James Kipling, Product Manager, Quantrix
Spreadsheets are used by nearly every organization in the world. Some estimates suggest that 98% of businesses, including banks, use an Excel document at some point every single day – for tasks from the mundane such as petty case management, all the way through to business-critical functions such as budgeting, forecasting and regular financial analysis.
It’s common knowledge that the world is run on spreadsheets. But, is the world’s most ubiquitous financial planning tool really the right one for your organization?
For banks and businesses alike, building for long-term growth and success requires the right preparation, planning, and forecasting.It’s a simple concept, but every hour spent planning and preparing for growth now could end up saving 20 times that investment in future – meaning your business could be in a far better position to respond to any future market or regulatory changes. And using the right tools to get this planning right is critical for your organization.
The challenge for fast-growing businesses
For fast-growing businesses, banks and financial services organizations, the problem can be magnified. With so much going on requiring immediate attention, it can be a real challenge to see past the short term, let alone plan for scenarios that are several years in the future. Planning ahead can be a low on the list of priorities – so when a gap in the calendar does arise, it’s easy to just open an Excel document and plough ahead. After all time is short.
In the most successful companies, forecasting is the primary driver that guides strategic decision making across the business. With this in mind, its essential that forecast models are built with up-to-date and reliable data, encompass the full spectrum of possible scenarios and can be integrated with the rest of the business. This in turn, will help demonstrate the full ‘cause and effect’ of any scenario changes as they ripple through the organization. Banks today also sit on a wealth of customer data, and will need to ensure this is integrated with the rest of the business to ensure their forecasting is as accurate as possible.
With so much data available, it’s no surprise that spreadsheets are becoming increasingly complex and cumbersome.
At Quantrix, we regularly speak with banks and forward-looking organizations that are looking for a different approach. Many have found themselves in some rather unforgiving ruts: with monolithic, inflexible spreadsheets dominating the entirety of their processes, wasting vital time, money, resources, and patience.
The rise of ‘big data’ has only added to this problem. As businesses look to increase the speed and efficiency in how they analyze trends in customer and financial data, there’s often temptation to analyze historical trends using every bit of data available, using the latest and greatest business intelligence tools.In practice, the businesses with superior forecasting abilities are those that will truly thrive in an increasingly competitive market.Forecasting isn’t about having all the data. It’s about having the right data. Which is where many organizations today are falling short.
Back to the future
That spreadsheet we discussed earlier, pulled together in a rush by a time-short executive during the early phases of creating a new business, is likely to still be in use. Not only that– the spreadsheet is likely to have grown in size and complexity in tandem with the business. Originally intended to be used for basic forecasting in a start-up’s early years, workbooks like these can evolve into a large team effort, spanning different cities, time-zones and even countries as the business grows.This then becomes the go-to tool for both business analysts and the finance department.But all too often we see scenarios where multiple-versions of the spreadsheet are distributed, introducing risks and room for error to occur.
When multiple versions of a spreadsheet need to be compared, contrasted and edited to create a true ‘master file’, the integrity of data will always be in doubt. It’s also a very inefficient and time-consuming way to work. If spreadsheet versions aren’t consistently maintained, all it takes is one incorrect version being circulated for errors to start to appear. If an error is ever noticed, the lack of controls provided by typical spreadsheet software today makes it hard to determine when and where in the process any critical changes, or errors, occurred. ‘Big data’ only further adds to this minefield.
Traditional spreadsheet limitations
Traditional spreadsheets have attempted to solve problems with collaboration, but solutions such as ‘cell protection’ can make models inflexible, hard to edit, and also remove the capacity for ‘self-service modelling’, decreasing employee efficiency and productivity.
Single spreadsheets can become integral to the running of a business almost overnight and it can subsequently be very difficult for organizations to reign back their use.
Technology continues to evolve at breakneck speed, and it’s up to businesses to make sure they keep up in all aspects. Just as a paper filing system isn’t suitable for managing sensitive customer records, and Microsoft Paint isn’t the right tool for even the most talented graphic designer, the same applies to spreadsheets. Whether you are a bank, business or a financial institution, organizations today must use the most relevant technology to meet their needs which might even mean giving up traditional spreadsheets.
