or edition.

 
 
Fast Facts

Name: Exl-Plan (nine versions and US/Can & UK/International editions).

Function: Excel template for multi-year income, cashflow & balance sheet projections with Word template for business plan.

Uses: Business plans, budgets, raising finance & strategic planning.

For: Managers, consultants, entrepreneurs & startups.

Benefits: Saves time & effort. Easy-to-use. Expandable. Provides know-how & improves planning.

System: Windows 95/98/ Me/NT/2000/XP/Vista/
Win7,8,10 with Excel 5,7,8,95,97,2000,XP,2003,
2007,2010,2013,2016.

Prices (US$): Free, 29, 49, 89, 129, 169, 209, 249 or 289.

See Also: Cashflow Plan for rolling 12-month projections.

 
     
   
Quick Guide to Exl-Plan Versions

Exl-Plan awarded 5-Stars by ZDNet

Q. What are the advantages of Exl-Plan over building my own financial planner?
In a nutshell, you get a well-tested, better-built planner with more features and facilities in a fraction of the time and cost that it would take a very experienced spreadsheet user with financial background to develop a planner from the ground up. For more reasons as to why Exl-Plan is better and faster, check here.

Q. Can I trade up to a more powerful version of Exl-Plan?
Yes. Registered users of Exl-Plan can trade up to more powerful versions of Exl-Plan at a reduced cost based on the following formula: US$20 plus difference in price between existing and proposed version. VAT and other sales taxes may apply. Get full details.

Q. Can I use, or try, more than one copy on my PC at the same time?
No problem. Each version & edition of Exl-Plan goes into its own sub-directory and creates its own Program Group or menu. They all have separate online help. This means that you can evaluate more than one version and professional advisers etc. can operate multiple versions.

Click to display full sizeQ. Are there any industry types for which Exl-Plan would NOT be suitable?
Exl-Plan is not suitable for financial planning for banks, insurance companies and similar financial institutions. Nor is it suitable (without modification) for one-off major projects (e.g. shipbuilding); contractors with complex or lengthy payment schedules (e.g. substantial construction projects); natural resource businesses where products mature in value with age (e.g. forestry); or industries subject to exceptional taxes or levies on sales (e.g. fuel distribution or certain alcoholic drinks). Leaving aside these industries, Exl-Plan should suit any business operating within manufacturing, services or distribution. Click thumb opposite to see portion of a typical assumptions report.

Q. Can I use Exl-Plan for a software-type or Internet-related business?
Any version of Exl-Plan will suit. The key trick is to completely ignore Monthly Assumption Reports No. 2 & 3 relating to material and direct costs as most software firms don't have substantial inventories or any significant cost of sales. The exact approach to use is explained in the online help or manual.

Click to display full sizeQ. What are the essential differences between Super, Super Plus, Ultra & Ultra Plus?
Super Plus and Ultra Plus both handle ten revenue/cost streams instead of six for Super and Ultra. Click thumb opposite to see multiple sales groups within a monthly assumptions report.
Ultra and Ultra Plus project monthly for three years whereas Super and Super Plus project monthly for just one year and quarterly for the next two years. All four versions generate less detailed projections for further years. Check here for a more detailed description of the differences.

Q. We are an accountancy/consultancy practice and wish to use Exl-Plan for clients. Which version?
Go for the Super, Super Plus, Ultra or Ultra Plus versions as these are the most flexible and powerful. Bear in mind that you can ask Exl-Plan to suppress the printing of unused rows in its output reports so resultant printed reports are neat and concise. You might also wish to acquire Basic or Micro for very small, simple businesses.

Q. We need to be able to handle at least six revenue/cost streams. Which version?
Super and Ultra each handle six revenue/cost streams and Super Plus and Ultra Plus each handle ten streams. The following variables can be specified for each revenue/cost stream:

Sales (by value or by units+prices) Receivable & payable terms (up to six months credit)
Material costs and purchases for resale Finished goods and material stock inventories
Direct labour (headcount and payroll cost/person) Tax rates for inputs and outputs (i.e. VAT, GST etc.)

Q. We are a very substantial manufacturer with seasonal sales and variable inventories. Which version?
Choose Super, Super Plus, Ultra or Ultra Plus depending on the level of detail or time horizon required.
Super Plus and Ultra Plus each handle ten revenue/cost streams instead of six for Super and Ultra.
Super and Super Plus project monthly for one year and quarterly for the following two years whereas Ultra and Ultra Plus project monthly for three years and quarterly for the following two years. All four versions also offer, optional, projections for fourth/fifth years (Super & Super Plus) and for sixth/seventh years (Ultra & Ultra Plus).

