Read the eBook to know insights on why organizations are investing in re-engineering their cash forecasting process & the role of the Treasury in it.
In the wake of the last global financial crisis, providing strong and accurate cash flow management has become a top priority for treasury teams. While methods have been implemented to improve cash liquidity, effective cash forecasting remains one of the biggest issues that corporate treasury teams grapple with today.
Treasurers now need to think more than ever about cash forecasting and how that might help them identify pockets of surplus cash that can be put to better use. This is where the problem lies. According to a PwC survey, both the CFO and the Treasurer said that cash forecasting is their top priority and challenging one.
Top Priorities on the CFO’s agenda vs the treasurer’s agenda (weighted ranking)
Number of respondants: CFOs- 222; Treasurers- 185
Cash forecasting, when performed accurately, enables:
Longer term investing making decisions
Reduced borrowing costs, more effective hedging programs
Manage daily liquidity to ensure
– shortfalls are covered
– Surpluses are concentrated to earn some yield on excess cash
This ebook provides a lot of insights into why organizations are investing in re-engineering their cash forecasting process and the role of the Treasury in it. It also explores the key pillars which define the process efficiency and how organizations could leverage the Cash Forecasting Maturity Model to gauge where they stand and advance in the right direction. The next section will help you understand the four key focus areas to concentrate on to achieve best-in-class forecasting.
There are 4 important components of the cash forecasting process which play a critical role in making the process faster and more efficient.
Approach – Art vs Science – The approach in which the cash forecasting is done defines the accuracy of the forecasting. So it is important to define and have an approach based on the type of cash forecasting you do. There are essentially two main types of cash forecasting methods – direct or indirect.
Data Gathering –
Modeling –Once the treasury team has collected and aggregated all the relevant data, they may create their forecast
Variance Analysis –
Improving the strength of these pillars can go a long way in building reliable cash forecasts. The following discusses how these are key success factors in building an accurate and reliable forecast.
The maturity of the cash forecasting process corresponds to the effectiveness of the process with respect to the four components. The next chapter explores how the cash forecasting process could be evolved on the four high impact pillars.
1. Laggards – The organization has some process in place but they are inadequate in that there are many gaps which affect the day to day running of the organization.
2. Proactive Process – The organization has in place process practices that are adequate in supporting the business under stable circumstances, and enable it to develop but will not be sufficient in challenging times.
3. Strategic Process – The organization has in place professional practices which enable it to cope effectively in challenging times and will identify some opportunities to improve its performance.
4. Best-in-class Process – The organization has processes and practices that are leading edge and allow it to anticipate both challenges and key opportunities, in order to optimize its performance.
The Stages in Cash Forecasting Maturity Model
Now, let’s understand how the process of cash forecasting is done across organizations.
1. Laggards – Based on opinions, judgements, experiences from the past. You take last year’s data, apply basic metrics and use for this year
2. Proactive – A group of collaborative deal between many managers/partners of company, could use data coming from local controllers to build forecasts
3. Strategic – Top-down forecasting approach, taking in FP&A data, building distribution rules and building forecasts
4. Best-in-class – Building forecasts bottoms-up from a granular level, costly from a data acquisition and effort perspective to gather the proper rules
Pillar 1: Approach
1. Laggards – Have a very manual process. Often just utilizing what happened last year, and using it as a basis of forecast for this year
2. Proactive – Using the similar process like Laggards, but adding forward looking information, and using this information to make adjustments to incorporate the changes in trajectory of operations of the company (current data)
3. Strategic – Proactive + Using RPA to automate gathering of data from multiple sources.
4. Best-in-class – Utilizing API for connectivity between systems so that it stays up-to-date with the current data available and also using forward-looking information from FP&A, Sales, ERP. No manual effort involved.
Pillar 2: Data Gathering
1. Laggards – Excel-based global approach for all categories, last year’s actuals is used
2. Proactive – Averaging-based approach for all categories, past data representing different periods (1 year, 1 month, etc) is used
3. Strategic – Models of some categories such as AR and AP are based on due dates which might be adjusted, for which ERP and bank data is used
4. Best-in-class – Uses AI for complex categories such as AP and AR, current and past data is used for forecasts
Pillar 3: Modeling
1. Laggards – No/very little variance analysis
2. Proactive – Performed at global level only, and only done for single duration, difficult to do multi-duration analysis
3. Strategic – Performed at entity and cash flow category-level, for single duration only
4. Best-in-class – Performed at entity, region and cash ow category-level, for multiple durations (today’s actual vs forecast done 1 month/3 months/6 months ago)
Pillar 4: Variance Analysis
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HighRadius Cash Forecasting Cloud – an advanced forecasting system – leverages the proven RivanaTM Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform to provide the most accurate cash flow forecasts – right from a ledger account level and rolling up to the organizational level. Delivered as a Software as a Service (SaaS), the solution seamlessly integrates with your company’s ERPs, accounting systems, banks and order management systems. Multiple AI and Machine Learning algorithms process datasets including bank statement inflows/outflows, sales orders/customers invoices, purchase orders/vendor invoices and expense reimbursements for comprehensive as well as accurate cash flow forecasts. The closed-loop, machine learning feedback system ensures that the forecast models become more accurate with time.