liquidityriskanalysis

Nobody likes a budget that is far off target, especially when it could result in a liquidity crisis. Luckily, most companies rarely have to experience such a stressful event. Although, in a turbulent economy where interest rates and stock indexes move up and down like yo-yos and news about corporate layoffs are part of daily news headlines, strong financial clarity does not seem like a bad idea.

So, what does a cash flow forecast mean to most people?

Here is a definition: A cash flow forecast is a plan that shows how much money a business expects to receive in, and pay out, over a given period of time. 

Based on the definition above, it seems logical that all businesses should have a cash flow forecast perfectly ingrained in their corporate processes, but is that the reality? Let’s take a closer look at this.

What are Cash Flow Budgets? 

Cash flow budgets are a set of elements.  In particular, capital requirements, cost of goods, development expenses, operating expenses, and sales and revenue are all highlighted by a cash flow budget.  And like every other quality budget, your cash flow projections rely on past performance data.  In order to forecast your cash flow, you will begin by looking at your estimated sales for the next year, related to the percentage of business volume produced monthly.  You’ll divide each month’s sales by cash and credit sales. 

Your cash sales can be recorded in the cash flow report in the same month they’re generated.  As for your credit sales, they are not credit card sales that are treated as cash, but instead, they have invoiced sales with agreed-upon terms.  Therefore, you will want to look at your AR (accounts receivable) records and figure out your typical collection period.  You won’t be able to log your credit sales as cash until 5-10 days after the period ends because you are waiting on another bank to receive payment.

Next up is other income.  More specifically, the next line item on a cash flow statement is the revenue you get from investments, interest accrued on loans that have been extended, and liquidating any assets.  The sum of cash sales, receivables, and other income is your total income.  In your first month of cash flow budgeting, it will typically be comprised of cash sales, other income, and any receivables from the previous budget that have matured to a collection point during the first month of the current budget.

Are All Businesses Doing Cash Flow Forecasting?

As much as it seems to make perfect sense to have a good estimate of your future cash outflows and inflows, many companies never get around to doing it. This is especially true in small and mid-sized businesses. Some of the reasons for the lack of cash flow forecasting models are the following:

  • The finance staff don’t have time to prepare it
  • Lack of tools that automate cash flow forecasting
  • Complexity in creating a good cash flow model
  • Lack of accuracy in past models leading to reduced appetite to repeat it
  • Other business tasks or fires keep executives focused in other areas
  • The financial planning team is exhausted after then annual budget process with no time or motivation to re-forecast the budget during the year

Regardless of the reason for not doing a cash flow forecast, healthy cash flow is the lifeblood of all businesses, so there is no lack of motivation.

Let’s look at the potential benefits of accurate cash flow forecasting.

Why Do Companies Want to Project Their Future Cash Outflows and Inflows?

Most executives know they would sleep better at night if they had a mechanism that fairly accurately could tell them if the liquidity of their business is healthy or not in the months ahead.

Below is an example of a report using simple color indicators and charts to help managers analyze the company’s projected cash position based on underlying cash flow forecast.

liquidity risk analysis

There are several very logical reasons why a company can benefit from regular cash flow forecasts, including:

  1. Reduce the risk of insolvency – by having a clear idea of any upcoming liquidity issues, management can react early and avoid drama and stress
  2. Move faster on investment opportunities – if you, thanks to a cash flow forecast, early on know that the business will be flush with cash in the months ahead, you can start planning acquisitions, down payment of high interest debt, purchases of strategic capital assets, etc.
  3. Satisfy bankers to enable debt financing or other bank-backed financial transactions

In other words, solid cash flow forecasts can be of tremendous value to a management team. However, if many financial teams dread the additional work of doing planning and performing a cash flow analysis, how can companies still get it done?

How to Automate Cash Flow Forecasts?

As in many other cases, technology can help automate laborious tasks. In the case of cash flow forecasting, there is a cloud software category often referred to as Corporate Performance Management (CPM) solutions that includes vendors such as Adaptive Insights, Centage and Solver that specialize in planning, budgeting and forecasting.

Benefits of CPM tools include scenario forecasting to predict “great”, “good” and “bad” scenarios so managers can plan accordingly. In other cases, CPM solutions provide entire driver-based forecast processes. Driver-based means that the forecast includes assumptions that help automate and simplify creation of sales, payroll, expenses, balance sheet and cash flow forecasts.

Sometimes managers don’t have the time or the need for a full forecast to analyze projected liquidity, in which case they can use simulation models to quickly adjust elements of their cash outflows and inflows to see the impact on the cash position as seen in this example:

cashflowanalysis

Most executives would agree that accurate cash flow forecasts provide numerous benefits to their business. During economic turmoil cash flow forecasts can help lower the risk of running into liquidity problems and increasing the chance to be ready to jump on investment opportunities. Regardless of the motivation, there are good tools available to help automate and simplify such financial planning processes.

At Solver, we offer Corporate Performance Management Solutions that help you establish cash flow forecasts and analyses and prepare for uncertain times. Contact one of our expert team members to learn how we can help you improve your cash flow processes.

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blog image for corporate performance management during COVID-19

As we all struggle to adjust to our new reality of social distancing and general economic uncertainty, it seems as if our expectations for the future are changing day-by-day, if not hour-by-hour.

It is hard to tell what next week will be like for businesses across the world, much less what next month will look like – or six months from now. However, with a good Corporate Performance Management (CPM) solution, your company can gain insight into a range of possible future scenarios, so you can start executing meaningful action items right now.

