Scenario Planning in the Coronavirus Crisis: “It Wouldn't Be Possible with Excel”
Carsten Erpel is Director of Finance and Administration at 3B Scientific. The coronavirus pandemic had a direct impact on the company at a very early stage. Here he explains how LucaNet supports him in coming to terms during the Covid-19 pandemic.
All about 3B Scientific
Mr. Erpel, where have we caught you at this very moment?
Carsten Erpel: I’m working from home. Around 75 percent of our sales and administration staff have been working from home since March.
Somewhat of a compulsory exercise for many these days. How are things shaping up?
Carsten Erpel: It's a change, but it works surprisingly well once the technical challenges have all be solved.
Could you briefly explain what your company does?
Carsten Erpel: We trade worldwide in anatomical and other scientific teaching aids and medical simulators. We produce the majority of these products ourselves. Our best known product is our life-size skeleton, Stan.
How LucaNet helps during the coronavirus crisis
What has the coronavirus changed for your company and how does it affect the work in the finance department?
Carsten Erpel: Our corporate group has companies in 16 countries. We sell our products in almost all countries around the world. This is why the coronavirus had a direct influence on our company at a very early stage. For example, our factory and sales department in China were closed in January. They then were able to fully open again from mid-March.
We had to make a relatively spontaneous assessment of how quickly incoming orders would impact on overall business, but also how quickly the situation could return to normal again. LucaNet was a great help to us because we were able to simulate various circumstances without much effort and then update them in the form of projected forecasts.
How does LucaNet software help you during the coronavirus crisis?
Carsten Erpel: In the current situation, we can plan various scenarios with LucaNet at the press of a button. These scenarios immediately show us the effects on our cash flow. With Excel, a liquidity plan could never be achieved with such speed, reliability, and transparency.
We have set up an automated cash flow statement in LucaNet, which is based on both the balance sheet and schedule information. For our liquidity planning, we only have to adjust a few parameters, and we quickly get reliable figures.
Scenario planning: Disadvantages brought on by Excel
Can you imagine carrying out your current scenario planning with Excel?
Carsten Erpel: I suppose it could be possible. But then again, hardly in such a fast, comprehensible, and integrated manner. What is possible with LucaNet in minutes would take hours with Excel. We consolidate 20 companies, so only a few adjustments would be enough to push Excel beyond its limits.
Have all your companies been affected economically all at once?
Carsten Erpel: Fortunately this hasn’t been the case with us. On the contrary, we were able to learn from the developments in Asia and apply the experience gained there to the planning for our companies in Europe and America.
But, of course, it has an effect on our whole annual plan and will surely have an impact. No one can say with much certainty how strong we will come out of this at the end of the year. However, in order to at least head toward that general direction, we first set up a worst-case scenario and a best-case scenario in LucaNet.
Ultimately, however, it has come down to a scenario, which is updated with the actual figures on a monthly basis and always reflects our best estimate for the coming months.
Have you already lived through comparable circumstances in your professional life and if so, how did you react to these back then?
Carsten Erpel: I experienced something similar during the financial crisis. At that time, I used LucaNet software for a company with a straightforward business model. Using various scenarios created in LucaNet and very clear liquidity planning, I was able to show the banks doing the financing how the company could be kept afloat despite a massive drop in sales.
More specifically, we were able to convincingly demonstrate the effects of short-time work back then. The company is still on the market and continues to put LucaNet successfully to use.
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