How to Secure the Financial Planning When the Outside World Changes
There are many medium-sized and large companies that still use Excel for budgeting and forecasting even though the process is often complex and time-consuming. You don’t want to base important business decisions on poor financial forecasts – and you don’t have to.
“Today there’s no reason to base critical business decisions on your gut feeling. If you’re well prepared and work continuously with financial forecasts you can make well-informed decisions and adapt more quickly during a crisis, says Jimmy Stenqvist Evegård, CEO at Planacy.
There are many reasons to why a prosperous company can suddenly find itself in a new reality: an unexpected recession, a new disruptive competitor that’s rapidly gaining market shares, or a new law or regulation that demands change. The decisions made there and then can be crucial both short- and long term. That’s why it’s important to make well-informed decisions based on facts rather than gut feelings.
”To always have accurate data for decision making you need a continuously updated view of the company’s financial future. You have to work frequently and regularly with financial planning and not just on a few fixed occasions per year. "
Forecasting in Excel can work well for smaller companies but when the process is more complex, and many people are involved it becomes administratively heavy and takes an unnecessary amount of time. A modern system is therefore often required in order for medium sized and large companies to work more frequently with their forecast.
”Surprisingly many big companies are still struggling with Excel or use outdated systems that aren’t suited for their processes or needs. People in the financial department spend an infinite amount of time on administrating the process – such as preparing and consolidating hundreds of Excel sheets – instead of using that time to support the business with their skills and important analyses.”
In contrast, companies that are better prepared and work proactively and continuously with the financial planning can immediately gather input from the right people in their business and get a good overview of the expected P&L. This gives the Board, management as well as the rest of the company a better basis for decision-making.
”Planacy’s vision is to simplify collaborative and continuous work with financial planning. We want to contribute to making budgeting, forecasting and planning more proactive and value-creating. It doesn’t only have to be an administrative process to make the board happy”, says Jimmy Stenqvist Evegård.
How to streamline a more continuous work with financial planning:
1. Let the financial department run free – reduce manual work
Data collection, data validation and consolidation can be systemized and automized. In this way, you can free up time for the financial department so they can focus on their expertise – supporting the business with their financial and analytical skills and thus, create more value for the company.
2. Delegate to the right people
With a system for budget, forecast and planning it becomes easier to delegate to the people with the most insight. Avoid forecasting on accounts and use concepts and KPIs that everyone in the business can understand. In this way you can make the most accurate and qualitative assumptions possible.
3. Streamline the financial planning
Identify the whole chain of budget drivers and design a process that clearly shows what assumptions affect what: what drives P&L as well as positive and negative cashflows. Streamline the whole process from sales, personnel costs, P&L to balance sheet and cash flow forecasts.