QuickBooks introduces Cash Flow Plannerby
Intuit’s summer update for QuickBooks Online prioritised features to manage cashflows more effectively during the coronavirus crisis.
The latest July update saw the UK rollout of the Cash Flow Planner, one of the long-term destinations on the QBO product roadmap. Given the Covid-19 inspired surge in demand for cashflow forecasts, the facility has arrived at a good time for UK businesses and accountants.
“As you can image during Covid-19 pressures, understanding cashflow is critical for small businesses,” Intuit QuickBooks European director of product Shaun Shirazian told AccountingWEB.
“Cash Flow Planner and our suite of payment offerings are where we’ve seen the biggest impact on customers. We’re seeing very strong growth rates on customers sending pay-enabled invoices that can get paid electronically. It’s what you’d expect during the Covid-19 crisis.”
Work was already underway on these areas, Intuit put more effort and resources into them to meet increasingly urgent demand from customers for these features, Shriazian said.
The Cash Flow Planner generates a three-month view of your forward cash position and “works really well when you connect it to your bank account, he continued. Any outstanding QBO transactions with dates in the future will show up in the Planner as expected future transactions. Once these are paid, they fall out of the forecast.
Despite the importance of getting a handle on cashflow at this time, “A lot of our customers don’t know it exists yet,” said Shirazian. Part of his focus around the summer update will be to raise awareness of the new feature and encourage more customers to hook it up to their new Open Banking feeds.
Feedback from QBO users on AccountingWEB has been less effusive about the new features. As far back as April, members were discussing open banking niggles and more recently a few members questioned the value of the Cash Flow Planner. “Disregard it as a feature,” advised Red Leader earlier this week.
Shirazian said that he was listening to customer feedback and that the developer was investing in the Cash Flow Planner for the long term. “It’s really end to end so we will make it strong,” he said. “We’re doing more to expand the scope of transactions to look at that we will be predicting. That will get better over time. It is powered by machine learning and predictive algorithms, so the more data that goes through it, the stronger it will progress.”
The Open Banking interface has enabled QuickBooks to automatically categorise imported transactions and a large percentage of QBO users are doing this. But the transition has disrupted existing direct bank feeds and forced clients to update their authorisations every three months.
“The 90-day reauthentication has been the biggest feedback issue,” said Shirazian.
“Whenever we move to a new technology or new source like this, there are teething issues. It is something customers have to go through, but we are working closely with banking organisations to improve that.”
Construction Industry Scheme (CIS)
Small businesses in the construction industry make up a significant part of the QuickBooks user base and with this update, Intuit has completed the full CIS workflow by enabling them to file their CIS returns from within QuickBooks Online. “There was a little gap, so you could prepare the return in QBO, but still had to go to HMRC to file it. Now it’s fully automated,” Shirazian said.
Coming hot on the heels of this release will be reconciliation to QBO Payroll and the main accounting ledgers, he continued: “The CIS suffered will flow all the way through to Payroll so customers won’t have to manually enter the CIS amounts.”
Making Tax Digital plans
The QBO summer update coincided with HMRC’s July announcement about the next steps in the MTD programme. While declining to map out his strategy for handling income tax within QuickBooks, Shirazian said, “We are all over that and the product will support it as we have with MTD for VAT.
“Tax has always been a critical part of what our customers count on us to help them with and we will continue to do that with the tranches of MTD.”
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AccountingWEB’s Editor at large has been with the site since 1999, rising from news editor to editor in chief, global editor and head of insight. As a roving editor, he continues to investigate the profession's use of technology around the world. He devotes his spare time to technology history and an oddball collection of stringed instruments...