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Just-in-time budgeting for a volatile economy

'Just-in-time budgeting for a volatile economy'
McKinsey on Finance The crisis: Timing strategic moves 1 Timing is key as companies weigh whether to make strategic investments now or wait for clear signs of recovery. Scenario analysis can expose the risks of moving too quickly or slowly. Just-in-time budgeting for a volatile economy 6 A volatile economy makes traditional budgets obsolete before they’re even completed. Here’s how companies can adapt more quickly. The future of private equity 11 These funds face a credit-constrained world; they must adapt to thrive. The voice of experience: Public versus private equity 16 Few directors have served on the boards of both private and public companies. Those who have give their views here about which model works best. The economic impact of increased US savings 22 US consumers are spending less and saving more. The economic impact of that combination will depend upon how fast incomes grow. Opening up to investors 26 Executives need to embrace transparency if they want to help investors make investment decisions. But what should be disclosed? Perspectives on Corporate Finance and Strategy Number 31, Spring 2009 6 needed. The list that follows isn’t exhaustive, nor are the activities on it mutually exclusive. In some combination—depending on the business, size, complexity, and culture of the organization involved—they can help companies improve the budget process. 1. Scenario planning with trigger events In more stable times, the budget process is typically an exercise in consensus build- ing—a lengthy and difficult effort to generate a single view of the future to guide a com- pany’s investments and rewards over the coming year. While many management teams speculate informally on how their busi- nesses will evolve, few actively debate a number of scenarios or undertake the con- Just-in-time budgeting for a volatile economy A volatile economy makes traditional budgets obsolete before they’re even completed. Here’s how companies can adapt more quickly. There’s no easy fix, particularly for very large corporations, and companies that have tried to solve the problem don’t have much of a track record. Executives can, however, take several measures to make the process more effective: for instance, scenario planning, zero-based budgeting, rolling forecasts, and quarterly budgeting. Central to all of them is a substantial increase in the CFO’s role and a radical speeding up of the budgeting process. New approaches For many companies, allocating or with- holding resources quickly and efficiently may be the only way to navigate today’s very tough environment. A completely new approach to the budget process is often Mahmut Akten, Massimo Giordano, and Mari A. Scheiffele Most companies find budgeting a formidable challenge even under stable conditions. Managers often spend significant amounts of time on it, only to be dismayed by how little value comes from four to six months’ effort. Under volatile conditions, when economic forecasts change from w
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