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Planning and reporting processes under Covid-19 - 6 insights from the field

May. 29 2020 by Marco Van der Kooij, Managing Director - ForSight Consulting

Performance Management Budgeting & Planning

The effects of Covid-19 have created a new reality. Regular discussions with customers have helped me to build a picture of typical strategies used for planning and reporting and how they have contributed to managing the different reality in which we find ourselves. Here is a summary which I hope is instructive and useful.

1. Multidisciplinary teams: way to go

Many companies have created small multidisciplinary teams drawn from various departments, such as sales, marketing, finance, logistics and human resources. In this way they have managed to build a holistic picture of the internal and external effects on the organization, and put themselves in a position take multidisciplinary decisions and actions. In fact it soon became clear that the usual reporting processes and reporting lines were just too slow for decision making in these challenging times and a more flexible approach has been needed to share information directly with other stakeholders inside and outside the organization.

2. It’s not all about the financials

Management has needed to base decisions on information which is less substantial and often different in nature from the norm. There has been a call for more frequent updates about cash flow and working capital as well as operational and non-financial data. Operational data such as payment behavior, purchasing behavior in shops, orders via the Internet, absenteeism, where are products manufactured or delivered from and what are the risks – all this has taken on new significance and a new sense of urgency. The biggest change has been seen in non-financial data. For example, data and information broken down by country regarding what measures have been taken to manage the lockdown, and then for opening up society and the economy, suddenly became indispensable. What are the trends in countries in terms of infections and deaths, and what does this say about the possible actions of the government in these countries (such as closing and opening borders)?

3. Update, update and update some more

Organizations have introduced a new (rolling) forecast scenario called Covid-19, for a number of key internal and external indicators. This is updated more frequently than normal forecasts or latest estimate processes and has created a lot of intensive manual work. But for users of CCH Tagetik, the process of establishing a 13-month rolling forecast process, for example, has proved quick and simple to achieve.

4. Integrate figures with text automatically

Textual analyses have been required from the various disciplines within the organization in order to place this data in the right context, to substantiate and explain new and progressive insights. This rapid, team-based preparation and evaluation has proved to be a major challenge for many companies due to the lack of technical capability. In this situation, CCH Tagetik’s Collaborative Office has proved invaluable for its ability to integrate figures with text from reporting systems – integration of data sources with Word and Powerpoint is one way in which Collaborative Office has hugely simplified and streamlined reporting.

5. A model approach

Organizations have started working with scenarios to calculate the effect of important assumptions, costs and revenue drivers. Another typical example is to model the effect on short and medium term cash flow of government measures such as wage support or tax payment deferral. Predictive analyses based on time series to forecast the future are now redundant: phenomena such as abrupt data disruption due to an extreme change in demand, means they no long yield reliable results.

6. And the winner is…..digitization

Almost all the organizations I have spoken to have accelerated digitization and welcomed the financial function into the decision-making circle as a business partner.

All the above paints a picture of hastened implementation of integrated business planning and reporting as the necessity for these measures has become starkly clear. I am very curious to see how organizations make sustainable changes in their planning and reporting processes to boost the insights for decision making and gain the agility to cope when events threaten to overtake us.

If you want to know more about how CCH Tagetik can help companies to reforecast their business, connect their team and accelerate their planning check the CCH Tagetik Smart NOW App webpage here.

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