The Only Certainty About a Forecast is that It Will Be Wrong

When used as a management tool, rolling forecasts have an edge over many other performance management systems. This excerpt from the new book Reinventing the CFO explains how to make forecasts realistic and effective stating:

"The purpose of forecasting is to inform decision making (to help shape future outcomes), not to predict the future. In reality, forecasting is necessary only because organizations cannot react instantly to changing events. That's why fast reaction is more important than (even accurate) prediction—because accuracy is rarely achieved. Indeed, the only certainty about a forecast is that it will be wrong. The question is by how much. Narrowing that variation comes from learning, experience, decent information systems, and ultimately, judgment....

That's why adaptive organizations focus less on annual budgets or long-term views and more on rolling views—usually rolling forecasts that always look twelve to eighteen months ahead. Rolling forecasts, if well prepared, form the backbone of a new and much more useful information system that connects all the pieces of the organization and gives senior management a continuous picture both of the current position and the short term outlook..."