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Should You Rely On Excel For Your Cash Flow?


Who doesn’t love a good spreadsheet? At Float, we are big fans of Excel and spreadsheets, and we wouldn’t want to be without them – but that doesn’t mean they are the right tool for every job. This is particularly true when it comes to managing your cash, which is key to every business: available cash can mean the difference between success and having to close your company down. You want to make sure you know what is going on, not just today or last month, but in the future as well.

Managing your cash flow has two key components:

  • Planning your budgets (or projecting your forecast)
  • Tracking your actual spend

There are some great tools and tricks you can use to plan your budgets. There are for instance lots of Excel templates from Microsoft Office – some better than others. Even Xero offer advice on how to create a simple cashflow using the Xero cash summary report.

Although did they say simple? The Xero help section shows you the 15 steps to get your cashflow forecast. And yes, this method gives you a basic overview of your potential cash flow, but it takes a fair bit of work to get set up, and how do you make sure it’s up to date and realistic as time goes by? Well, you do it all again with updated data – and if your business is anything like ours, money comes in and goes out every single day, so who has time to do this on a daily basis – or even every week or month?


This is where Float comes in. We pull your data directly from Xero, so you immediately know what’s going on. Whenever you click on a button to import your data, Float loads any new transactions, so your actuals update and you can see if you’re on or over budget. Float is easy to set up, easy to keep track of, and we keep it all up to date for you.

Another downside to Excel is that it is hard to collaborate. Offline documents can end up having multiple versions that you need to reconcile if your team all contribute. The advantages of a cloud-based cashflow forecasting tool are that changes are live as you make them, your accountant can always look at the same data that you are, and with our Team plan, you can have your entire team working together on updating your cash flow – if that’s what you want.

So while Excel is great and spreadsheets can do many complex calculations on your data, it’s usually time-consuming, hard to keep up to date, there’s plenty of room for error in formulas or data entry, and you can’t effectively collaborate with your accountant or your team. Our recommendation: Dig into Excel when you need pivot tables and static data analysis, but for up to date, accurate cash flow projections and tracking, Float will rock your boat.


Colin Hewitt

CEO and Founder of Float, cash flow forecasting made easy.