We didn’t get far into 2020 before all existing business plans became virtually meaningless.

A period of firefighting ensued and we’re now at the stage where, despite the constantly changing situation, businesses need to be working from robust plans, informed by strong analysis.

Keep things fluid

Using scenario planning and dynamic forecasting allows for regular revisions and shifts when the business environment evolves and provides businesses with real-time information to inform operational decision making. We’ve talked before about how one of our clients are now using their rolling forecast as a day-to-day operational tool to ensure that decisions are being made based on the most relevant data available. This gives an idea of how fundamental accurate, dynamic forecasts can be.

Think fast and think big

With the current speed of change, and the unpredictability of the future – will industry continue to open up or are we heading into another lockdown period? – plans and models are likely to become outdated almost as soon as they are created at the moment. With that in mind, focus more on something that provides the insight you require and can be achieved quickly, rather than a model that has been lovingly created and finessed to the nth degree.

Focus on the drivers with the biggest impact

Now is not the time to engage with granular analysis on every level of every driver. Identify those making the greatest impact on your business position and cash flow and concentrate your scenario planning and analysis around them. Global changes can be applied to less significant influences at this point in the knowledge that they won’t have as large an effect on the bigger picture.

Remember that cash is king

Having the ability to model scenarios and gain an accurate picture of your cash position in different situations is vital. Being able to do this at speed, generating new scenarios as fast as the outlook changes, will be key to identifying and evaluating developing risks based on their impact on your working capital.

Cover all eventualities

Without a crystal ball, no one knows how the rest of this year is going to unfold. This is why it’s crucial to develop of range of scenarios for your business. A sandboxing capability is needed to run a comprehensive range of what-if scenarios and multiple models, to provide the best basis for profitable decision making. By planning for all possibilities you enable your business to react with agility to the next market change.

Properly equip your FP&A team

None of the above can be achieved with ease and at speed through using a spreadsheet-based system. Free your team from the pain of the blunt tool that is Excel and give them access to multi-dimensional planning capability. A change in approach may be required, but it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive; getting started with Planning Analytics on Demand can cost as little as $45 per month.

Consider how much more effectively your FP&A function could plan for current volatile conditions if they had the best tools for the job. Get in touch today to discover exactly how valuable Planning Analytics could be to you.

Simon Bradshaw

I have worked in finance and business systems development since 2001 and am an associate member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. In 2016 I became a founding member of Spitfire Analytics, a consultancy specialising in IBM Planning Analytics. We are committed to building long-term relationships across all industries. I focus on my CPD through CIMA and IBM badges, ensuring I am always abreast of best practice and developments within the industry.


The great thing about working with Spitfire Analytics is their financial background.  We can just explain what we need in our own terms and they understand exactly what needs to be done.

- Phil Talbot, Finance Director, Robertson Group

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