The need for keeping a careful eye on your budget has never been greater. Some smaller companies can rise or fall depending on how well they can manage, review and forecast their budgets - from profit and loss to staffing and facilities. It all adds up, and if you lose track, you could lose the business completely.

This has happened time and time again to businesses who thought that they could survive the economic turndown since 2008, but who in fact dragged out the inevitable end longer, spending more money and wasting more resources.

If a double dip recession happened, would you see it coming within your business? Are you completely confident in your predicted cash flow and forecasts for the coming year and beyond? Accurate forecasting is the key to any budget management, and if you're not paying it the attention it deserves now, it will only come and sting you where it hurts - in the pocket - later.

Accurate forecasting can sometimes save a business, for example, by introducing austerity measures, making some roles redundant rather than shut the business down, or to check if you can afford the cash flow to pay business to business costs.

So how do you keep your eye on the ball? You don't need to pay a financial analyst; you don't need to be psychic either when it comes to what's happening in the economy. You probably already have the one tool you need sitting on your company computers or even at home - Microsoft Excel can do most of the forecasting work for your business, as can any other powerful spreadsheet program.

The great advantage to using Excel is that most businesses already have it, and have it across the board on a bulk license - therefore you don't need to buy separate software for all the different teams who need to make forecasts, such as marketing, HR, pensions, the press office, and so on.

Everyone can use the same template to produce forecasts, and with sharing and automation facilities, one department can keep their forecast up to date based on what the other teams are doing - something that's essential for correct forecasting. For example, if your accounts department noticed a 5% increase in prices of external suppliers of your stock, if you didn't know about it, you may well spend this money elsewhere and create a deficit where you thought there was enough budget to cover the costs.

Accurate forecasting doesn't need to be rocket science, all you need is a quick word in the ear of your IT team (who'll also have their own budget!) and ensure that all your teams have the facility to update data across the board when it comes to forecasting.

That way, your business will run like a well-oiled machine, always knowing what the other parts are doing. It stops unnecessary spending and holes opening up in your budget. With Excel-based forecasting, you can make sure you can sail through the stormy waters of the recession with ease.