How to be a pro at budgeting and forecasting (with Write-Back)

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There’s a wide consensus nowadays that levels of uncertainty are high as they have ever been.  And precise company analyses are crucial in order to mitigate surprises that may hurt the continuity of the business. Accepted, you can make a big set of analyses but today we’re talking about budgeting, forecasting and how Write-Back can help simplify the way you do it.

First of all, it’s important to say that the process needs to be broken down into three steps: planning, budgeting and forecasting.

Before proceeding with budgeting, you must design your plan, what your company wants to achieve and your financial objectives along a timeline (normally between three and five years).

After this, you can start working out your budget and detailing this plan across the months of your company’s year (fiscal or calendar). Sales, revenues, expenses, costs, cash flows, etc. will be covered in your budget. As time goes by and you analyse the actual indicators, if they seem to be way out or exceed your budget, you may need to adjust.

For forecasting, you can use historical data to build predictive models of your revenue, and how much you expect to achieve in the coming months or years. As we said, we’re using historical data, so every time you accrue new data, you have to adjust your models to be more precise. Of course, you can compare your budget with your forecast and take decisions on what adjustments to make. But our question is how Write-Back can help with this process. We show you here:

Partially ditch Excel

Who doesn’t use Excel to build budgets/forecasts? Yes, we all do. But when you’re using Tableau, you can’t access data immediately using Excel, because after updating the files you’ll have to wait for the database refresh. Or you may need to refresh it manually if you want the new data available immediately. This is something that the people who work on the budgeting/forecasting don’t have the access to or permission to do.

With Write-Back, those people can create or update data directly in Tableau, access it, make analyses and use them to inform decisions at the same time. All of this is stored in a data set that is yours, and to which end users can access and do changes by Tableau. By being in the same dataset the budget/forecast analysis can be even faster, adjustments can be more precise and… guess what, although we believe you won’t feel the need, in the end, you can export everything to Excel.

Forecast like a magician

When you forecast, normally you must assume different scenarios to achieve some safety when you predict what you think is going to happen. Doing this well really may help you survive. On Write-Back you can build the scenarios you want, in the same data set or in different data sets if you need to. You can change your data set daily or hourly, or whenever your end-user needs, instead of waiting for data refreshes. This gives the flexibility to adjust the various “what if” scenarios in time depending on daily threats or opportunities.

What happened?

How many times does something not fit right? Where are those thousand sales last month? Why did client X’s revenue disappear? Ah, he’s cancelled his order! Why didn’t I know that? Because someone didn’t post a comment and on Excel or databases you can’t specify a column as a mandatory field when filling in or updating data.

Write-Back works like a form, and you can build it however you want. This means you can choose which fields you want on your form, their format and if they have conditions or are mandatory or not. When you build your own form you can make the comment column mandatory to oblige your users to fill it in every time something changes and provide a history of events. This gives you the ability to chasing what’s happening better instead of spending hours to find out why something went wrong, calling people for explanations or find out who made the changes. Moreover, with comments, you know what happened or can investigate why it happened and what to do to prevent it again.

Final thoughts

The world is always changing, as are companies. Nothing tells us to stay heading in the same direction and data is an end that is also fast changing every day.

New tools, technologies, processes and approaches keep rising year on year, but with Write-Back, we know it's something to prevail with our clients.

We change every day too, to make this add-on even better and more agile for you and the users of your company. We invite you to give it a try and talk it over with us if you have any doubts. You’ll see how building your budgets and forecasting could be much easier. And don’t forget planning, because in the Write-Back dataset you can add your objectives so that in your dashboards you can compare your budgets versus forecasts and finally against what you envisioned.