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3 things to bring a new perspective into your forecasting

by Pat Rodgers

We are thrilled to bring you the Canopy Leadership Series. Each month we will provide perspectives from thought leaders, senior executives, and hands-on operators. To kick off our series we couldn’t think of anyone better than Scott Kraege. Scott was the Co-Founder & CEO of MOBI Wireless, acquired by Tangoe in 2018. As of late, he’s helping people like us as an MD at Techstars and Startup Advisor.

3 things to bring a new perspective into your forecasting

Step away for a moment from your own day to day efforts and think through bigger issues facing your scaling organization, and the broader executive team. Even a slight adjustment in perspective will provide clarity; and combined with your sales lens, additional often valuable forecasting angles. Your team is relying on you to forecast through this turbulence – often impossible without better clarity and optimism to outside elements.  

Your CFO is planning for better cash management and attempting to predict how this U, V, or W rebound will impact financials. Your CEO is considering how this virtual world will impact culture, real estate, and competitive trends. HR and hiring teams are on a daily roller coaster ride looking at performance and endless piles of great talent like never before. These highest-level elements are only a sliver of what executive teams are facing right now as we (fingers crossed) start to baby step our way out of this economic and cultural pause. With an array of executive team challenges, it’s up to you to get forecasting right. 

Don’t lose focus on your day job, but let’s take a minute and think through how your forecasting can provide greater insight for your executive colleagues. If mapped accurately, many of the above elements become a little easier to prepare for. 

Better forecasting is not the result of finding a silver bullet, it’s not going to be the result of a 1/2 day off-site Zoom brainstorm, and it’s unlikely your Hubspot or Salesforce “dashboard” will provide powerful insights past what you already know. Rather, better forecasting will be the result of gathering micro-factors that only you have the insight to. These micro artifacts occur every day and include: new ideas for pipeline velocity, past performance trends (both people & process), pre-&-current-COVID customer insights, operational experiments & the smallest wins felt throughout your team. 

Seeing these impressions and collecting them in an organized fashion requires an optimistic approach and a heavy dose of data to keep what’s impactful to forecasts in focus.

First, spend time in thought and reflection of your conversations. Dedicate 5 minutes after every conversation to physically writing (that means with a pen and paper)the 1-3 takeaways from every customer or team member conversation. These add up and will start to map out a landscape (note, this is not a path). 

Second, explore your data with better tools AND people. New tools and new perspectives are starter-fluid for producing better planning. This isn’t easy and will take time. Recently I wanted to provide one of my clients with a scorecard to track KPIs for a 3-month sprint. I dug up what I had used successfully in the past, made a copy, and shared – it took 2 minutes. Then thought there had to be a better version out there. I hired someone on Upwork, reached out to a financial analyst friend, and signed up for 2 product demos that overlapped with my improved scorecard idea. 3 weeks later I had a bad-ass scorecard template I’ve implemented with nearly all of my founders. Stretch yourself, ask for help, and explore to collect the smallest of ideas. 

Third, be personally judicious. Opportunities for improvement and accuracy will come from outside of what you think is relevant. If you are the .0001% that nailed the last 6 months forecast, this doesn’t pertain to you. For the rest of us, open-minded optimism will be the key to better forecasting. 

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