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Have You Outgrown Your Spreadsheet? Forecast Faster With Helm

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Much is owed to the humble spreadsheet. The powerful tool was invented in 1979 by Harvard student Dan Bricklin. After watching a professor use a blackboard and chalk to illustrate a table and formulas, it occurred to him to apply the same idea within the personal electronic computer. Alas, the spreadsheet was born.

Although originally based on a simple chalk drawing, the technology has only expanded since Bricklin’s college days. We all know how helpful Excel can be, and we often share our own basic cash flow template. Having used Excel extensively for cash flow forecasting, we also noticed some frustrating limitations within the program, specifically around room for error, time-intensive commitment, and the lack of visualization.

We know you don’t have time to kill and your clients needed cash flow forecasting yesterday. That’s why we made Helm.

Efficient Editing

There’s no denying that to an avid Excel user, it can actually be rewarding to spend hours creating a spreadsheet, running formulas, and have everything line up perfectly. But the reason it’s so satisfying is because that level of perfection is hard-won. In the end, even slight adjustments take a ton of time, and can jeopardize the accuracy of the entire report. Bulk editing in Excel often requires multiple steps that open up opportunities for human error. Plus, trying to collaborate on the report when it’s still an editable file can be a tense situation: A client or colleague could always unknowingly modify something, accidentally skewing the data, resulting in headaches all around. The workaround is to make sure everything in the active spreadsheet is locked down before it’s shared, but that is yet another stiff step, requiring a certain level of finality before sharing with clients.

With Helm, making changes to the forecast is a breeze. Helm’s Bulk Editing capability features:

  1. Easy, fast, bulk edits. Change the dates for receivable invoices or bills payable in a matter of minutes. Simply sync your data from QuickBooks Online or Xero, select the entries, and change the dates. Voila.
  2. Instant cash flow updating. When users change multiple data points, the forecast will reflect those changes automatically. No need to copy and paste anything to view the info you’re looking for––watch the visual forecast change in real time.

Time Is Money

Helm’s Rapid Forecasting feature allows users to create a detailed cash flow forecast in 1 hour or less. This quick turnaround on finished forecasts means the ability to generate many different projections in the time it would take to create 1 projection in a spreadsheet. For accountants and finance professionals, the efficiency of Rapid Forecasting means:

  1. Opportunity to support more clients with cash flow services––you know they need it!
  2. Ability to create more frequent reports––create revised forecasts as new data unfolds within the accounting system, and keep clients informed even when the realities of doing business might be changing.
  3. Convenience to create multiple forecasts that illustrate different hypothetical scenarios––is your client considering hiring or making a substantial purchase? Helm makes it easy to create a forecast for multiple situations to show how these decisions will impact their cash position over time.

Show, Don’t Just Tell

A typical cash flow forecast template in Excel looks like this when it’s populated with a client’s data:


Excel Example


Now this is what Helm’s Interactive Interface looks like:


Helm Screen Shot

Most people would not assume that these two images are showing the same type of information. Between the spreadsheet and Helm, which is easier to understand? Which forecast is easier to explain to clients without a background in finance? Which is the most intuitive?

Helm’s interface is undoubtedly more visual and expressive than a spreadsheet, making it the most accessible option that still offers powerful analytics. And for any professionals who will always feel more comfortable working within lines and columns, Helm does include a view similar to a traditional accounting table. You can easily switch between views to read the same data in multiple dynamic styles.

With Due Respect

Though it’s a classic tool, there are some real drawbacks to working solely within spreadsheets for cash flow forecasting and cash management. Helm was built by accountants, with ease-of-use and visualization as top priorities. We think that cash flow forecasting should be flexible, efficient, and understandable. Through the end of 2020, we’re even extending a special offer– you can open up to 5 new accounts in Helm for only $5 each. For intuitive, and efficient cash flow forecasting, check out Helm.