It sounds obvious, but using the right tools for the right job will ensure that efficiency time-drains such as formula writing, error checking and auditing are all alleviated through the use of professional features such as natural language formula writing, a built-in audit trail and a visual dependency inspector.
To truly succeed in a fast-growing environment, banks and businesses should look to implement collaborative, multi-dimensional modelling technology to enhance their financial planning and forecasting capabilities.When you’re spending thousands of pounds on capturing and analyzing data, it’s too costly to have a spreadsheet let you down. The future of your business could depend on it.
KPMG UK to split roles of chair and chief executive
(Reuters) – KPMG UK said on Thursday it will split the roles of chair and chief executive, adding it will hold an election process for the CEO position.
KMPG said Bina Mehta would remain non-executive chair of the UK board for the next 12 months and would oversee the CEO election process, which it plans to begin this month and conclude by the end of April.
The elected chief executive will serve until the end of September 2025, the company said. Mary O’Connor, head of clients and markets, will remain as CEO while the election is conducted.
Mehta and O’Connor were appointed to the temporary positions earlier this month when former UK chair Bill Michael resigned after an investigation was launched into reported comments to staff that they should “stop moaning” about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their lives.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; editing by Jane Wardell)
Tesla’s Musk says U.S. factory closed for two days due to parts shortages
(Reuters) – Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said the electric vehicle company’s Fremont, California plant shut down for two days this week due to “parts shortages” and had reopened on Wednesday.
Shares of Tesla fell 8% during the day after Bloomberg reported that production of Tesla’s less expensive sedan, the Model 3, had been temporarily suspended, raising questions about whether it had enough supplies to keep the assembly line moving.
Several automakers, including General Motors Co, Volkswagen AG, and Ford Motor Co, are hit by the shortage of chips, forcing them to scale down production.
“Fremont shut down for two days (parts shortages) & restarted yesterday,” Musk said in a Twitter posting.
A person with knowledge of the situation told Reuters that at least some workers had been told they could take off Wednesday and Thursday, while another person said some employee parking lots appeared to have fewer people than usual on Thursday.
Electric vehicle news source Electrek quoted Musk as telling employees that production of Model 3 and the Model Y small SUV would speed up to full production over the next few days.
“We are experiencing some parts supply issues, so we took the opportunity to bring Fremont down for a few days to do equipment upgrades and maintenance,” Musk said in an employee email, according to Electrek.
Musk also said that the company was scaling up production of its more expensive Model S and Model X lines, which would soon go back to two shifts, he said, according to Electrek.
The company could not be immediately reached for comment.
Tesla said last month that it might face a temporary impact from a global semiconductor shortage and logistics disruptions at ports.
“This is an industrywide problem rather than anything Tesla-specific. But this episode provides a very useful reminder that EV manufacturing is subject to periodic supply chain bottlenecks, whether related to chips, or batteries, or other components,” Raymond James analyst Pavel Molchanov said by email.
Samsung Electronics, which supplies chips that control self-driving capabilities to Tesla, last week said it had suspended its factory in Austin, Texas as a winter storm caused power outages. The Tesla chips are made in the Texas factory, the automaker said two years ago.
Samsung declined to identify its customers for the factory.
It was unclear how much volume or revenue Tesla would lose due to the production halt. The Fremont plant has an annual production capacity of 500,000 Model 3s and Model Ys combined.
Tesla last week reduced the price of its cheaper variants of the Model 3 and the Model Y, the latest in a series of price cuts at a time when legacy automakers are trying to fight back with new models.
(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin in San Francisco and Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel, Peter Henderson and Sam Holmes)
Boeing, hit with $6.6 million FAA fine, faces much bigger 787 repair bill – sources
By Eric M. Johnson and David Shepardson
SEATTLE/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Boeing Co will pay a $6.6 million to U.S. regulators as part of a settlement over quality and safety-oversight lapses going back years, a setback that comes as Boeing wrestles with repairs to flawed 787 Dreamliner jets that could dwarf the cost of the federal penalty.
