Cashflow is a hugely important issue for small businesses, but if you’re looking to measure and control your cashflow position, there are three key areas that you need cover:
- Real-time cashflow data – so you have the most current overview of your cash position
- Practical insights into your cash position – so you can see the trends, patterns, seasonal dips and potential cashflow threats.
- Intelligent actionable guidance on cashflow threats – so you can execute, get practical with cash management and proactively maintain a positive cashflow position.
But how do you consolidate these three key areas into one solution? And how does integrating an app like Fluidly into your Xero system take your cashflow from being a theoretical reporting function and turn it into a practical reality you can execute on?
Caroline Plumb, Fluidly founder and CEO, explains the need for an intelligent cashflow engine.
Understanding your cashflow pain points
If you’re a small business, the main cashflow pain point is not getting access to the right insights and reporting – it’s having clear action points that you can execute on.
Cashflow is far easier to manage when you have detailed insights and reporting available to you. But if you’re a small business, the main cashflow pain point is not getting access to the right insights and reporting – it’s having clear action points that you can execute on.
Apps that show reporting and performance are useful tools to have, but you’ve still got to interpret the data yourself to figure what the insight is – and then figure out what to do about any issues that get flagged up. So when it comes to cashflow, what you really care about are questions like ‘Can I make payroll this month?’, or ‘Can I pay my VAT bill this quarter?’, or ‘How many trading days do I have in the bank?’.
In short, it’s about identifying the key pain points in the cash side of the business and then doing something about them.
Moving cashflow into a practical reality
So how do you answer these key practical cash questions? What a good cashflow solution must do is take your financial overview out of the theoretical realm – moving it away from pure reporting – and helping you to put your cash numbers into a practical context.
The dashboard style of reporting apps tell you what’s happened – so their focus is historic and, to a degree, somewhat ‘rear view’. Inherently, what you see in your dashboard is data, rather than insights or actionable guidance. What’s needed is data, that then leads to insights that, in turn, lead to execution – the data is the starting point, but with cashflow you need your solution to also suggest what you do about your cash issues.
A more actionable kind of cashflow insight
The idea for Fluidly came from this need to execute – to create an intelligent cashflow engine that can provide the data, insights and actionable ways to execute on those key insights.
Our aim is to help you optimise your cash in practical ways, so you get paid faster and can see further down the cash road at every stage in the business cycle.
Our aim is to help you optimise your cash in practical ways, so you get paid faster. One of the key things that Fluidly tells you is who your best payers are and, importantly, who your bad payers are too. And that allows you to get your cash paid faster by getting those bad payers paying your more quickly and efficiently.
That’s done through automating things like sending out invoice reminders and credit control chasing emails, or having reminders in place to phone late-paying customers. We use the insights from that Xero data to help you know where to focus your efforts.
So there’s that element of turning cashflow into a practical reality, rather than a theoretical representation of your Xero data. But there’s also the fact that this isn’t a financial modelling exercise that’s based in pure theory. Our solution takes your historical actuals and trading performance from Xero, and giving you a view of cashflow that’s based on real data.
A data-driven approach to cashflow and forecasting
Having a link to your Xero data makes the cashflow outputs from Fluidly real, pragmatic and (critically) actionable. That gives you an intelligent cashflow engine that will make your business as dynamic as possible around keeping cashflow positive.
For example, your company may have a CTO whose job it is to keep computer viruses off your software and network. But what if all your CTO did was post a list on a board of every virus in the world today – that wouldn’t provide the clear, actionable guidance you needed as a business. You’ve still got to review that list, decide which viruses apply to you and, crucially, know what’s needed to protect yourself against those viruses.
An intelligent cashflow engine to drive your cashflow
Fluidly is ‘anti-virus software for cashflow’, constantly looking for threats and alerting you with clear, practical instructions on how to avoid these specific cashflow pains.
Fluidly sits in your financial system and analyses your cash. It’s there to be the ‘anti-virus software for cashflow’, constantly monitoring your Xero data, looking for threats and alerting you with clear, practical instructions on how to avoid these specific cashflow pains.
Integrating this smart financial engine into your Xero system means you go beyond just reviewing the historic data and can get truly proactive about tackling cashflow. By automating the predictions and warnings that Fluidly provides, you’re continuously monitoring and reviewing your cashflow status, 24/7.
That gives you the opportunity to then act, execute and avert any cash problems.
Moving away from passive to active apps
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a key element of many fintech solutions, and that’s moving us away from passive dashboard apps towards active smart solutions. This transition from passive to active is a turning point, and moves the cashflow focus squarely towards execution.
There’s been a slight misconception in the business and accounting worlds that AI is going to simply replace the low-level finance assistant and bookkeeper functions. But that’s not really where the opportunity lies with AI, machine learning and software algorithms.
What AI does so well is providing round-the-clock analysis and intelligence – and that’s a huge opportunity for most businesses. It’s already here in digital assistant like Alexa and Cortana, or the smart recommendations you see in products like Netflix and Amazon, but it’s important to remember that AI and software can’t do everything.
Where the true value of AI comes is in combining humans with machines – that’s where the real power is.
The power of software working in harmony with humans
Fluidly is not a product that we see as a ‘machine-only solution’, and we’re equally aware that people are not the only element in this cashflow equation. It’s a combination of both: human + machine = the big cashflow step forward.
In the same way that we consolidate the cashflow, forecasting and debt management features of several apps into one intelligent cashflow engine, we’re also consolidating the key benefits of software analysis and automation with the knowledge, experience and creative thinking of real human finance professionals.
We have a very simple, easy-to-use user interface, but under the bonnet there’s some serious data-processing and analysis power going on in the Fluidly. And it’s that software-driven engine that will help you, your finance team and your business advisers get the absolute best results from your financial model and cashflow drivers.