James Heagney uses Quantrix to create integrated financial plans that help small business utilize cash flow forecasts. He attended the recent Seminar by the Sea, where we had a discussion with him about the benefits of Quantrix vs. spreadsheets.
Heagney finds that while financial reporting is important for all companies, it’s especially critical for businesses that are funded by external partners. “It’s very important…to have very accurate financial reporting tools to report to investors and management to make sure good decisions can be made,” says Heagney.
Creating financial plans is difficult to do with standard tools such as Excel, which is why Heagney sought out a better solution. “[Quantrix] has become my tool of choice for essentially all the financial preparation, financial reporting that I do in the businesses that I get involved in,” he says.
One of the features of Quantrix that he touts is the ease of creating formulas using natural language. “Formula building made easy makes for more accurate formulas,” says Heagney. “It’s a very effective tool for cash flow forecasting.”
With the 2014 World Cup now underway in Brazil we have dusted off a model we made in 2010 to track the World Cup standings and updated it for this year’s tournament.
Some interesting notes about this model’s functionality:
- The unique use of the Quantrix presentation canvas to track scores of the Group and Knockout stages
- The use of Quantrix Scripting to write a custom function that reaches out to Wikipedia to get the country flag images.
- The use of URL’s on a canvas to navigate to other canvasses and to external website locations.
It’s a fun model to use to do a bit of ‘What-If’ modeling with your favorite team. Model the path to your team’s ultimate victory!
You can view a ‘read-only’ public version of this model on our web based Quantrix Qloud here: (interactive / edit capability is available to user with an interactive subscription to the Quantrix Qloud.)
A lot of companies use spreadsheets – they’re cheap, relatively easy to use, and are standalone apps for the desktop. But any organization relying on spreadsheets for financial planning should read the recent research report from Nick Castellina at Aberdeen Group (Beyond Spreadsheets: The Next Level in Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting). This report calls out something that is no surprise to us at Quantrix: top-performing organizations take a “beyond spreadsheets” approach to budgeting, forecasting, and planning.
In addition to security, challenges with version control, and problems accessing data, spreadsheets simply aren’t as nimble and agile as most businesses need for decision-making. Aberdeen’s research finds that organizations that use a beyond-spreadsheets approach are more than twice as likely to have real-time updates to financial metrics. They can better track performance against budget on an ongoing basis, and they can reforecast as market conditions change.
The report calls out one of the strengths of Quantrix – the ability to create “what-if” scenarios. Those who can generate scenarios can create more informed plans, and set contingencies for certain events. Moving beyond spreadsheets enables organizations to make adjustments to the business that improve productivity, revenue, and operating margins.
In all, organizations that Aberdeen defines as “best in class” are 71% more likely to take a “beyond spreadsheet” approach to financial planning.
To that, we say “amen” – and recommend that anyone relying on spreadsheets alone check out Quantrix. We’d love to help you become best-in-class!
Most Quantrix customers use the software to model real-life business problems. Luca Erzegovesi uses Quantrix to teach the next generation of business and finance professionals.
Erzegovesi is Professor of Finance at University of Trento, which serves more than 15,000 students. It recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, and is acknowledged as one of the leading universities in Italy.
Erzegovesi has been using Quantrix in the classroom for more than seven years to teach students about financial planning. He says that the reaction to the solution is very enthusiastic, and feels that the ability to match theory about finance to real life is important when teaching.
When he attended the 2013 Seminar by the Sea in Portland, Maine, he spoke on camera about his use of Quantrix in the classroom.
Quantrix offers “great flexibility … in order to bring real life data into your model. You can manage at the same time the clarity of the conceptual model and the complexity of the data that you bring in from accounting systems,” says Erzegovesi.
