Grafton Group was faced with a companywide cash flow forecasting challenge:
They required a means to consolidate weekly and monthly cash forecast figures across multiple subsidiary business units.
The solution needed to standardise & automate forecasting in order to provide accurate and timely cash flow projections, together with the ability to store historic actuals for trend analysis.
With the above in mind, Dataconversion set about developing a centrally managed web-based solution for the client.
Prior to the introduction of the online system Grafton Groups forecasting system was largely a manual one, involving dissemination, collection and collation of individual Excel spreadsheets.
Moving to a centrally managed web-based solution brought all the advantages that one might expect to get from such a system:
- Users now submit their forecasts online thus removing the reliance on native Excel files. From here data is written directly to a database from which a suite of custom managerial reports provides instant access to the data.
- Automatic system reminders and notifications have been included to remove the burden of administering these tasks from the Finance/Treasury department.
- Automated rollover functions (whereby the online submission form can be auto-populated with data from previous submissions and auto-submitted if required) streamline operations from an end-user point of view. This feature also enables the financial management team to cater for subsidiary companies with differing reporting schedules.
The key project deliverables included the following:
- Online Web Portal
- Administration / configuration screens
- A central database to store data
- Consolidated view for the group accountants
- Ability to aggregate data sets across weekly and monthly views
The implementation of the above-mentioned system benefited Grafton Group in a number of ways:
The excessive time spent amending and resending Excel templates when reporting requirements changed has now been eliminated. With the new system, administrators can add, edit and remove specific categories of income and expenditure under which forecasting values are collected.
Time is no longer spent collating the figures from all the individual spreadsheets into a consolidated view. This is now done automatically in the new system, providing weekly and monthly cash flow positions and forecasts.
Errors resulting from users amending the structure and content of the Excel files is no longer possible with the new system.
Full validation of forecasting data takes place prior to it being submitted. This removes the requirement for any validation of data by the Finance department after it has been received.
Reports are immediately available online to authorised users in a number of formats. Therefore there is no longer a need to generate and disseminate files manually (e.g. by email or FTP etc.).
Subsidiary companies are actively encouraged via system notifications to submit their forecasts by monthly/weekly cut off times, which ensures that all forecast information is collected and can be reported on in a timely manner.