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Most useful cashflow forecasting software for SMEs

Which cashflow forecasting software is most useful to offer to SMEs? Fluidly, Float or other?

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On the AccountingWeb Cashflow Forecast webinar yesterday, the panel mentioned several cashflow forecasting tools, but I didn't hear Float included in the list, which surprised me.  I've looked at the software reviews on AccountingWeb, but there are no user reviews for either Float or Fluidly since 2018.  Since both are quite new, I imagine they have changed quite a lot in the past 2 years.

My target market is small, service-based businesses looking to get a better grip on their cashflow, and potentially backing up an application for external funding.  Which forecasting software do people find most useful in practice?  I'm particularly interested if you have tried more than one and can compare pros and cons please.

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By johnt27
30th Jun 2020 14:59

If you're looking for something to backup a funding application or round then neither Float or Fluidly are suited. For that you need a proper 3 way forecasting tool and the best one on the market is Castaway.

For cash forecasting alone then most people default to Fluidly or Float. My preference is Fluidlybut many others prefer Float and in reality there's little between them. Don't believe the marketing hype - I find that cashflow forecasting is temporary to deal with a need (generally) whilst 3 way forecasting is more transaction driven. I think this also explains why neither app has had a review since 2018 - they were all the rage then, with big marketing to match, and now accountants, and possibly the apps themselves, have realised that the average SME is happy pootling along with a reasonable idea where there business is at and don't need an app to tell them what they already know.

Also, make sure you are aware of the inherent flaws of these forecasting tools ie you need to understand the assumptions they make and how to correct them. If your clients grow or contract quickly these tools are reasonably useless, for example.

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By tom123
30th Jun 2020 15:10

I agree -

Whenever I read about cash flow forecasting on here, I always assume it is a tool that restates the financial statements to show cash flow. This has a place, but there aren't many businesses that need that day to day.

What people do need (and I assume that is "3 way" although I haven't heard the term) is weekly forecasting based on bank transactions, unwinding debtors etc, direct debits, PAYE.

There will be tools that are better than a spreadsheet for that, I suppose, but for me 10 minutes every morning on a spreadsheet works - plus easily shareable with non finance staff / managers

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By prospera
02nd Jul 2020 09:20

Thank you both, and I was thinking more about the weekly style forecasting to predict the short term working capital levels. I agree that restating the financial statements is rarely needed.

The marketing hype for Float and Fluidly is that they connect to Xero, QBO and/or Freeagent so they update automatically and you don't need to keep double keying to keep them up to date. I'm guessing if it only takes you 10 minutes a day, that's not a benefit worth paying for though.

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Hallerud at Easter
By DJKL
02nd Jul 2020 11:19

I agree, I spent a period post 2008/2009 updating cashflows every couple of weeks as we managed our way out of the clutches of our bank, but mainly I use them only when raising funds.

These days my cashflow monitoring is every day noting down on the inside cover of my desk diary the total of our bank balances, it is amazing what one can read from the pattern- I have even considered inputting into excel to create a pretty wave chart.

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Sarah Douglas - HouseTree Business Ltd
By sarah douglas
30th Jun 2020 15:15

I personally really like Spotlight and use it with many clients, easy to work with import, and it integrates with Xero very well. It is worth a look. I initially purchased a licence for each client as it was cheaper than joining the accountant's partnership at first. The 3-way forecasting is excellent and a great tool, I find it works well if the client inputs, certainly on the sales forecasting.

Clients like Liveplan for the pitching reports if they are looking for funding or working with new potential customers.

We use a mixture of both depending on the remit.

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By prospera
02nd Jul 2020 09:22

Thanks, I hadn't looked at either of those.

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By Gone Sailing
01st Jul 2020 20:31

I vote Excel and DIY.

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Replying to Gone Sailing:
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By prospera
02nd Jul 2020 09:22

I have always used Excel, but it can get unwieldy if you have lots of different costs to keep track of, so I wondered if people had found apps worthwhile as an alternative.

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By Farkhem Hall
02nd Jul 2020 11:16

Disclosure - I am connected to FD4Cast

FD4Cast is a financial forecasting template built in Excel easily customisable to suit any business. Simply enter your income, cost and timing assumptions and a P&L, BS and Cash Flow drop out.

Both a Monthly and a Weekly template are available. Hotlinks (as a CSV import from your accounting system) are available in order to bring in your TB.

No subscription - simply a lifetime purchase. Build as many models as you like for as many clients as you like. I am willing to customise models for clients if required.

Currently 50% discount for AWEB readers during COVID-19 lockdown.

www.fd4cast.co.uk

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By [email protected]
02nd Jul 2020 11:42

I had a demo for Fluidly the other day - it has indeed evolved a lot over the last two years. It may be worth asking for a demo. nice interface with sliders that you could use while discussing with a client
Currently it is too costly for my simple forecasts and not sophisticated enough for my complex ones. so i'm sticking with Excel and considering Power BI

Whatever you use it is important to ensure that the assumptions are well documented and understood. I can't count the number of times i've had meetings where the CEO type says "but last time you said..."

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Replying to [email protected]:
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By Gone Sailing
02nd Jul 2020 11:59

Ditto. Which is why 'drivers' should never be buried in formulas, and be very clear on page 1. Oh the spreadsheets we inherit.

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