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Float scenario planning

Float expands options for cashflow scenarios

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Edinburgh-based cashflow forecasting specialist Float has been basking in the afterglow of ending 2021 as Xero’s app of the month on the strength of enhancements to its scenario planning tools.

12th Jan 2022
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Xero ecosystem manager Nick Houldsworth lauded Float as one of the pioneers of cashflow forecasting and highlighted new scenario planning functionality that makes it easier to plan for any eventuality. “And there are even more experimental developments in the pipeline,” he added.

First launched in 2011, Float has grown an international following as a Xero add-on and gained ratings of 4.85 out of 5 from 280 users on the Xero App Store.

In common with several other forecasting and cash management apps, the use of Float skyrocketed during 2020-21. When looking at scenario planning usage within the app, Float tracked a 339% increase in activity between April 2019 and April 2020.

Pandemic trends

A deeper analysis shows how priorities changed as the pandemic developed. When the virus first hit in March-April 2020, the focus switched from sales trends and staffing/salary assessments to scenarios with the words “Covid”, “reduction” and “furlough” in their titles.

By May 2020, the word “loan” started to feature more heavily as businesses considered the implications of taking out government support loans. By summer, “sales” and “growth” scenarios crept back into the mix as glimmers of hope reappeared that businesses could recover from the shock of lockdown and enforced closures.

Float analysis of scenario plan titles 2020-21

The growth of scenario planning doubled within the retail sector over the past year and among café and restaurant owners, Float reported.

To support the increased demand, Float founder and CEO Colin Hewitt explained that the developer has been releasing incremental improvements over the past year or so, including a new way of expanding and visualising the cashflow table to make it easier to create alternative scenarios. “It gives a clearer view of how the budgets are broken down and gives users high-level visibility with a view of the granular level below,” he said.

VAT improvements

Commenting on current developments, Hewitt said that VAT had become a bigger concern for customers with payment deferments and changing VAT rates during the past year. Float is now working on building a better structure for thinking about VAT cashflows.

AccountingWEB’s latest round of insight market research has been exploring previous responses suggesting that cashflow forecasting had receded since the peaks of 2020. But in Float’s experience, demand has been steady. “We haven’t seen a drop-off,” said Hewitt.

“There are still a lot of people not doing cashflow forecasting at all, as well as people who have the ability and know-how to do it on spreadsheets. There’s a gap in the middle we’re trying to bridge with a dedicated tool rather than a spreadsheet.”

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