Q. I'm new to business and financial planning and need to do very basic projections. Which version?
Go for Exl-Plan Free. It's free and very straightforward to use. Alternatively, get Exl-Plan Basic or Micro. You can always trade up to a more powerful version at a discounted price at a later date - full details.

Q. We need to do a lot of sensitivity analysis and scenario planning. Which version?
Super, Super Plus, Ultra and Ultra Plus have several special facilities which can assist these tasks including:

  • Sensitivity-analysis tool for globally changing selling prices, volumes, direct costs and overheads for months and quarters.
  • Automatically generated 'what-if' tables which display the impact of incremental changes in sales volumes, selling prices, cost of sales and overhead expenses on projected profitability for the first year.
  • DuPont-type profitability chart based on the first-year projections which also allows a user to explore the impact of specific changes in key variables and assumptions on overall profitability.
  • Tables to analyze longer term trends (five years historical plus five-years projected) for key ratios and performance measures.
    Click to display full size Click to display full size Click to display full size
    Automatically generated "what-if" table (Super, Super Plus, Ultra & Ultra Plus versions) Profitability Planner to explore high-level "what-ifs" (Super, Super Plus, Ultra & Ultra Plus versions) Basic sensitivity analysis tool (Built into all versions of Exl-Plan other than Free and Basic)

See earlier question about the essential differences between Super, Super Plus, Ultra and Ultra Plus.

Q. When should I use the Free version of Exl-Plan?
Exl-Plan Free is ideal for high-level projections for cashflow and profit planning. It is also an ideal introduction to financial planning and to the entire Exl-Plan range. Exl-Plan Free is free to try and use.

Q. What is the catch with Exl-Plan Free?
There is no catch! Once downloaded, Exl-Plan Free is fully operational but contains a use limit which disappears as soon as it is registered at no charge ($ 0.0). To register, send an email containing the unique Registration Code Number* in the body of an email to <exlfree@planware.org> and we'll send back a special Unlock Code Number. You can also register via a form here. That's it - no strings attached and no spam or spyware (see Privacy & Security Statement). Exl-Plan Free contains extensive online help as well as complete 100-page manual in PDF format.
         *Displayed at the upper right corner of the FRONT worksheet within Exl-Plan.

Free-Plan: Click to display full sizeQ. Can I use Exl-Plan to help prepare a business plan?
The Basic, Micro, Lite, Pro, Super, Super Plus, Ultra and Ultra Plus versions are all ideal. They make the number crunching much easier and allow you to focus on the contents of the plan and ideas for the development of the business. The 12-page Textual Summary Report automatically created by Exl-Plan is, in effect, the financial section of a business plan.

Exl-Plan also includes a Business Plan Template for Word (48 pages - click thumb opposite to enlarge view) and a complementary Guide (supplied as a 90+ topic Help file and as a 100+ page PDF file for printing). For guidance on other issues to be covered in a business plan, refer to the white papers entitled Writing a Business Plan and Developing a Strategic Business Plan.

Q. What are the essential differences between US/Canadian and UK/International Editions?
The main differences between the two editions relate to spellings (labor vs. labour etc.); terminology (stocks vs. inventory etc.); structure of accounts (e.g. layouts of balance sheets differ*); ratio definitions; accommodation of taxes on sales, valued added (VAT) and goods & services (GST); and printer page sizes (European A4 vs. US Letter). Exl-Plan is being used in over a hundred countries with the USA, Canada, UK, Australia and South Africa predominating.

** In the US/C format, balance sheets show assets and liabilities in two separate columns whereas balance sheets in the UK/I format are structured as:
Net Fixed Assets + Net Current Assets - Long-term Liabilities = Shareholders' Funds.

Click to display full sizeQ. Can I changes the currency symbol and denomination supplied with Exl-Plan?
No problem. You specify the desired currency (£, $ etc.) and denomination (units, thousands, millions or billions) when setting up Exl-Plan via the menu option for *Tools/Setup | Basic Model Info .... Click thumb opposite to see Basic Model Information dialog.

Q. Can Exl-Plan handle different taxation regimes?
Yes. Exl-Plan can handle corporation tax, payroll taxes & charges as well as VAT, GST and other sales/input taxes. For corporation taxes, you specify the effective tax rates after taking account of any losses forward, capital allowances and other adjustments. Payroll taxes and social insurance type charges are expressed as a percentage of payroll costs. In the case of VAT, GST etc., Exl-Plan accommodates several different tax rates for sales and inputs and lets the user specify the payment/refund frequency. If using the UK/International edition of Exl-Plan and you need to change the default description of the tax from VAT to, say, GST, the procedure is to (a) unprotect all worksheets via *Protection | Unprotect All Worksheets and then (b) search/replace VAT by GST in all worksheets. If using the US/Canadian edition, the description can be directly changed from within the M_T worksheet.

