Improved forecasting capabilities “crucial” to finance leaders in 2021

Survey reveals importance of better forecasting and analytics

Improving forecasting and analytics is a top priority for finance teams as they head into 2021, according to a survey by Financial Director. 

The survey, conducted between September and October 2020 in association with Chrome River, found that 52 percent of finance leaders saw improving forecasting and analytics as their main priority for 2021, after maintaining their cash position.

A further 36 percent referenced digital transformation more widely, reflecting the importance of digital tools for finance teams going forward. Meanwhile, just six percent felt mergers and acquisitions would be a priority.

Nick Ludlow, regional vice president of Chrome River says that it is clear digitised processes will be “absolutely crucial” to companies’ success in 2021.

“If companies’ processes are digitised, it means that  their data is quickly accessible, anywhere and at any time. Finance teams can analyse the data more quickly and provide more timely reports. As a result, business leaders can make faster, more informed decisions across the business.” he says.

“Being able to more effectively and rapidly analyse financial data and make more accurate and timely forecasts are probably the most impactful benefits of digitisation. Especially in periods of extreme uncertainty, like now,” Ludlow adds.

While news of a coronavirus vaccine being rolled out in the UK and other countries has spread optimism that we could soon be heading back to a more normal world, the rise in infections saw London and other parts of South East England enter tier three restrictions on Wednesday, December 16.

As a result, there is a “huge” amount of pressure and expectation on finance teams to know where their businesses stand as restrictions keep changing in different regions, says Ludlow.

“CEOs and boards are asking finance teams to accurately read the financial tea leaves. To do this effectively requires a significant level of financial process digitisation.

Ludlow believes digital tools will be pivotal in enabling finance teams to make business decisions with a speed and confidence that wasn’t possible just a few years ago but will be significant in helping firms manage 2021 as the pandemic continues.

“In the past, you might have been able to get access to financial data once a week, more likely once a month but now, it needs to be at finance teams’ fingertips to make decisions. Data needs to be real-time.”