Fixing Forecasting Nightmares

(Late nights in the office, errors, too much detail) Buy this ground breaking 100 page whitepaper

If your forecasting is a nightmare, of long nights, Excel spreadsheet error messages and praying that the resulting numbers are right you need to read this paper.  This white paper sets out the foundation stones of a rolling forecast process and how to move from annual planning to a quarterly rolling planning process. The secrets of rolling planning are revealed at last.  In addition to the white paper you get a comprehensive tool-kit for a fast start including checklists, selling the change presentation, and workshop materials.  To find out more about the white paper and it’s contents. click here 

Re-forecasting the year-end position every month is flawed on a number of counts, it never looks further than year-end, each month the forecast changes creating number noise, the opportunity to set realistic reporting targets for the on-coming quarter is not taken up, the forecast model frequently is based in error prone Excel, and seldom do budget holders buy-in to the forecast as they were not involved in the numbers.

Does this sound familiar? If so, read How to do a rolling forecast and read The Benefits of rolling forecasting for  more information on how to change this.

What is a rolling forecast? What is a rolling plan?

The better practice for rolling forecasting is to perform it bottom up using a quarterly process looking out between 6 – 8 quarters ahead. The quarterly forecasting process is where management sets out the likely revenue and expenditure for the next 18 months.  Each quarter, before approving these estimates, management sees the bigger picture six quarters out. All subsequent forecasts while firming up the short-term numbers for the next three months also update the annual forecast. Budget holders are encouraged to spend half the time on getting the detail of the next three months right, the red zone as shown in exhibit 1.1, as these will become targets, on agreement.  The balance of the time then to be spent forecasting the remaining next five quarters.

Each quarter forecast is never a cold start as they have reviewed the forthcoming quarter a number of times. Provided you have appropriate forecasting software, management can do their forecasts very quickly; one airline even does this in three days!!  The overall time spent in the four quarterly forecasts during a given year is five weeks.

Most organisations can use the cycle set out below if their year-end falls on a calendar quarter end. Some organisations may wish to stagger the cycle say May, August, November, and February.  I will now explain how each forecast works using a June year-end organisation.

How the rolling forecast works

Exhibit 1.1 How the rolling forecast works for an organisation (June year-end)

Health crisis leaves David Parmenter land locked for the foreseeable future

My wife is undergoing Chemo, with a positive outcome forecast.  However, I have ceased travel for the foreseeable future and am focusing on helping interested parties through the following:

David Parmenter’s Toolkits with E-Templates

If you want to access the latest thoughts of David Parmenter, buy his toolkits which are constantly updated and are a comprehensive (100 page) guide to get you to make change in the areas covered.  each toolkit comes with accompanying electronic templates to get your implementation started.  On time of acquisition David reviews and updates the toolkit as appropriate. These toolkits are printed, signed and posted to the purchaser.

David Parmenter’s Working Guides

For areas which are not covered by a toolkit David Parmenter has written a shorter (20- 30 pages) working guide to help you make progress.  They can be read and absorbed in an hour. All you need to do is purchase them via the paypal link and I will send you the working guides are emailed with accompanying useful E-templates with 48 hours. To buy multiple guides access the special deal.

David Parmenter’s Pay-To-View Webinars

You can purchase David’s Forecasting and Planning in the 21st century webinar series recorded by leading accounting professional bodies.  There are three webinars, each of 90 minutes long and there are some electronic templates downloadable from this website.  You purchase directly from the relevant professional body and follow instructions, at the end of the webinar, to download the templates from my website using the disclosed password.

E-Templates From David Parmenter’s Best Selling The Financial Controller and CFO’s Toolkit Book

You can purchase all the electronic versions of the book templates. Once the paypal notification has been received the templates are emailed with 48 hours.

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The time is right for QRF and QRP

The time is right for quarterly rolling forecasting and quarterly rolling planning as the standard annual planning process:

  • takes too long,
  • is too costly
  • is not focused on performance drivers,
  • is not linked to strategic outcomes or ‘critical success factors’,
  • leads to dysfunctional behaviour, building silos and barriers to success
  • undermines monthly reporting (monthly budgets are poor targets)
  • is not appropriate for a dynamic company in a rapidly changing environment

The answer is to “throw away the annual budget and its associated processes, smart organisations do not do an annual planning process anymore”. These smart organisations have moved to using quarterly rolling planning.


David Parmenter

Forecasting & Planning Papers

How to Implement a Planning Tool and Get It Right First Time
Why you need a planning tool and how to sell the concept to the senior management team

IBM have commissioned me to write two papers which are available on their website for free.