Q. Can Exl-Plan handle mixed currencies?
Yes - up to a point. When setting up Exl-Plan, you specify the base currencies to be used in all assumption and output reports. However, because Exl-Plan is operating within an Excel spreadsheet, there is unlimited scope to use multiple currencies and to convert data to the base currency for incorporation into Exl-Plan's reports.

Q. Can I use Exl-Plan to help generate consolidated projections for several subsidiaries?
Yes. The best approach is to use Exl-Plan to create seperate projections for each subsidiary and then to build a new Excel workbook and populate it with relevant data taken from the Exl-Plan files. The procedure, which does not require any exceptional Excel expertise, is described in the reply to the question "How can I consolidate Exl-Plan projections for several subsidiary companies?" in the Frequently Asked Questions for Users.

Q. Need more help to select the most appropriate version of Exl-Plan?
Use this Contact Form to send us an outline of your needs or utilize our Online Business Plan Advice Service. You can also download a 90-page, Word-based version of the complete Exl-Plan Manual to suit all versions/editions (MANUALEXL.ZIP - 160k). Alternatively: View/download it as an Acrobat file (PDFMANUALEXL.PDF - 490k) or view it as a web page.

Note that Exl-Plan Basic is supplied with its own 100-page manual (PDFMANUAL_EXL-PLAN_BASIC.PDF - 871k) which can also be viewed online as web pages.

Q. Where can I find a cashflow planner with roll-forward facility?
Have a look at Cashflow Plan, our range of fully-integrated cashflow planners which generate projections for 12 months ahead and incorporate a roll-forward facility to simplify regular updating of projections. Details and trial-version downloads. The following table shows the equivalent versions of Cashflow Plan and Exl-Plan:

Cashflow Plan
Version *
Exl-Plan Version Exl-Plan's Time Horizon
Micro Micro One revenue/cost group - first year on monthly basis plus 2 years on quarterly basis (3 years)
Lite Lite Two revenue/cost groups - first year on monthly basis plus 2 years on quarterly basis
Plus Pro Four revenue/cost groups - first year on monthly basis, 2 years on quarterly basis plus 2 years on annual basis
Super Super Six revenue/cost groups - first year on monthly basis, 2 years on quarterly basis plus 2 years on annual basis
Super Super Plus Ten revenue/cost groups - first year on monthly basis, 2 years on quarterly basis plus 2 years on annual basis
Ultra Ultra Six revenue/cost groups - first three years on monthly basis, 2 years on quarterly basis plus optional 2 years on annual basis
Ultra Ultra Plus Ten revenue/cost groups - first three years on monthly basis, 2 years on quarterly basis plus optional 2 years on annual basis
* All version cover 12 months ahead with weekly breakdown for initial three months.


See also the FAQ for Users for guidance on using, changing and extending Exl-Plan. This also deals with many issues of interest to prospective users.



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2. Loading & Running Problems

IMPORTANT:
If you experience loading and running problems when using Excel 5, 7, 8, 95, 97, 2000, XP or 2003, refer to the FAQs below. if using Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, you should go to FAQs for Using Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016.

Q. Where can I get quick instructions to load and run Exl-Plan?
This Quick Start Guide will lead you through installing, running and exploring Exl-Plan.

For additional guidance, you can watch several How to ... Tutorials covering the basics of setting up and using Exl-Plan.

Click to display full sizeQ. I use Excel 2000, XP or 2003. When I load Exl-Plan, Excel displays a message about enabling macros. What should I do ?
If Excel displays a message about enabling macros while Exl-Plan is loading, you must select Enable Macros (click thumb opposite for guidance). This is quite safe provided you secured Exl-Plan from our site or another reliable and trustworthy site. These macros are essential to enable Exl-Plan to work. See the tutorial Set Up Excel (2 min.) for more guidance.

Q. I use Excel 2000, XP or 2003. When I try to load Exl-Plan, it displays an "Important Notice" and a message indicates that Exl-Plan has not been properly loaded?
This message appears if Cashflow Plan's macros fail to operate. To resolve this problem, yClick to display full sizeYou need to reduce the security level set within Excel from High to Medium via Tools | Macro | Security | Security Level (click thumbs opposite and below for guidance). You should then close Excel, reload Excel and then reload Exl-Plan. You will then be asked whether you want to enable macros whenever you try to load a workbook file (like Exl-Plan) that contains macros. This is quite safe provided you secured Exl-Plan from our site or another reliable and trustworthy site. These macros are essential to enable Exl-Plan to work. Note: This issue arises because Microsoft changed the default setting of macro security from medium to high for Excel 2000 and higher versions. See the tutorial Set Up Excel (2 min.) for guidance.

