Many organizations have just completed their First Quarter, and should be asking themselves several key questions:
- What Were Our Actual Results?
- How Do They Compare to Last Year and Our Budget?
- Did We Make Money?
- What Was Our Cash Flow?
- Are We On Course?
- Are We Making Progress on Our Objectives?
If these questions can’t be answered accurately, your organization may be off course, and drifting.
To determine your position, progress to date, and course, you must have accurate and timely reports including, at a minimum, an Income Statement, Cash Flow Statement, and Balance Sheet. These reports will provide most of the information necessary to answer these questions, and should be carefully reviewed to identify where your organization is presently, and any changes in conditions that may be affecting your performance and course.
Other, related reports will also be of benefit, including Sales by Customer, Productivity Measures, and Accounts Receivable and Inventory aging, among others. The key is to get as much detail as possible to identify significant variances from either the prior year, or budget, and the root cause(s) of the variation so that appropriate action can be taken to get back on course. At the same time, these reports will also help to identify trends, and potential issues that may require action in the future.
Finally, assuming that specific objectives have been set for the year, the progress on each one should be reviewed, in detail, to insure that determine if you are on course.
Successful organizations also prepare forecasts of their results for the next quarter. This will help identify potential operating and cash flow issues, in advance, so timely action can be taken, if necessary, to keep that organization on course, and under control.
The bottom line is that organizations must have accurate, timely information and a regular review process in place, to properly manage and control operations, identify position, progress, and course deviations that may require action, as needed, to keep the organization sailing toward its destination.
“Keep your hand on the helm.” – Matthew Goldman
“Sailing requires the management of all the systems on the boat, plus all the controls on the boat, while assessing the weather and navigation. It’s planning everything to a fine level of detail and making the required adjustments all at the same time things are changing” – Unknown