CRANFIELD TRUST MASTERCLASS - Spreadsheets, cashflow, management information - so what?

Posted: 30th April 2014

Cranfield Trust Financial EffectivenessNext time your eyes glaze over a financial spreadsheet remember that 70% of such documents contain errors! See if you can spot them.  Not only are Dr. Ruth Bender and John Tranter financial specialists. but they can also make the subject practical and even entertaining.  Last week’s Cranfield Trust Masterclass, generously hosted by The Cranfield School of Management, was attended by over 25 charity CEOs, Senior Managers and Trustees eager to develop their skills and understanding further.

Ruth and John presented a compelling masterclass reinforcing the message delivered by Stephanie Hussells in The Trust’s previous class on Essential Business Planning: “CASH IS KING!”  They stressed the importance of cash flows and Cashflow diagramfuture projections, advising us to focus on what’s ahead, blowing away useless ratios and numbers that can cloud our vision.  They advised us to keep questioning our information: “what’s this really telling me?”; “what if this expense increases and this funding stream drops with a dull thud?”  We need to look at our cash flows and forecasts and work out how they’re affected by and affect our behaviours, and what the implications are. To succeed, everyone involved, from HR and Strategy to Operations, must collaborate to set budgets.

Only in this way can we ensure that as charity managers we are able both to provide vital direct services and also influence legislators and change attitudes.

As delegates we were not let off a little challenging accounting to tax our brains and check our understanding.  The variety of scenarios put most of us (non-accountants) to the test and doing so we learnt the importance of scenario planning.  We understood why a balance sheet is vital in checking the accuracy of the P&L and Cashflow and that by communicating with each other we could increase accuracy and comprehension.

This practical exercise raised the energy in the room and we all left feeling that little bit wiser and inspired, deserving of our wine and canapés, again kindly hosted by Cranfield School of Management, where we all exchanged stories and conversations into the early evening. Thank you to Ruth and John.











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