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This is the second of four blogs on Quickbooks’ ability to help you see into the future.   In this one, we evaluate Quickbooks’ ability to create a short-term cash flow forecast.
Feature QBO Pro Prem Commentary
Cash Flow Projector Weekly cash flow for six week horizon.


From the menu, select Company > Planning and Budgeting > Cash Flow Projector.

The menu has five steps after the Welcome screen.

  1. You first select which bank account(s) they want to include in the cash flow.
  2. The next step Cash Receipts; you can choose automatic population (variations on the previous six weeks, or the same six week period from the prior year), or populate the figures manually. The Manual option allows you to input a date, a description, and an amount.
  3. Next come “Business Expenses”, which you input manually. These are any items that don’t appear on the AP list; the largest is likely to be payroll, followed by any recurring expenses such as rent and insurance.  You can select an amount, a start date, and a payment frequency.  If you specify that your Insurance premium is $1,000, paid once per month starting 1 January 2016, the Projector is smart enough to slot that in to 1 July when you run the forecast starting at 15 June.
  4. The final step picks up all the entries in the Accounts Payable subledger. It also picks up the payment dates and allows you to modify them.
  5. Click “Finish”.

All of the steps allow you to make an aggregate adjustment for each week’s expenses.  For example, if you have a placeholder of $1,000 for payroll, and you know that next week’s will actually be $1,050, you can adjust that week’s overall spend by $50.

Standard Reports

Only the one that comes out after you finish the Accounts Payable step.

Pro Con Commentary
✔✔ The wizard is simple and straightforward.
The wizard saves your changes after you close the report, meaning you only have to update (not re-key) the prior week’s data.
It’s confusing to have the manual dates appear in a column format, but you can jump to “Preview Projection” at any time to see how the details parse out to each week’s figures.
✖✖ It only spans six weeks, and probably should span twelve (three months).
You can’t annotate or provide commentary directly on the resulting report.
It doesn’t allow you to break down results by Class


Profit Breakthrough:

If your Boss needs to review the result, shell out for the multi-user mode, so that she can go into the module herself and tweak your first pass at the figures, saving the two of you a lot of back-and-forth via email.

Our Verdict

Quickbooks’ built in cash flow forecast is pretty good, actually.

It might be for you if: You have a simple cash flow that you had, or had planned to build, in Excel (One of our principles is “Get rid of Excel where you can.”).
It might not be for you if: Your business is more complex/ you need to forecast your cash flow by division;

Your “short term” lasts more than six weeks, or

You need a lot of detail in the workings because you’re caught in a cash crunch.

We welcome your Comments!  Please also feel free to Contact us, either via email or using our website.