How do you pick the best cashflow forecasting software for your business? Calxa vs Float is a look at 2 of the leading solutions for Xero or QuickBooks users. We recently featured both in our Top 5 Xero Cash Flow Alternatives article. Today, we will help you assess which might be best for your business. Or, when it might make sense to use one rather than the other.
The Quick Summary of Calxa vs Float
For those of you in a hurry, here is the very short version:
- Choose Float if you want a simple, transactional cashflow forecast.
- Use Calxa if you want monthly forecasts with full accounting integrity and all the other features Calxa offers from budgets to KPIs and more.
Now, let’s unpack that in a bit more detail.
|Cash Flow Requirements||Calxa||Float|
|Traditional Accrual Budgets||Yes||No|
|Balance Sheet Budgets||Yes||No|
|Multiple Company Consolidations||Yes||No|
How Does Cashflow Work in Float?
These two applications take radically different approaches to forecasting cashflow. Float starts from the open invoices and bills in your accounting system. It then shows when they are likely to be paid (or need paying). You can manually adjust the expected payment date. As a result, it then updates the cashflow forecast, much like the forecast built into Xero.
Beyond that, Float relies on you predicting your cashflow month by month, account by account. It will pick up recurring transactions from some accounting systems but, otherwise it’s a line by line editing job. The important thing to remember is that this isn’t a budget, or not in the traditional sense of a budget. You are forecasting the expected receipts from your sales each month as well as the expenses you will actually pay.
How Does Cashflow Work in Calxa?
Calxa builds on the traditional practices that accountants have used for decades. It starts from a Profit & Loss budget for future months. It then adds in anticipated movements in Balance Sheet accounts such as capital expenditure and loans. Finally, and this is where the intelligence and calculations are applied, it adjusts all of that for the timing of payments and receipts.
The result is a fully integrated, 3-way forecast of cashflow, profit & loss and balance sheet. You can do this monthly for up to 20 years.
How Are Cashflow Forecasts Presented in Float and Calxa?
Comparing Calxa vs Float is an important part of a cashflow tool evaluation. Especially, as the two apps are quite different in their approach.
In Float, you get a chart showing your predicted daily bank balance for the next few weeks. From there, you can see a daily breakdown and the invoices due and the bills to pay day by day. It is simple but also clear. That’s what it is supposed to do, and it does it well. If you have added a scenario with different predictions, it shows that nicely alongside your base prediction.
On the other hand, in Calxa, you can choose reports with a scale of 1 year (monthly) to 10 years (annually) with choices in between. There is a similar selection of charts to either show one forecast or, similarly to Float, compare 2 different scenarios.
Your choice comes down to timescale. If you are looking for something very short-term, Float will give it to you. If you are thinking more strategically and looking ahead more than a few months, Calxa is the answer.
Forecasting GST and VAT in Float Compared to Calxa
The basic difference here is that Calxa will calculate your current and future GST/VAT payments while for Float, they are just another budget item you need to add manually to your forecast. If you are looking at the next few weeks’ cashflow, that’s probably OK as your accounting system will tell you what your next payment is likely to be.
When you are looking ahead months or years, that’s when you need GST/VAT calculated for you. You want a good estimate of your PAYG/PAYE/Payroll Tax payments based on your wages. If your income and expenses change over time and your wages vary, you will want the taxes calculated for you. Of course, Calxa does that.
Calxa vs Float for Budgets
As we discussed above, the budgets in Float are really a cash flow forecast. When you are looking at Actuals from your accounting system as a guide to the future, make sure to run a cash-based report. There is a simple process where you can extrapolate budgets by a percentage or fixed amount each month, as well as a nifty 3-month average option. Here, you can set an amount to repeat every week or 2 weeks, similar to the repeating formulas in Calxa.
On the other hand, Calxa’s budgets are accrual-based. So they are directly comparable to the Profit & Loss information you get from your accounting system. For those who want to create a budget quickly, there is a Budget Factory wizard to copy from previous year’s actuals or budget. For those with complex needs, budget formulas can be driver-based, using non-financial metrics. If you are budgeting by cost centre or department, they will roll up to the organisation level. Notably, you get more flexibility in Calxa with the option to choose your date range and to switch between different layouts, depending on your needs.
Reporting on Budgets in Float or Calxa
If minimalism is what you want, then Float’s reports are for you. You will find the 6 of them under the Insights tab and they give you some basic comparisons of actuals to budgets. Again, be aware that these aren’t intended to be accounting reports. When Float shows Actuals vs Budgets, amounts will include GST/VAT and you will get totals for “Total cash incoming” and “Total cash outgoing”. This is contrary to the more traditional Income, Cost of Sales and Expense totals with a Profit line at the bottom. Float is focussed solely on cash movements.
On the other hand, Calxa will provide reports that any accountant will recognise. And lots of them. You can generate reports for a month, quarter or multiple years; month by month or month, year-to-date and last year. In addition, you can run them for one or many cost centres, one or many organisations.
Reporting on KPIs in Float and Calxa
This is a simple Calxa vs Float comparison. Basically put, Float doesn’t do any reporting on KPIs. That’s not a criticism, it is just not part of what they do.
How do Float and Calxa handle Consolidations and Cost Centres?
Similarly, Float doesn’t report on consolidated companies or on cost centres within a company. The focus is purely on managing the cashflow for one company, one at a time.
On the other hand, Calxa has the most comprehensive reporting for both consolidation of multiple entities and departmental or cost centre reporting. It handles an unlimited number of companies using any currency, with all the options you need to get the accounting just right for that.
Calxa’s Business Unit Trees give power and flexibility to reporting on cost centres, projects or departments. You can create a hierarchy within or across companies, whatever you need.
Summarising the Comparison of Calxa vs Float
Like most product comparisons, the result depends on the question you are asking.
What are you trying to achieve and what do you need for your business?
If you are in a cashflow crisis and need to know if you will have enough cash to pay wages next Tuesday, Float is the solution. Calxa won’t give you that detailed information.
Also, if you run a small business and you think in terms of cash amounts, Float may suit you better. Many café owners, for example, will look at their daily and weekly receipts, including the GST/VAT that’s been collected with that. They will think of wages in terms of the net amount paid to their staff each week. For these businesses, Float may be a perfect solution.
But, for those with an accounting background, who understand what an Income Statement or Profit & Loss report is, Calxa’s reports are more likely to be familiar and useful. If you are looking for a 3-way forecast to satisfy your bank, you will need Calxa to produce that.
Calxa can be simple: Connect to your accounting system, run a Budget Factory to create a budget and generate your first 3-way forecast in under half an hour. It can also manage complexity very well, whether that’s 1,000 projects in an organisation or 100 companies in a group.
Work out what your needs are and then it won’t be hard to decide which is the best tool for you. You will find both Calxa and Float on the Xero App Store.
Note from the Calxa Team
It is not uncommon for our new and existing Calxa customers to ask us how we compare to other apps. This prompted us to have a closer look at a number of Xero Cash Flow Tools.
The review was split across various members of the Calxa Team. We then collected this data and summarised it to create a series of comparison style content. These articles are designed to be helpful when you are evaluating functionality of a Xero Cashflow App.
We want to acknowledge that the world around us moves fast and changes are inevitable. Of course, technology developers make improvements to their apps all the time. This means, that some of our recount may be outdated by the time you read this.
So, please, keep this in mind when you digest this article. It simply reflects our point of view at the time of evaluating these Xero Apps.