Less than a year ago my colleague Puck Quarles van Ufford and I co-wrote a blog about Cash Flow Prediction in Tableau. I would never have imagined that this would be such a pressing issue today. Several of our customers struggle with their steady stream of income during this time of crisis. Everyone is hit more or less. I recently read that COVID-19 is likely to claim more victims in bankruptcies than in the medical sense. All industries feel the consequences (not to mention the cultural sector). We receive requests from various customers for better insight into cash flow. An interesting article about this came along via social media, which is about managing working capital in times like these.
In a time of crisis like this one may tend to freeze. Sit still when being shaved. Unfortunately business automation is still considered to be a luxury, but I believe today it is a core process. Data is the new gold and every company is (also) an IT-company. This week I came across an interesting article by the American magazine CIO that argues for anti-cyclical investment. But why should we do that right now in this unreal bad movie of the current crisis? I think for a number of reasons:
First of all, we have time. Although certain processes in the company have become less efficient and working from home (especially with small children) is sometimes a challenge, we also have more time. We no longer have any travel time. Meetings are generally shorter, more efficient and less frequent through online resources. Much more can be discussed one-to-one. In addition, we can currently just do less in operations due to physical absence. For example, optimizing the logistics process in the warehouse will have to wait.
Secondly, this is an excellent opportunity to save costs precisely through automation and thus add extra room in the cash flow. The investment of this automation of processes and information provisioning can be quickly recouped if it has a direct effect on its efficiency.
Thirdly, the importance of accurate and timely information provision is now even greater. We miss the conversation at the coffee machine. There is no longer an informal mingle in the corridors. You are now no longer overhearing anything from the receptionist. The importance of good and timely Business Intelligence is now substantially stronger.
We, as Cadran, have invested last week in a very thorough solution to gain particularly good insight into our current cash flow position, but also in an intelligent prediction of this in the (near) future. We (of course) use Tableau for this, because this offers us the most possibilities, but the tool is not the means and is secondary to the insight that is necessary. I would say: feel free to use Excel if it does it for you (or would I have advised against this recently?). The interactive dashboard we use is below (containing fictional data).
In addition to the visualizations, Tableau also offers us additional possibilities with R scripting, so that we can provide the forecast of the cash flow in addition to linear regressions with deeper intelligence on, for example, the probability of income in the future. Securing and predicting our cash flow is currently of vital importance. These are investments for us now, which can make a difference in the short term.
Finally, a small side step, but as we are talking about Tableau, this company is committed to helping to understand the current pandemic. Fed by data from all over the world, this is an excellent medium that can portray the Corona crisis. Take a look: https://www.tableau.com/covid-19-coronavirus-data-resources
Rick is a Senior BI Consultant at Cadran Analytics. He spends his time on Tableau and Oracle BI.