How can one categorize the past few weeks into a few paragraphs? At the start of 2020, we were all filled with optimism for a new decade, one brimming with innovation and massive potential. Now, on a daily basis, we hear of closings, quarantines, unemployment numbers, and, most sadly, an infection rate that keeps rising. While the most optimistic viewpoints have the working world returning to normal in just a couple months, that normal that we return to will be vastly different from the one we came from. The spectre of market and healthcare instability may have passed by then, but what has transpired will send reverberations through every future business action and activity. 

But right now, the whole world is coping with the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic. Businesses of all sizes are exploring a multitude of options to persevere day by day. But most importantly, they have to be forward thinking, ready for opportunity when normalcy, in any way shape or form, returns. Maybe that new normal won’t resemble the one we left behind in 2019, but it will arrive with two things that society desperately craves: Promise and opportunity. If anything, this historic moment has provided a chance to take a breath, pause, take inventory, and plan.

To examine right now is to try to take the temperature of a world in flux, not unlike checking the RPMs of a race car going through a corkscrew turn.Factors both known and unknown are influencing at differing levels on a daily basis. Which leads to a difficult reality for CFOs, CIOs, and their teams – How do you make projections for the future when black swan events are influencing them on a daily basis? A mere six months ago, the CEO of Domino’s stated that a 3 to 5 year forecast, and corresponding guidance, has reduced relevance given the way the world works. What do you think the same CEO would say today? 

Let’s say you’re a tier one video game publisher, set to launch your marquee title in Q3 2020. Do you release early if possible to capture the expendable income of the cooped up populace, or do you delay the release until the consumers are back on their feet and ready for your new product? Both decisions come with a heavy dose of risk and reward, with multiple factors to map out for even the most forward thinking teams. Payroll, product quality, cash flow, are all tested by this decision, let alone revenue and profit.

EPBCS is already well known for its ability to create accurate forecasting models. But it also has the capability to enhance your current models and create provisions for impact. Already, most well-built forecasts have impact modeling in place, ready for best case / worst case scenarios that are within regular levels of comprehension. But this is impact modeling built off of the current market landscape, with a worst scenario that may never even dip to the best case scenario of the COVID-19 impact. To some extent, the worst scenarios planned for 2020 and 2021 appear as mere pipe dreams for most companies.

That being said, we don’t recommend entirely jettisoning the hard work already done. Custom or out of the box sandboxing is a great way to begin to change the approach in place, allowing teams to test new data points and model out variations of their impact at different times. Planners of all types can privately (and not so privately) test out their models and can collaborate on multiple sandboxes without affecting each other’s work. When a proper model or analysis has been completed, the planners can publish it and include all modified data, different page/POV combinations, supporting detail, comments, and more.

Enabling sandboxes is a process in and of itself, and one that is worth having an expert walk you through. Sandboxes are enabled at the cube level. Out-of-the-Box sandbox functionality is enabled at the plantype level. It’s worth noting that sandboxes can only be used in EPBCS when you create custom plan types, and not available for the default cubes (Capital, Workforce, and Financials). Which is one of the many reasons having expert guidance, like our team, can make a difference when you set up your custom sandbox. Fortunately for you (or your team of planners), we’ve retooled our industry-focused Accelerators to provide a combination of both OOB and custom sandboxes for specific project types. Using our SCORE methodology and our deep functional knowledge, we can help teams that are scrambling to pick up the pieces of an outdated or irrelevant model and start thinking about how to get that hypothetical video game on track for 2020, and hopefully 2021 too.

These are difficult times, certainly, especially as we stand in the middle of it. But it’s also a time to reevaluate, plan for what-if, and be ready for what’s to come. Learn more about how PBCS / EPBCS can help you prepare for these black swan events here. As always, reach out to us if you have any questions. Stay safe!

— Gerry Villamil
President & Managing Director, Promethean Analytics