At the 2014 Seminar by the Sea, Christie Kent of Lipkie Consulting delivered a presentation to the attendees on developing cash flow waterfalls using Quantrix. We sat down with her during the event to learn more about why she chose Quantrix, and how it has helped her business.
As she notes, she used to use Excel to develop models for clients, until a client asked for a project that could not be done in Excel. She researched numerous financial software packages to find one that would meet her needs, and only Quantrix was able to deliver.
“Quantrix provided a solution that was ideal for this type of cash flow waterfall,” says Kent. “I didn’t have to reproduce the logic over and over – I used the same logic for each level of the waterfall… all I had to do was add another level, and the logic continued.”
In addition, she found that it was easy to add new investors to the model, and simply modify the assumptions. Quantrix has become her primary modeling solution, enabling her to support the complex structures of Lipkie Consulting’s clients.
Kent has discovered that the ease of use of Quantrix is just one benefit: “The accuracy of information is so much better with Quantrix,” she says.
Watch the full video to learn more about Christie Kent’s use of Quantrix to develop cash flow waterfalls.
The Quantrix team is energized after hosting our customers from around the world at our eighth annual Seminar by the Sea. This event, held in our headquarters city of Portland, Maine, gives us a chance to connect more closely with our customers, from Fortune 500 companies to small business owners. We shared information about our products, services, and company outlook, but more importantly, we got the chance to learn from our customers about how they are using Quantrix products in their environment. Plus, we managed to have some time to relax and network on an informal basis. Following are some of the highlights of this year’s event:
- Quantrix beginners had their own track of sessions that introduced them to the product and the essentials of model building. They also learned how to structure logic, formulas, and function as well as understand the presentation tools of Quantrix. Other introductory sessions included basics that every Quantrix user should know, including the sample model library and the support portal, and how to build dynamic presentation canvasses.
- Advanced users participated in hands-on sessions to explore features such as DataLink, DataNAV, and DataPush and to learn new skills such as building scorecard models. The final day of the seminar included a full day scripting workshop, where customers brought their own scripts in to be reviewed by the Quantrix team.
- Other sessions were conducted for the full group, including those that spelled out the Quantrix road map, introduced some upcoming product features and brainstorms around future product features, and shared best practices in model performance and scalability.
As always, among the most popular sessions of the Seminar were the presentations from customers. This year’s presenters included Charity Hegel, Kim Oleson, Derek Christensen, Matt Burrows, and Rich Lopez from Litehouse; Christie Kent from Lipkie Consulting; and George Pappas from MotionSoft. These people shared information about their models and how they use them within their companies, and answered questions from the audience. They were all great about continuing to answer questions during the networking times, as well – everyone wanted to learn more about these advanced implementations.
As in years past, we dedicated a block of time for one-on-one consulting sessions with members of our team. This year, the sessions were completely booked up almost immediately after we announced them – we were really excited that so many of our customers took advantage of this opportunity.
We had some great evening activities as well, including a sail on an historic schooner in Casco Bay. We’re not sure which was more popular – the gorgeous view of Casco Bay and its islands and the dramatic sunset sky, or the lobster dinner. People “from away” were excited to see the buffet piled high, and to grab a second (or third!) lobster.
The event was a success for Quantrix, but the true measure is when it’s a success for our customers. As one attendee said on the evaluation form, “I think Quantrix is the best kept secret in business modeling. At the networking session I was pleased with people speaking with as much passion about the product as I have.”
We thank everyone for attending. If you didn’t get a chance to come to this year’s event, we hope you can join us for next year’s event. Just watch this space, or send email to email@example.com to be included on the list for when we announce the dates.
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!