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Recession Proofing Your Business: Cash Forecasting During Volatility

What you’ll learn

  • In the wake of an impending recession, businesses could be exposed to a shortfall of cash due to a lack of demand, disruption in the supply chain, and the inability to forecast cash accurately.
  • How technology can help you overcome the shortcomings of manual cash forecasting and improve working capital management

Business leaders cannot use a crystal ball to predict a probable economic collapse. However, due to market turbulence and the potential for financial instability, it is advised that the key to minimizing threats in a recession is to be proactive rather than reactive during an economic downturn. Regardless of market fluctuations, a company's cash management strategy should provide opportunities for growth. This blog discusses how an accurate cash flow forecast can help CFOs with strategic planning in order to recession-proof their business, achieve short-term goals, and move closer to long-term goals.

Cash forecasting during normalcy vs. crisis

Cash forecasting during normalcy

The CFO, Treasurer, and Board of Directors require forecasts on a monthly/quarterly basis but they seldom require frequent iterations. Furthermore, since working capital isn’t a top concern, a reasonable accuracy is acceptable. The treasury team collects data manually from various data sources, consolidates them into a single spreadsheet, and updates the forecasts on a periodic basis.

Cash forecasting during a crisis

CFOs expect a  higher degree of accuracy at regular intervals, as well as make more frequent adjustments to recent cash flow data. During a recession, with working capital being a major concern, the Treasury Department has to re-forecast on a regular basis, but gathering data and collaborating with teams gets tedious.

During high economic volatility, measuring the Cash Conversion Cycle becomes necessary to make working capital decisions. This is how it is calculated:


A shorter Cash Conversion Cycle indicates better working capital management and the financial health of the company.

The lower the DSO, the lower is the CCC. Since DSO is impacted majorly by AR, AR forecasting helps in detecting early indicators of cash shortfall such as:

  • DSO lengthening
  • Lower customer credit score
  • Partial payments
  • Payment terms pushback

These are addressed by:

  • Aggressive collections
  • Leveraging supply chain finance to mitigate risks
  • Providing incentives to fast-paying customers
  • Getting creative with payment terms to identify long-term customers

Challenges in cash forecasting during a recession

Forecasting cash becomes arduous during volatility due to the reasons outlined below:

  • Lack of baseline historical data or inaccurate data.
  • Different industries are affected differently by economic distress.
  • Key cash flow indicators change on a regular basis, making forecasting assumptions obsolete over time.

Due to the stated reasons, it is crucial to adjust forecasts regularly. This is where technology offers assistance.

Cash forecasting limitations of manual processes

Forecasting manually encounters shortcomings limited to short-term period with lower confidence due to the following factors:

  • Excel limits appropriate models that can meet business requirements.
  • Historical data is insufficient in rapidly changing environments.

Technology’s Contribution to Continuous and Accurate Cash Forecasting

The limitations of manually-driven forecasting can be eliminated by leveraging tools. These are some of the benefits that technology brings to achieve better cash forecasting accuracy:

  • Easy aggregation across data sources automatically and a single repository that makes it easier to access data.
  • Bottom-up forecasts and flexible models provide better ways to tailor forecasts based on industry needs.
  • Time series forecasting allows integration of recent trends and makes it simple for reforecasting.
  • Real-time reports boost confidence among upper management.
  • The aging of AR is predicted more practically with AI by using more variables and algorithms.
  • Forecasting is done more frequently for various cash flow categories with continuous variance analysis between forecasts vs. actuals

Impact of Accurate Cash Forecasting for Liquidity Planning

An accurate cash flow forecast aids CFOs in strategic planning to improve results, achieve short-term objectives, and move closer to long-term objectives.

The additional advantages include:

  • An optimized cash conversion cycle.
  • Better scenario planning to take proactive steps to combat future cash flow issues.
  • Superior decision-making towards investments and borrowing over longer time horizons at low-interest rates.
  • Accurate estimation of quarter-ending cash position by keeping the balance sheet up to date.
  • Possibility to run what-if scenarios for both short-term and long-term liquidity planning.
  • The lower variance between forecasts vs. actuals.
To learn more about the importance of AI-based cash flow forecasting,watch this webinar
Click for full HighRadius webinar on recession proofing your business, cash forecasting during volatility

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The HighRadius™ Treasury Management Applications consist of AI-powered Cash Forecasting Cloud and Cash Management Cloud designed to support treasury teams from companies of all sizes and industries. Delivered as SaaS, our solutions seamlessly integrate with multiple systems including ERPs, TMS, accounting systems, and banks using sFTP or API. They help treasuries around the world achieve end-to-end automation in their forecasting and cash management processes to deliver accurate and insightful results with lesser manual effort.