For corporate treasurers, cash flow forecasting continues to remain spreadsheet-based in most enterprise organisations.
But with innovative new forecasting technology coming to the fore, can this new breed of tech unsettle the dominance of MS Excel and help treasury and finance professionals overcome the problem of inaccurate data?
We’d like to think so.
Accuracy, control, and efficiency are key drivers in today’s business environment. The cash flow forecasting process is no different.
Knowing what cash you will have available in the future – as well as being able to control it and later optimise it – is the first step in identifying potential cash shortfalls and improving how you use surplus cash.
It can also help drive down dependency on financing, by providing relevant and timely information on whether your organisation will have sufficient liquidity to meet its obligations.
Surely then, if you’re responsible for cash and liquidity management and you’re finding existing cash forecasting technology tactics ineffective within an organisation, looking at under-performing processes is of utmost importance.
“We’ve always done it that way”
Treasury & Finance Professionals
Powerful, familiar, and flexible. It’s easy to understand why MS Excel is the lingua franca for treasury and finance professionals when it comes to cash flow forecasting.
With user-friendly features and nominal additional expenditure, other than your standard business operational software licence, it’s convenient, too.
However, for large enterprise organisations that rely on cash flow forecasts to plan investment strategies and complex business decisions, it could be a potential liability.
Here are four reasons why you should consider alternatives to spreadsheets for your cash flow forecasting requirements.
REASON #1 – Time, Time, and More Time
Manual processes, data gathering, and administrative responsibilities. Words that are sure to strike fear in the hearts of any corporate treasurer.
Corporate treasurers and senior finance professionals have traditionally accepted these everyday tasks as part and parcel of being in the industry. Used to capture, track and reconcile data for years, spreadsheets have grown so complex, intertwined, and widely used that treasury and finance professionals cannot figure out an alternative method for cash flow forecasting.
For corporates with various banking relationships, multiple accounts across different banks, and across multiple regions, this means almost half of their treasury analyst’s time can be spent on reconciling bank statements alone.
Whilst many would argue that there is a clear diagnosis for having a Treasury Management System (TMS), there’s just not enough in the budget to make it a worthwhile financial investment.
BUT just because a TMS is not a viable option, doesn’t mean automation is out of reach. There are other tactics, solutions, and improvements that can be made to achieve similar, if not better results – and at a fraction of the cost.
REASON #2 – Supplementing with a TMS is Expensive
We recognise that implementing a TMS – while an expensive solution – nirvana for many finance and treasury professionals. Spreadsheets often don’t cut it, and so jumping on the TMS bandwagon can seem appealing.
However, there’s more to treasury software than a TMS, and desired outcomes can be achieved far more cheaply than you would imagine.
This is partly down to technological advancement and partly a reflection of the broad range of treasury and finance software now available in the market. Today, you can meet the treasury and finance function’s unique needs with scalable, flexible treasury applications that you can purchase and implement, based on your timeline and resources.
Achieving your desired automation goals and specific treasury requirements no longer requires an extensive budget – all you need to understand is what treasury pain points you want to solve, identify the tools that can solve this for you, and then build a business case to justify the move from spreadsheets.
REASON #3 – Errors and Mistakes in Spreadsheets Carry Over Into Forecasting
When it comes to cash forecasting, spreadsheet errors can cause major problems for treasury and finance professionals – and using them continually is a risky decision for several reasons.
In fact, as reported by Forbes, “various studies report that nearly 9 out of 10 spreadsheets (88%) contain errors” – a startling statistic that largely boils down to human errors and tiresome manual processes.
From simple errors in the data with incorrect or missing information to more complex formula and macro-level faults; applying a flawed spreadsheet in a treasury or finance function can bring about operational risks, which could lead to severe consequences.
Strategic decisions are made based on what you disclose in these spreadsheets, and any fault or mistake could result in stakeholders losing trust with your treasury and finance function.
Not only this, but the risk of errors is likely to increase further once you’ve identified that your spreadsheet is corrupted. As you start to decode and decipher the spreadsheet to find the root cause of your problem (a mammoth task that your treasury or finance team simply doesn’t have the time for), you’re likely to find that there is more to the situation than meets the eye.
REASON #4 – Security is Everything
There’s no doubt that spreadsheets are convenient forecasting tools. And although tools like MS Excel and Google Sheets are very good at what they’re designed to do – they are not necessarily secure as pieces of forecasting technology.
Internal and external fraud, cyber security, information security, and data privacy are major concerns for enterprise organisations in today’s digital, data-driven world. Spreadsheets lack the most basic security mechanisms and have limited authentication measures (or none at all), features that are included in most leading treasury applications.
Then there are other security problems. Particularly in terms of untraceable, multiple copies of spreadsheets; anyone with access can create a copy and email it to themselves.
Data encryption, multi-factor authentication, sophisticated user access controls, and IP filtering are just some of the sophisticated security features that leading treasury applications invest in to thwart and eliminate rogue or illicit activity.
The Alternative: AccessPay’s Cash Management Solution for Cash Forecasting
When it comes to cash forecasting – regardless of whether you’re a CFO, FD, corporate treasurer or member of a Group Finance Function – you need to be able to see, control, and optimise your global cash position.
Without accurate visibility across your subsidiaries, your banking operations will be permanently stunted by archaic, inaccurate data.
AccessPay’s pure-cloud solution is the remedy to this situation. By granting accurate cash visibility across your entire business, you’ll not only have hours more time each day to strategise and work towards the completion of mission-critical tasks, but you may also uncover millions in hidden cash.