Cash forecasting, always important, becomes even more highly critical during times of economic disruption. Here are some key points to consider for an effective process:
1. Use a segmented approach to avoid over forecasting cash inflows. Consider customer segment, size, and seasonality – tax time could drive slower payment behavior for all types of clients.
2. Experiment with data that helps differentiate slower payers, e.g. credit ratings, industry, etc., to inform the forecast and contribute to faster collections.
3. Test solutions that help manage the lag between payments and collections; For example, tying accounts receivable team compensation to timely invoice issuance, offering discounts to slower paying customers for prompt payments, and perhaps requiring a partial upfront deposit from customers who regularly pay late.
4. Organize the forecasting approach and outputs in a consistent manner so that the accuracy of prior forecasts can be assessed. and so that it’s clear where to adjust management’s estimates.
5. For cash outflows, communication across the management team can make or break this process. Especially in a start-up where monthly spend patterns based on history are not available, there is no steady state to rely on. Management team members should regularly discuss and consolidate their outlooks for daily cash receipts and disbursements.
6. Start with prior bank statement activity to come up with typical monthly recurring items.
7. Map key bank statement items to actual expense so that the expense patterns in business plans and budgets can provide context for the cash forecast.
8. Identify cash items already expensed and therefore not in management’s outlook, as well as future capital outlays.
If CFO Consulting Partners can help your organization with additional support and skill sets of experienced accounting and finance professionals, please do not hesitate to contact us.
We hope your families, employees, and colleagues remain safe and healthy during these unprecedented times.