Many years ago I read a story, in which a traveller asks for help finding Dave’s Bar. The local man replies after some thought, “Well, I wouldn’t start from here”.
I have had a number of meetings recently in which the subject of how best to report on financial and business performance has been debated. Traditionally, detailed reports are presented giving chapter and verse on past activity, explaining why the results are what they were, and how the variance between budget and actual is accounted for.
All this is fine, but it leaves me asking the same question, “So what?” You know (I hope) where you want to go, so given where you are now (and it may not be where you wanted or expected to be), how are you going to get to Dave’s Bar?
I suggest that reports should spend no more than 20% on historical analysis, noting key events and any exceptional activities, and the remaining 80% on what you will be doing differently as a result of what has been learned, and what impact these changes will have on your forecast.
By reporting more on the future than the past, and incorporating lessons learnt as you go, you dramatically reduce the chances of being caught out.
This should spell the end of the traditional annual budget, and the start of regular reforecasting. Yes, it’s interesting to know how we got here, but of paramount importance is to know how we are going get from where we are now, to where we want to go, even if it’s only to Dave’s Bar.
July 9th, 2010 |
So you've read what I think - Ed Hart of Your Financial Business Support, otherwise known as YourFBS.
If you'd like to know want I can do for you and your business, take a look at What I Do, email me, or call me on 07913 895798.
Your Financial Business Support Ltd is an approved supplier on the Business Link West Midlands Select Supply database and is also an East Midlands Brokerage Quality Assured Business Link Advisor.