The program takes one of two approaches: templates or interactive applications (the latter being kind of like a setup wizard of sorts). The first provides templates for the word processing and spreadsheet programs you're already familiar with. In terms of the quality of the guidance and the final document, however, we found the template approach less helpful than the second category of programs. The interactive group guides you through building a custom plan with an interview or helps you develop text and numbers by following examples displayed in front of you. The interactive products generally use a split screen for the text or financial sections of your plan, offering explanations or samples in the screen's top half and a custom word processor or spreadsheet in the lower half. The program then consolidates text, graphics, and attractive charts into a printable plan, with content and format quality varying from good to excellent.
Plan Write is the best product for guiding you through the stormy waters of creating a business plan. Even before you start the interactive interview process, Plan Write can step you through a basic break-even analysis. The program asks you for the unit cost, average unit price, number of units you'll sell and operating expenses, then displays a break-even chart with explanatory text customized to your situation.
The plan writing process starts when you click the Text button. The screen offers an explanation of each topic (called a Rationale) and an example at the top of the screen, either of which you can copy complete with a single mouse to the bottom half of the screen, where you compose your text. You can also switch to a full-screen view and use the text editor.
When dealing with financial information, Plan Write stands apart from the rest. You enter values one-by-one on some screens, viewing an explanation for each entry at the top. As you progress, you'll soon see a summary spreadsheet that consolidates all the previous information. When we wanted to change a value, we just clicked on it in the summary spreadsheet and Plan Write took us to the original data entry screen, and then let us jump back to the summary. That's unprecedented in plan writing software. For screens that let you enter data for an entire year, you left-click the mouse button on the row header (such as Royalties) to read an explanation of what should be included in this category.
Your financial data is instantly reflected in the good cross-section of charts. Double-click a bar in a bar chart and Plan Write takes you back to the financial screen where that data was originally entered; click on the Next button and you're back to your chart.
The program includes an excellent outline view for jumping between topics, and you can even use it to insert new text topics, spreadsheets, or charts anywhere you like. If you're stumped for ideas, click on the Internet button for access to more than 100 Web sites containing tips for using the program, improving your business plan, and locating investors.
This is the most detailed and in-depth business plan software that I have come across. If you are thinking about a new business venture any time soon I would definitely recommend this software to any one from top level executives to beginners starting something out of their basement.
If you would like to find out about this and many other helpful products you can visit their website at: www.brs-inc.com