With the right CPM in your toolbox, you can get fast answers to pressing COVID-related questions, such as:

  • How will it impact my business if I let some employees go? 
  • What can I expect for cash flow, as things stand now? 
  • Which expenses should I cut – now and later?
  • Who are the customers that are slow to pay? 
  • What is the best case scenario of COVID on my business… and the worst?

If you are not sure how to find those answers with your CPM, or if you are not sure whether your current system provides this critical information, this article will help.

What Are the Two Essential Capabilities of Corporate Performance Management During COVID-19?

If you already have and use a world-class Corporate Performance Management system such as Solver, Adaptive Insights, or Prophix, you can breathe easy. You already have access to the tools you will need to answer your COVID-related questions.

Those tools are:

1. Forecasting

Due to the ever-changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly every company across the planet is having to throw out and replace their 2020 budgets right now. Forecasting on the fly can be difficult if you are working from spreadsheets but, with a highly effective CPM solution, you will have the freedom to run new forecasts for every twist and turn as the coronavirus situation unfolds.

Some of the best forecasts to run include:

  • Payroll modelling / forecasting

As a business leader, you already understand that it is possible you may have to let a few employees go or do a temporary salary cut before we all return to “business as usual.” This forecast helps you clearly identify the effect of your staffing strategy, so you can be more confident that you are making the right choice.

  • Sales modelling / forecasting

Perhaps you are not looking at staff reductions. Essential industries such as healthcare or food and health manufacturing are experiencing a steep rise in sales as a result of the coronavirus. However, whether your sales are on the rise or your company is facing a temporary slowdown, it is critical that you have accurate, timely insight into what you can expect for sales and revenues in 2020.

  • P&L, Balance Sheet, and Cash Flow forecasting

It is always a good business practice to keep a close watch on your P&Ls and Balance Sheets to make sure your financials are in order. With the abrupt market shifts we are all seeing right now, it is more important than ever to closely oversee changes in your operating, investing, and financing cash flows as you update your strategy.

2. Reporting

In an emergency, it can be difficult to sort through the sea of reports available to you from a Corporate Performance Management solution, so here is your quick guide to the essential reports you will need right now.

  • Multiple forecast versions compared

Gain insight into your organization’s best-case scenarios, worst-case scenarios, and everything in between using this easy-to-understand comparison report that maximizes your forecasting vision.

Actuals vs. Budgets are handy when your budget fits a predicted scenario, but we think it is safe to guess that your budgets do not quite match up with your reality right now. This report replaces your budgets with forecasts, so you can perform a more accurate actual vs. “budget” comparison that is based on the most up-to-date data.

  • Reports focused on vendor and payroll expenses

It may be time to cut expenses soon, so knowing which of your expenses are “expendable” may be critical information for your company. This report gives you the numbers you need, so you are prepared to cut back if and when that is required.

  • Customer aging receivables

Right now, every company across the world is anxious about the future and rethinking their expenditures – including your clients. By using reports focused on customer aging receivables, you will get quick and accurate insight into which of your customers or clients are late to pay, so you can check in instantly.

Not Using a CPM Solution Yet? There Is Still Time.  

If you are relying on unwieldy spreadsheets or the limited reporting options included with your ERP, you are probably frustrated at the lack of insight you have.

In truth, lack of insight can be a big problem for companies right now, considering how quickly the economic landscape situation is changing. If you are ready to get accurate, up-to-date financial and operational data at your fingertips, including easy-to-read KPI dashboards, planning tools, and a secure data warehouse to house all your data, now is the right time to get your Corporate Performance Management solution set up.

Setting up a modern CPM solution is easier than ever, but you will still need to make sure you choose the right solution for your needs. Though you have a wide range of strong CPM solutions available to your company, your ideal solution will depend on your unique business setup, size, industry, integration needs, and objectives.

However, to make sure your CPM system meets your precise needs during the coronavirus situation and beyond, you will want to ensure you choose a CPM that fits these requirements:

  • Cloud-based solution

If your workforce is largely working from home (WFH) for the duration, now will not be the right time to deploy or support an on-premises / in-office server solution. A cloud-based CPM is more convenient to implement and support during a disruption, and it is also more convenient to access for consultants working from home.

  • Rapid deployment

A CPM that takes months to deploy will not help you solve the situation right here and now. Cloud-based solutions are faster and easier to deploy than on-premises solutions, and CPMs that include pre-built vendor report and forecast templates will get you analyzing your evolving numbers the same day your solution goes live, so you can answer your critical questions instantly.

Learn More About Your Options for Corporate Performance Management

If chosen carefully, effective, cloud-based CPMs can help you maintain your agility with quick decision-making during the coronavirus or any other unexpected setback.

Ready for some advice that will help you determine which CPM is right for you? We can help.

Since 1996, the global team of CPM experts at Solver have helped companies like yours successfully navigate the rapidly changing business landscapes that define our modern, global commerce world. We are happy to share our expertise with you, so you can find your path through this unexpected and unprecedented worldwide situation.

Truly, you can ask us anything about CPM. We promise you a careful, well-reasoned answer that makes sense for your exact needs. (We do not like one-size-fits-all answers, and we suspect you do not like them either.)

 

We guarantee that when you contact Solver, you will get the guidance and help you need to understand all your CPM options, so you can confidently move your business forward in all situations, including right now.

Ask Solver a Question.