Opstarts is designed to let you build plans that reflect your business today, and can easily and quickly be updated as your business evolves. Instead of creating formulas in a spreadsheet, in Opstarts you create plan items reflecting your employees, expenses, revenue streams, and additional cash inflows/outflows. Then you define parameters and relationships between these items, and Opstarts takes care of the rest.
The steps below apply to all plans. In addition to those, we have additional resources about modeling specific types of businesses:
Steps 1-2: Defining items in your model
1. Create a New Plan
Hit the Create New Plan button to start a new plan.
You'll be asked a name, start date, and starting cash balance for your model. If your model starts in January, the cash balance value should be your Jan 1 start value (ie: your Dec 31 ending balance). You can also set currency and number formatting options here.
Next, you'll be able to import plan items.
2. Create/Import Plan Items
You can either import items in your model from spreadsheets/apps (guide to importing plan items), or add them individually in Opstarts from the plan item list (right sidebar).
The four types of plan items are:
Employees - employee items can reflect either individual employees or groups of employees. The most common modeling approach is to have a single plan item for each existing or known hire, and single items for sets of future hires (Future Engineering Hires, etc).
Expenses - expense items that can be budgets ($x/mo on marketing) or unit-based (x computers at $x/each) with amounts either driven by the expense item or generated from another item (like COGS or headcount-driven expenses)
Products - product items model your revenue streams. For high-volume products where subscriptions are all similar, a single product item can be used to model a single subscription revenue stream (monthly Basic subscription, annual Pro subscription, etc). For revenue streams that each have different terms/prices/etc, like many enterprise contracts, a single plan item can be created for each customer.
Cash - other cash inflows/outflows like investments, loans, payments, etc.
After you've created the plan items required for your model, you can customize them to create your projections.
For any parameter mentioned below, you can enter either a static value, or a value that changes over time. To vary a value over time, click the arrow to the right of the input to open the multivalue input grid.
To create multiple versions of similar items (for example, multiple products with all the same parameters except different prices), click the duplicate button in the bottom left of the plan item editor (next to delete).
At this point you've created a basic budget model that will project forward in a simple straight-line manner. To turn this into a real model, you'll next customize the parameters in your plan items.
Steps 3-6: Customizing your plan items and relationships
3. Customize Employee Info
From the Settings->Employee menu, you can configure plan-wide employee settings.
- Employee overhead - a load factor applied to all salaries to account for things like payroll taxes. You can also opt to set this at 0% and create all these overhead items individually as headcount links.
- Annual raise - a default amount to increase all base salaries every year
In individual employee plan items, you can configure parameters like salary, start date, etc.
4. Customize Expense Info
From the Settings->Categories menu, you can define plan-wide expense categories.
In individual expense items, you can configure budgets, budget increases over time, etc.
5. Customize Product/Sales info
For each Product item, you can define parameters like Price, subscription recurrence period (or non-recurring for one-time sales), growth rates, churn etc.
Typically, plans are first started in a top-down manner, using the organic growth value to model sales growth. Later, plans can be refined to use lead generation or sales staffing to generate sales growth.
When modeling individual plan items for enterprise contracts, all future sales are typically modeled with a product item like "Forecasted Future Enterprise Sales" with an expected average contract value.
Pro users can specify revenue recognition and payment terms to generate cash, accrual, and recurring revenue numbers from the same model.
For products (generally self-service type sales) with sales driven from inbound leads, you can define a conversion funnel (and create a leads link in step 6).
For products that exist in the first month of your plan, "Pre-existing subscribers" is checked by default. This uses your growth and churn parameters to model your starting subscriber count as a mix of renewing previous subscribers and new sales. If you want all of those subscribers to be modeled as new subscriptions starting that month, uncheck the box.
From the Settings->Categories menu, you can define plan-wide product categories to use for creating reports/metrics based on product groups like "Enterprise Products" or "Subscription Products."
6. Define Links
After you've defined the objects in your plan, you can create links to define relationships between items. Links can apply to either sets of items or individual items.
The most common group links are headcount links:
These links let you create any expense driven by headcount - either new headcount or all headcount, all employees or only a certain category, a flat $ amount per employee or % of salary, etc. Timing and frequency can be adjusted to model things like bonuses and commissions.
Links can also be created from individual plan items.
Employees - Lead generation, Expense generation
Expenses - Lead generation
Products - Expense generation (typically used for COGS or Commission), Commission (this is only used as part of the bottoms-up sales planning module, in top-down models use Expense links), Sales (cross-sells), Upgrades/Downgrades
Now you have a model reflecting your expense and revenue growth over time, and the interactions/dependencies between items in your plan. Next, you can further customize your plan to generate accurate metrics and detailed reports customized for your needs.
Steps 7-12: Fine-tuning your model and reports/analytics/scenarios
7. Define CAC/COGS
Opstarts lets you fine-tune your CAC and COGS items to generate accurate SaaS metrics and income statements. Opstarts uses default values/rules to automatically calculate CAC and COGS values from your links, which you can then customize further.
8. Customize your views
Click the settings icon on the right to select which items to display in your KPI bar. Just let us know if there are specific other KPIs you'd like to see here.
Select the date range to display in your charts/tables/reports using the date control in the top right. Click the left date to select a starting date, then click one of the buttons or the right date control to set the end date for your views.
9. Customize reports
Opstarts comes with a set of default reports. You can create customized reports tailored to your requirements by adding most values from your Opstarts model into any report. If you would like additional data fields accessible for your reports, just let us know. You can export reports to CSV or Google Sheets.
10. Link Actuals
Opstarts makes it easy to import your actuals and automatically reconcile/reforecast your plan each month.
11. Build a bottoms-up sales plan
You can use the Opstarts Sales Planning module to build a bottoms-up quota-driven revenue model that scales based on sales organization staffing. This can be done to integrate your sales ops model directly into your main operational plan, or can be built as a parallel plan to serve as a reality check for your top-down goals.
12. Build Scenarios
Once you've created a base operational plan, you can create scenarios to model and compare the impacts of different hiring plans, sales forecasts, expense budgets, etc.
Questions? Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for help with your modeling.