How confident are you in your plans?

Author: Malcolm Brock

 

Despite all the uncertainty of Brexit and the upcoming UK general election, the ICAEW UK Confidence Monitor (BCM) published last week headlines that business confidence in the UK has increased from -8.7 in Q1 to 6.7 in Q2.

Some good news then when all seems to be gloom and doom! But, and there is a but, businesses are saying they're not making or putting in place long term plans and are likely holding off until after the election when the new Government’s plans for tax and investment are much clearer.

Is this the right move? I don’t think so, and I'm sure many businesses would agree but planning now would require multiple plans based on multiple scenarios and I suspect they do not have the technology to do this efficiently and effectively. They would also have to be agile to change as the current climate is very fluid. You just cannot do this in spreadsheets, which is still what the majority of companies use.

Let's look at some of the key points from the ICAEW press release:

  • GDP growth for the second quarter is forecast at +0.5%
  • Input costs are rising at more than double the pace of last year – the increase is the fastest since Q3 2012
  • Businesses are seeking to control overall cost rises by holding wage growth to a rate below inflation
  • Companies forecast increased profit growth, which reflects improved domestic sales expectations and their ability to raise prices
  • Research & Development growth will remain modest, with firms instead projecting a rise in their capital expenditure growth.

Can you include factors like these in your plans and forecasts, and flex them every time there is a change or even see what a range of values would deliver in terms of likely outcomes?

To do this you do need the right tools for the job and whilst these were once were expensive and difficult to implement, times have significantly changed with the advent of software as a service (SaaS) becoming the mainstream delivery mechanism for enterprise software solutions. My experience is we have helped organisations, both small and large, to implement planning and forecasting solutions in the cloud in a few weeks. These solutions have enabled them to use macro and micro factors to drive their plans with the agility to make and drive change as their markets demands.

So, could you have a new planning and forecasting solution up and running before the election?  Well we have implemented in 6 weeks so not quite, but if you want to try we would be very happy to rise to the challenge! You could certainly be taking your summer holiday more relaxed in the knowledge that you planning and forecasting will be better and easier on your return.