As the global pandemic of COVID-19 wreaks chaos on the world’s economy, businesses are finding themselves in a state of flux. It’s no longer practical to stay on course with financial plans set out before the start of 2020. The reverse is more appropriate and we’re seeing executives adapting financial plans in order to navigate through these testing times.

But how should businesses assess the many possibilities, and implement the right plans to provide an agile and long term solution?

Scenario planning is a technique used to identify future uncertainties and develop suitable action plans in response to such changes. Enabling alternate futures to be considered, businesses can make assumptions about market changes, and how their business environment will change over time in the light of different sets of assumptions. Businesses who create plans based on multiple scenarios are unquestionably best placed to give confidence to the future viability of the business to the board.

Creating multiple scenarios sounds simple doesn’t it? Except many companies try to do this using Excel Spreadsheets, that, as we all know, have no audit trail or effective workflows for collaborative working, and are highly prone to errors.

Multiple scenarios have to consider variances that are numerous and far reaching. Each option may require you to build hundreds of models of your business, and then compare them, in order to distil them down to a manageable number of coherent templates. Each scenario needs to contain enough detail about the likelihood of success or failure of different strategies. Which makes this a time consuming, as well as a daunting task.

An agile financial planning solution empowers businesses to create and refine new scenarios in hours, rather than days or weeks. You can compare the outcomes in seconds, refine the options, and present the best viable scenarios, and guide your organisation towards a successful long term future. Effective scenario planning allows businesses to avoid increased costs, increased risks, and opens up new opportunities with foresights that hadn’t previously been considered.

If you could build 100 different models of your business over 2 days, how would your board respond to receiving well-considered, meaningful and compelling scenarios?

One of our clients has done this. Their Board was reassured that there were solid contingency plans in place to protect the business and take it forward. They were so delighted that they gave the finance team a commendation.

Given the vast impacts we’re seeing to all businesses as a result of COVID-19, whether this be an increase or drop in key financial factors around customer demand, market share, or production technologies, we recommend you present your Board with 5 fully developed scenarios. Then they are equipped to build a business that is suitably agile, now and into the future.

Financial planning solutions that work in an Excel style environment (but without the issues experienced with spreadsheets) give businesses the best possible outcome for Scenario Planning. We have been helping businesses produce side by side comparisons of scenarios for many years and we have experts who can provide you with free advice and guidance. If you would like a free consultation with one of our experts, we would like to help so please get in touch.

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