A Review of Business Planning Software

Off-the-shelf-software for marketing planning is good if you are educated on the fundamentals of marketing. The average person using these products may believe the software is the end to the means. Experienced marketers may cut down on time by using one of these tools keeping in mind the type of business, product, industry the plan is being created for and limitations to the software.

I asked a handful of marketers if they used marketing plan software reviewed in this paper. All replied no. Jill Toole, pointed out, “At IDC we don’t use any of the planning software mentioned. Managing and keeping track of information and actions that relate marketing is a big task.” (Toole. 2006).

Marketing PlanPro:
Marketing PlanPro software development by PaloAltoSoftware touts itself as being “the best way to create marketing plans”. (PaloAltoSoftware, 2006). Marketing PlanPro may be useful for up-start company business plan, but may not be strong enough for the marketing professional working directly for a large corporation or marketing consulting firm.

In assessing the strengths of Marketing PlanPro, it appears to be easy to use and a time saver. The application is effortless to install with many tutorials and reference materials. With Marketing PlanPro you can create a professional looking document. The software provides marketing analysis and forecasting and automatic charting tools. Reference materials and technical support are available. The structure for Marketing PlanPro provides a good outline.

Using Marketing PlanPro becomes problematic when there is more reliance on the product’s performance and not on research. Marketing PlanPro is not appropriate for the average person who is trying to develop a business. There needs to be some knowledge of marketing or business. Marketing PlanPro may be too weak for the experienced marketer. The analytical and forecasting tools will require the user to have some knowledge of math. Marketing PlanPro provides templates from similar businesses. Sole reliance on using these templates for content may cause misunderstanding of the market place. The template structure may be too limiting for the experienced marketer.

brs Planrite
brs Plan Write for Marketing Software is used by mangers, entrepreneurs and consultants. (brs Marketing Plan Software, 2006) brs PlanWrite for Marketing Software is developed to help to define the actions necessary for effective marketing strategy. This tool is great for expert marketers.

brs PlanWrite for Marketing Software provides organization of strategy in linear style and outline the components of marketing planning process. The built-in algorithms will help to determine competition. Pre supplied data and analytical rules based on business and economic research. The 60-question process allows the software to analyze long term business success. It provides concise charts and graphing tools for decision making.

brs PlanWrite for Marketing Software is not for everyone. There needs to be an understanding of the marketing process. The data resources provided for determining market competition may be outdated or not beneficial to the industry, product or service. The business and economic research supplied may be out of date. There was no indication this research is updated on a regular basis. Reliance using out dated research could lead to poor marketing decisions.

PlanMagic makes the claim on the website to be the “leading edge marketing plan software”. Immediately I am skeptical because PlanMagic does not provide any demonstrations to substantiate the company’s claims.

PlanMagic is designed “to be used by entrepreneurs, startups, home business, small businesses, college students…” (PlanMagic Corporation. 1995-2006). Indicated software has easy to follow guides and instructions. Provides an analytical tool for internal and external factors. PlanMagic has easy integration with MS Excel.

The planMagic website is confusing. It does not provide a good demonstration of the product. PlanMagic made claims having various charting and analytical tools but there was no demonstrated evidence of these tools or an indication of how well they work.

EXMAR® strategic marketing, developed by the Marketing Process Company in conjunction with Malcolm McDonald Professor Emeritus. (The Marketing Process Company. 2006). EXMAR® software provides tools to manage marketing more effectively as well as the ability to analyze growth and profit. (The Marketing Process Company. 2006). EXMAR® is sold as part of marketing planning consulting package.

EXMAR® is very comprehensive software with the capability of charts, matrices, graphs and reports. Taking the time to develop Gap Analysis, Perceptual maps, SWOT analysis, Porter Matrix, Market segmentation & mapping, Objective and strategy setting by using MS Excel or some data mapping software is consuming. Making these tools available will cut down on time. Has the flexibility to produce the final document in MS Word or PowerPoint.

The organization of the materials was disappointing and difficult which subtracts from the product’s credibility. The Marketing Process Company provides EXMAR® and consulting as the product. A small business or entrepreneurial company may not want the added expense of using EXMAR®.

Which of the four business planning software did I like best?
I have never used off-the-shelf marketing plan software. Most of my clients are entrepreneurial companies and small businesses, I prefer doing my own research, with a process that works best for their needs. In the interest of producing timely reports so that marketing efforts can be tracked, analyzed, and retooled I would probably opt for brs PlanWrite. I originally liked EXMAR® for the robust analytical tools but my clients would not buy additional consulting services. brs PlanWrite provides the flexibility with some analytical tools for my clients’ needs.

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