Forecasting Tip #5 – Make friends while you forecast

One person working on their own lacks sufficient information and the perspective to forecast well. Forecast information should be gathered from, and discussed with, as many relevant people as is possible in the time available.

For decent financial forecasts, as a minimum I would be looking to include people from

  • Sales
  • Operations and
  • Finance.

With wider involvement, if I can arrange it, to cover Marketing, even including customers and suppliers.

In my experience, it is often the most experienced people in operations who have the best handle on business volumes. They are used to gauging the optimism of the sales team, and understand how work ebbs and flows through the business.

To get buy-in you should explain to everyone involved why their lives will be better if they embrace the forecasting process. For example, customers will get better service if you understand their plans. An added benefit is that forecasting discussions can form the basis for making further sales.

Involving teams of people will take time and management effort. You will need to plan ahead and put processes in place that can be repeated and learned from.

Improving forecasts is an iterative and ultimately rewarding process. You will not get it right first time but by motivating the participation of the right range of people, your forecasting and control of the business can improve. You will also get a chance to make more friends.

Forecasting Tip #4 – Don’t disappoint
Forecasting Tip #3 – Track your performance
Forecasting Tip #2 – Always forecast a range of outcomes

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