Boeing is beginning painstaking repairs and forensic inspections to fix structural integrity flaws embedded deep inside at least 88 parked 787s built over the last year or so, a third industry source said.
The inspections and retrofits could take weeks or even up to a month per plane and are likely to cost hundreds of millions – if not billions – of dollars, depending to a large degree on the number of planes and defects involved, the person said.
The Federal Aviation Administration said Boeing had agreed to pay $6.6 million in penalties after the aviation regulator said it failed to comply with a 2015 safety agreement.
The penalties include $5.4 million for not complying with the agreement in which Boeing pledged to change its internal processes to improve and prioritize regulatory compliance and $1.21 million to settle two pending FAA enforcement cases.
“Boeing failed to meet all of its obligations under the settlement agreement, and the FAA is holding Boeing accountable by imposing additional penalties,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in a statement. Boeing, which paid $12 million in 2015 as part of the settlement, did not immediately comment.
Boeing engineers are working to determine the scope of inspections, including whether jets can be used as-is without a threat to safety, two people said. Boeing has not told airlines how many jets are impacted, another person said.
The FAA has been investigating instances of oversight lapses, debris left inside finished aircraft, and managers putting pressure on employees handling safety checks for the FAA, people familiar with the proceedings said.
For example, in August 2020, Boeing told to the FAA about the flaw involving structural wrinkling in the interior fuselage skin where carbon-composite barrels that form the plane’s lightweight body are melded together.
But the defect went unnoticed for months or longer because computerized safeguards that crunch data looking for quality flaws had not been programmed to look for the gaps, a third industry source said.
The 787 production problems have halted deliveries of the jet since the end of October, locking up a source of desperately needed cash for Boeing.
The fuel-efficient 787 has been a huge success with airlines, which have ordered 1,882 of the advanced twin-aisle jet worth nearly $150 billion (74.7 billion pounds) at list prices.
But the advanced production process and sprawling global supply chain caused problems over the years.
As of February, Boeing had fixed the 787 production process causing the wrinkling defect, according to two people familiar with the matter.
However, planes rolled off the assembly line with the flaw for more than a year, at least, continuing even after the flaw was discovered in August 2020.
“It’s difficult to see a definitive fix that is agreeable by the aviation authorities and all going forward,” Boeing customer Air Lease Corp’s CEO John Plueger told analysts on an earnings call Feb 22. “I don’t think that we’re there yet.”
Boeing has been working on the fuselage problem, and two additional potentially hazardous defects that arose since 2019, as it charted plans to consolidate final assembly of the 787 in South Carolina starting next month, at a sharply reduced rate of 5 787s per month.
One senior supply chain source said they will have to cut rate again.
Boeing said last month it expects to resume handing over a small number of 787s to customers later this quarter.
It has an ambitious internal plan to deliver 100 of the jets this year, one person said. Analysts say deliveries are not expected to recover to 2019 levels until at least 2024.
But before any jet is delivered, it must go through invasive inspections and costly repairs.
First, technicians must pull out the passenger seats, open up the floor paneling and use specialty tools to measure whether defects invisible to the naked eye are present, according to three people with direct knowledge of the process.
The repair work – already underway at Boeing factories in Everett, Washington and North Charleston, South Carolina – is even harder.
In the bowels of the jet, technicians have to remove multiple specialty fasteners on both sides of the inner fuselage skin, then install newly produced “shims” that fill out gaps and remove the structural dimpling. Workers then replace all the fasteners, re-paint, and re-install the interior, they said.
“It’s like open heart surgery,” one of the people said. “They’ll be retrofitting the fleet for potentially several years.”
(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Additional reporting by Tim Hepher in Paris, David Shepardson in Washington, and Tracy Rucinski in Chicago; Editing by Nick Zieminski)
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