5 steps to success with Futrli : Step 4 – Building a forecast
What does the next 12 months look like? An introduction to forecasting & the power of a Dashboard that looks ahead
Written by Hannah Dawson
Building a forecast
In Step 4 we’ll deal with how to create a forecast. Your final step 5 is so easy you are 100 yards from the finish line after completing this step 4…
You’ll get a feel Forecasts and how easy it is to create one, by using ‘Last Year’s Actuals‘ version, which is so easy you’ll be looking at your forecast in mere seconds. Ready?
Head to the “Forecasts” area on the menu on the left of the screen
Find your organisation, and hit “New”
Enter the “Settings” – you can change the tax settings later, so just find and match your account’s payable, accounts receivable and your main bank account – Hit save
Select “New” again, and then click, “Last year’s Actuals” and “Quick create”, enter a name and click “Build”
Now you have a 2-year forecast based on last years actuals, which means that if you change nothing in the business, and repeat the same Revenue and Expenditure patterns that have happened over the previous 12 months, this is what the effect on your current cash will be. Focus on the bank (cash) line on the chart.
You have just given yourself huge insight into your business’ future in a few seconds. Now of course, you’re not going to take this forecast to the bank, but it’s a great illustration of how easy it can be to create your forecast.
Now you’ve mastered the basics…
Let’s create another forecast.
Exit the forecast by pressing the “Back” button, click “New” again and this time we’ll select to create from Last Year’s Actuals, but rather than “Quick Create” we’ll select “Advanced Create”.
- Enter a name
- Toggle the “Every account category” off, as above
- Enter the number that appeared in your average figure for customer payment days, in the credit terms for Income (200 in this image)
- Then, in the two fields below, enter the number of days it takes you to pay your suppliers. These are separated into Cost of Sales (the expenses you have to pay for that create the items you sell) and Expenses (anything else that you have to pay for to keep the business running). Hit the “Build” button at the bottom of the screen.
Your cash graph will now be different than the first one (and more realistic). If your Revenue credit terms are longer than your expenditure credit terms, you are going to run out of cash, so be honest, it’s better to know. We cover how to build a real forecast in these guides, but let’s stick with the dashboard we’ve been building for now.
Head back to your Board.
Note: When you do go back to your boards, the first board we gave you may well be there in place of board you’ve been using. You can find your board, by looking in My Boards or by using the search facility as seen below:
What does the end of the year look like?
The power of Futrli is the combination of today and tomorrow in one place. We now have 2 scenarios for us play with.
Add another Report
Rename it “End of Year” with the sub-heading “What does it look like?”
in the “settings” tab select to use Forecast & Actual data, and in the date section select Last calendar month & the following 11 months
In the Report tab “Income” is already present, now click on “New Formula” and when the box appears, use the search field and start to type “Net Income” (select it when it appears in the search, then click “OK” to add it) and do the same for “Net Cashflow”.
Next, search for the “Bank Accounts (category)” and select it. This will bring up a further data selection box. From the drop-down select “Cumulative”, and when selected choose the following to get the cumulated revenue picture from the start of the report.
Below is a quick illustration of how you can change the way you display your results. Simply click the “Chart Options” icon, and select your chosen graph or chart type.
Under the “Columns” tab, you can select some of the more advanced information you might want to see in your chart, depending on what internal KPIs you want to measure in an individual chart. When you’re happy, you can click “Done” and flip the card around.
Interpreting the results
Now you play with the data.
All 5 metrics will be on your chart. You can select ‘Presentation Mode’ from the top menu and see your card in more detail.
Hit the “Bank account”, “Net Income” and “Net Cash Flow” legends under the chart. This will give you a clear picture of your predicted revenue. The first month is actual data and this month onwards is forecast data. You now have an overview of your predicted turnover total for the next 12 months. This report can be made even better by making the start date of the report the first month in this financial year, and then you get your predicted year-end for this financial year (do this by choosing “custom” where you have selected “last month” and pin the date to the end of said month, e.g. choose the 31st March not the 1st March).
The best companies in the world have a hockey stick curve in the cumulative income line, something we are all gunning for!
#KPI 2 Net Income
How much profit are you going to make? This won’t ensure the success of your business, but it’s a hugely important KPI for you to forecast. Profit breakeven if you aren’t there yet, is your first milestone to try to smash.
#KPI 3 Net Cashflow
Time to change the chart type. Flip the card over (by hitting the cog in the top right) and in the Report tab, use the chart icon to change the chart to a Bar. This is great for really highlighting KPIs that you do not want to to be below 0. Net cash flow breakeven and it’s pattern into the future, is probably the most important metric to have a handle on for any new business. If it is sub-zero for periods on end, cash may become an issue, so it’s good to be prepared.
While this is not necessarily an accurate forecast, it’s a good start in highlighting potential successes or areas of concern. It’s no good being profitable if in fact you have a lot of expenditure on your Balance Sheet, such as equipment or loan servicing, which doesn’t appear in your P&L.
Xero, QBO and other cloud-based accounting software will be too P&L focussed for budgeting and don’t take things like GST/VAT into consideration. Understandably, you’ll want to know if you have $50,000 in GST to pay next month that you haven’t put aside.
Monitoring your cash and creating a forecast that is updated every week, can provide you with peace of mind over your medium, and long-term financial future. Even if you have some tricky months ahead, a forecast can help you build the plan to get your business back on track.
Every business should be working like this: it’s not traditional, but now technology such as Futrli can do the heavy lifting.