New Quantrix users often schedule a training session to get up to speed quickly. While Quantrix offers training and consulting with in-house staff, we also have a network of Quantrix partners that can effectively deliver training and consulting services. One of the most experienced partners is Valerie Grenier. Formerly of Quantrix, and now Senior Consultant at Tesser Consulting Group, Valerie offers insights into how new users can get the most out of their Quantrix modeling solution.
Q: What are the most common things that Quantrix users need help with when first getting started?
Valerie Grenier: The first piece is obviously getting a grasp of the multidimensional way we think in Quantrix. We are really concerned with structure of the model – items, categories, or groups – and how we use that structure to perform actions collectively on an item, category, or group. Understanding the relationships between dimensions in the model is essential to creating powerful and efficient models, and to make them work in the best way possible.
Q: What mistakes do people make?
VG: Spreadsheet users are used to thinking in terms of individual cells, so they are constantly trying to do things by clicking in a cell rather than taking the structure into consideration. In Quantrix, everything is a cube, and you want to work on a range of cells – not just one cell.
Once users are comfortable with that, they find adding formulas and formatting to be much easier. Users can write one formula in Quantrix that will calculate a large range of cells, and don’t need to edit it as the model is expanded over time. An understanding of the structure of a model can directly affect how simple or complicated the formulas need to be.
Another mistake that people make is that they create their model based on how they want it to look – that’s because it’s so hard to change things in spreadsheets. But in Quantrix, the first priority should be to structure the formulas so that they are calculating efficiently. For example, people like to create financial reports where a quarterly total is included after every three months. But creating your model that way disrupts the cube – you want to calculate the months one way, the quarter another way, and the annual total a third way. There are a lot of tools to get a model in Quantrix to look the way you want, so people need to focus on efficient calculations.
Q: How can new users get up to speed quickly?
VG: One thing I always tell people is to create a model for something in your everyday life that interests you, such as sports statistics, or tracking a wedding budget. That way, they will get their feet into Quantrix every day. If a model interests them, they are more likely to spend time tweaking it, and they will improve their skills by working on it regularly.
Q: How about formal training?
VG: Formal training can definitely get users there quicker – whether it’s attending a session in-person or online, structured training helps people get further and faster than trying to self teach. I have conducted training for a lot of companies where the first user was self-taught, and he or she schedules formal training for their team before the model is deployed. It never fails — early on in those sessions, the self-taught user says, “I didn’t know that”. An initial investment in training will pay off quickly by helping you get your model built better and quicker.
Q: What features are most important for new users to learn?
Data Link provides a quick, user-friendly way to get data into a model, either from an external data source or another model, without having to manually enter it. If it’s implemented correctly, it’s an easy way to update models and manage data revisions.
The Presentation Canvas allows the modeler to share the output of the model by assembling elements such as data tables, charts, images, and logos. You can use it to make a professional looking report or an interactive dashboard. And Quantrix is developing great technologies to deploy these dashboards to the web via the Quantrix Qloud.
Perspectives is often an overlooked gem in Quantrix. It’s a way to preserve the layout on the screen, and create a systematic workflow. Each matrix and chart in Quantrix is on its own tab, and Perspectives lets you save the arrangement. Let’s say you need a person to work with data in a specific order – you can create a Perspective that they can tab right through. It really enhances the end-user experience of any model.
Q: You’ve traveled all over the world training Quantrix users. Where’s your favorite place?
VG: I like going to new places! Warm weather is preferred.
Tesser Consulting Group offers two- and three-day on-site training packages as well as a rotating catalog of one- and two-hour online training sessions. Many sessions are also available “On Demand”.
We are currently recruiting for two positions at Quantrix.
- A Portland, Maine based Software Developer to help build our software.
- A Burlington, Massachusetts based Account Manager to help sell our software.
Quantrix is a great company to work for. We have that entrepreneurial feel where your individual contributions can make a big difference… and we have the security and support of IDBS which puts us on a stable business platform geared for future success.
Check out our career page for more information.
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.