Q. If Exl-Plan only loads its FRONT worksheet and its special menus do not appear in Excel's menubar, what should I do?
Click to display full sizeReduce the security level set within Excel from High to Medium via Tools | Macro | Security | Security Level (click thumbs above and opposite for guidance). You should then close Excel, reload Excel and then reload Exl-Plan. You will then be asked whether you want to enable macros whenever you try to load a workbook file (like Exl-Plan) that contains macros. Note: This issue arises because Microsoft changed the default setting of macro security from medium to high for Excel 2000 and higher versions. See the tutorial Set Up Excel (2 min.) for guidance.

Q. If Exl-Plan loads all its worksheets but its special menus do not appear in Excel's menubar, what should I do?
If Exl-Plan loads and all its worksheets are visible but its special menus (they all start with * to simplify identification) do not appear in Excel's menubar, you will need to temporarily reduce the number of menus displayed by Excel by disabling any add-ins which create special menus. To do this, use Tools | Add-ins to open a list of available add-ins. Uncheck the relevant add-ins, press the OK button, close and reload Excel. This should allow Exl-Plan to load fully and display its menus. To restore the disabled add-ins, reverse the procedure described above.

Q. What should I do when a blank screen appears during loading of Exl-Plan and the system hangs?
This is probably due to a memory leak, caused by another application, which has reduced the memory available to Exl-Plan. To resolve, use CTRL+ALT + DEL to close down Excel and Exl-Plan. Then, reboot the PC to wash out the leak.

Q. Why does Excel fail to calculate automatically after I load Exl-Plan?
By design, Excel's autocalculate function does not work in Exl-Plan. To update projections, click the one of the "C" buttons within Exl-Plan's toolbar or use the calculate options within the *Tools/Setup menu. To restore autocalculate to Excel after using Exl-Plan, close and reload Excel.

Problems ?
If you experience a problem installing or loading Exl-Plan, feel free to use this Contact Form. Be sure to indicate file name; exact stage at which problem was experienced; and precise nature of problem or text of any message.

if using Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, refer to FAQs for Using Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016.


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3. Registering Exl-Plan

Q. Do I need to buy the optional manual?
No. Online help has virtually identical contents to the printed manual. Exl-Plan also includes a 90-page manual (Word or PDF format) and a series of Flash-based tutorials (running for 19 minutes) covering setting up Excel, getting started, the basics and using Quik-Plan. Manuals and the tutorials are included in the download files for all versions of Exl-Plan.

Q. If I acquire a manual for one version and subsequently trade up to a more powerful version, do I need a new manual?
No. All versions/editions include a unversal 90-page manual (Word or PDF format) and a series of Flash-based tutorials (running for 19 minutes) covering setting up Excel, getting started, the basics and using Quik-Plan.

Q. What is the advantage of remotely upgrading the trial version?
First, you get electronic delivery more quickly than if you have to wait for an air mail delivery. Second, you save time by not having to do a further download and re-install. Thirdly, you can start using the trial version immediately and will not lose your work when you upgrade. To remotely upgrade, use this service.

Q. Can I use the trial version to produce projections?
Yes, provided that the projections are done in the context of evaluating Exl-Plan for purchase. The trial version contains limitations and restricted facilities. These are removed when it is upgraded to the full-commercial version. Bear in mind that Excel's automatic recalculation is always turned off in all trial (and commercial) versions of Exl-Plan. To recalculate a model, select the menu option *Tools/Setup | Calculate All & Check or click the button with the "C" within the circle. To recalculate the current worksheet, select the menu option *Tools/Setup | Calculate Sheetor click the button with the "X" within the circle.

Q. If Exl-Plan is licensed to me as a single user, can I use it with a desktop PC at work as well as on a notebook at home?
Exl-Plan's license restricts the use of Exl-Plan to one PC (or notebook). The only exception is that a user may install a further copy of Exl-Plan onto a notebook (or PC) which s/he also personally uses. This concession does not extend under any circumstances to work colleagues or external businesses, advisers, clients, associates etc.

Q. How do I register Exl-Plan Free?
Send an email containing Exl-Plan's unique Registration Code Number in the body of an email to <exlfree@planware.org> and we'll send back a special Unlock Code Number. You can also register via a form here. That's it!

Got an Unanswered Question ?

If you can't find the answer to a question about Exl-Plan in the FAQs above or at the FAQ for Users, use this Contact Form and we'll get back to you.
.




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