For many financial services professionals, the current economic conditions are mirroring those of the Great Recession. If the last recession taught us anything, it is that predictable cashflow and liquidity at any given time is crucial to successful financial planning. Similar to the 2008 crisis, the rapidly changing economic environment makes planning for investments, liquidity, and budgets very difficult.
Leaders like you and your Finance Team depend on consistency and relatively predictable planning cycles for product, marketing, sales, and operations. Given the swift shifts of the economy as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaders are faced with reacting, recovering, and reimagining their business. During ongoing and evolving conversations with industry experts, we hear questions regarding where to allocate scarce resources, where to source liquidity, or how to accurately measure current financial performance to predict and plan for the future. The best steps to follow in order to plan for what seems like an unplannable time are to:
- Synthesize Your Data
- Perform Frequent Scenario Analysis
- ADAPT Fast
Synthesize your data:
Gathering and uncovering insights from your data is a critical part of any planning process, but when it comes to financial planning, especially during a time of crisis, it is essential.
Data can be sourced both internally and externally, taking into consideration marketing trends, ecoonmic data, and your own customer data. When gathering data, the intent is to get the full picture of performance from your company and its investments. Areas to consider include bookings, sales, customer retention, cash flow based on collections and payables, value at risk, and detailed forecasts. According to Jason Kurtz, Managing Director at Accel-KKR, it’s also important to look at leading indicators of future growth – engagement with prospects, pipeline analytics conversion rates, etc. Then, if those are improving, considerations to carefully invest can be made.
“Only unleash cash to a market that is becoming viable again.” – Jason Kurtz, Managing Director, Accel KKR
This stage of planning is frequently the most difficult for executives because often, the need for more stern data and analytics practices is brought to light. More specifically, being able to answer questions and plan for your organization's future requires having a strong foundation for Data Governance.
Dig Deeper: If you are investing in a company or a company is investing in you, you need to know one way or another if the company will be able to stay healthy in future disruptions large or small scale. To get an accurate answer to that question requires understanding the lineage for every data element out there and being able to rationalize reports to make sure that you don’t have analytics that disagrees with one another.
Perform Frequent Scenario Analysis
After gathering your data insights and metrics, you should perform scenario or sensitivity analysis. You should frequently be running through variations of scenarios such as: What if bookings are down? What if another health or economic crisis hits? Then, making sure you have adequate plans for them, or that your existing plan accounts for any potential disruptors.
Dig Deeper: Are you able to show a data-driven plan for what your company would look like from a financial perspective if unemployment skyrocketed and the dollar collapsed? To have a true answer to that question, you need to have metrics and analytics in place to give you real-time insights on your financial performance.
This is why we’ve seen many companies investing in advanced analytics like AI and machine learning. Unlike reporting of the past, advanced analytics techniques can provide insight into the future (predictive analytics) or intelligently suggest the next steps (prescriptive analytics). This makes it easier to plan for any scenario that could arise in the future.
“The whole idea behind machine learning and AI is the ability to adapt to massive shifts in information. Your program can evolve and adjust to changes in the environment.” – Brian Beesley, Director of Data Science, CCG
In a recent Virtual Forum on Ways to Drive Revenue with Your Recovery Plans, John Jose, Senior Finance Director of Headington Companies' final advice to other industry experts ,was to “avoid analysis paralysis and prioritize your metrics with a team that’s focused.” This is the piece that many companies struggle with, and in the current state of the economy, it’s understandable to overanalyze. But the true recovery will come in the form of being nimble and ready to fail fast.
Dig Deeper: At one Food and Beverage Company, utilizing Customer Intelligence allowed them to launch a digital transformation in just six weeks that generated a 200% increase from projected sales for a single revenue source. This project was originally intended to take far longer, but because they had the analytics solutions and the plans in place, they were able to quickly adapt to the changing environment caused by COVID-19. With analytics solutions in place, companies can quickly ingest new data to report quickly and accurately. Legacy data solutions can often weigh down a business and cause an excess of time and energy on basic reporting.
Stick with It
Walking through the three steps in this blog is a great starting point for financial planning, but it’s important that you evaluate and continuously improve to stay ahead of the curve. Now more than ever, planning will need to be iterative, and changes will likely need to be made along the way. And that’s okay. It may seem daunting, but it will certainly play a large role in the longevity of your company.
As you adjust strategy and plans, CCG can help equip you and your team with prescriptive and predictive analytics offerings based on a new fact base. Our ADAPT team experts are leveraging an agile methodology to continuously listen, learn, and adapt to the marketplace to provide recommendations based on topics that are working for customers leveraging data analytics to stabilize their operations. Visit our ADAPT with Analytics page by clicking here. To learn more about our Financial Services Solutions click here or contact an expert at email@example.com.
“In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.” – Albert Einstein
Written by CCG, an organization in Tampa, Florida, that helps companies become more insights-driven, solve complex challenges and accelerate growth through industry-specific data and analytics solutions.