We’ve been busy planning our annual customer gathering, and are excited to announce our 8th annual Seminar by the Sea will be September 10-12 in Portland, Maine. This event is one of the highlights of our year at Quantrix because we get the chance to show off Quantrix Modeler and share some new features. We learn how people use Quantrix to solve various business challenges, and are able to ask them questions in an informal setting. We get to meet people who are looking for solutions to help them model information, and show them the power of Quantrix. But best of all, we get the chance to introduce everyone – the Quantrix team, current customers, and prospective customers — to each other.
We structure the Seminar so that there is the right combination of learning for all levels – classroom sessions where you get to learn from our team and from your peers, small break-out groups for advanced users or for newbies, and plenty of informal learning opportunities. The Seminar is an exceptionally interactive event – people are encouraged to ask questions and share ideas. We often add sessions on the fly – if a user has a unique idea or a well-executed model, we ask them to give a mini presentation to the group. (Read a recap of last year’s event if you’d like an idea of what to expect.)
Adding to the personal nature of the Seminar is the setting – Portland, Maine is Quantrix’s headquarters, and we love showing off our town. From the working waterfront, to the boutique shopping, to the world-class restaurants, Portland is an ideal location for this type of event. Many of our attendees bring their spouses or significant others, and some extend their stay to enjoy the city together.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a visit to Maine without a chance to eat lobster – we will once again host an evening Windjammer sail on Casco Bay, followed by a traditional lobster bake. Even for those of us based in Portland, the opportunity to cruise among our harbor islands on an historic boat is special.
John Taylor is the Founder and Director of Planning Models Ltd., a UK-based company that specializes in business planning. When at the 2013 Quantrix Seminar by the Sea, he shared some insight into his use of Quantrix for his work developing business planning models to quantify and evaluate alternative strategies and plans. The company has developed models for a variety of markets, including for university student population and tuition fee forecasting, heavy equipment sales and after-market revenue forecasting, software sales pipeline and revenue forecasting, and health care provision planning.
For Taylor, the multidimensionality of Quantrix makes it the right tool for modeling complex business problems, and for developing models for businesses that are either changing or anticipate change on the horizon.
“[Quantrix] more naturally represents the multiple dimensions that occur in business problems,” says Taylor. “There are a lot of multifaceted aspects of planning problems, and that fits more naturally with Quantrix.”
Another benefit is Quantrix’s ability to integrate with a variety of external data sources, including financial systems and operational systems. He uses DataLink to pull information in to his models, and DataPush to export forecasts and plans to his customers’ databases. “It’s very easy to integrate Quantrix within a whole set of systems used in a corporation,” says Taylor.
While Quantrix is technically sophisticated, it is easy to use by business professionals. “To have that degree of control and flexibility without … needing an IT background is one of the selling points,” says Taylor.
One thing I love to do with my family is to go Alpine skiing. With Quantrix’s HQ in Maine, we can take advantage of some great ski areas. Each year we make a point to ski Sugarloaf, Mt. Abram, Black Mountain of Maine and Shawnee Peak. I even maintain a personal ski blog about our family skiing adventures. Our favorite mountain and where we have a season pass every year is Saddleback located in Rangeley, Maine.
Each year about this time, ski areas offer “Early-Bird” pricing on next year’s season pass. The analysis for buying a season’s pass is very multi-dimensional. There is season pass price, purchase time deadlines, age level of passes, day ticket prices and the question of “How many ski-days does it take to pay off a season pass?” And of course I use Quantrix Modeler and the Quantrix Qloud to do this analysis.
With the first purchase deadline approaching, I put a model together quickly with one formula driving the entire calculation. The model is expandable so when new season pass deadline comes, I can easily expand the dimension, add the new pricing figures and the model will just… work. No formula editing or copying and pasting things around. There is also a nice canvas I built to show the model results that has links to the Saddleback website. I use a picture of my son skiing as the canvas image background.
You can view the model on our Quantrix Qloud, and you can download the model file itself here. While we market Quantrix as a tool for business, it certainly has many personal finance applications as well.
Mike Salisbury is the Sr. Product Manager for Quantrix. In his free time in the winter you can find him somewhere on a ski slope.