Partner Interview | CEO Nicolas Christiaen about how and why they built Cashforce NextGen, the ‘next generation’

05-10-2021 | treasuryXL | Cashforce

 

Why did Cashforce create the ‘NextGen’? What’s the vision behind this great concept? We have asked CEO Nicolas Christiaen 10 questions regarding the creation of the NextGen platform.

Find out why Cashforce created NextGen, what makes it unique and what solution the platform offers to treasurers.

Introduction Nicolas

Nicolas Christiaen is the CEO and Co-founder of Cashforce, an industry leading cash forecasting and working capital insights system. Nicolas has an extensive background in finance analytics, cash management and cash forecasting. He has led the effort to bring Cashforce to multi-national firms in distribution/retail, manufacturing and logistics/services industries. Nicolas uses his experience to drive both product development and thought leadership within Cashforce, resulting in a user base that benefits, not only from the system, but also the best practices that helped design it. Prior to Cashforce Nicolas worked as a management consultant at PwC and was a serial entrepreneur, founding two other software companies. He is frequently a guest speaker in the FinTech community and you will often find him on panels at international treasury conferences.

 

Introduction NextGen

Cashforce is a “next generation” cash forecasting and working capital analytics solution focused on automation and integration. By using Cashforce’s cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform, corporates can unlock the potential for their data to help make smarter decisions, saving time and money in the process. Cashforce can consume a large variety of data, process that data using machine learning and get insights into cash flows and working capital. Cashforce NextGen eliminates the manual and cumbersome treasury tasks around cash forecasting, enabling its users to take advantage of AI-powered scenarios and a strong workflow for distributed treasury teams. The Cashforce system serves mid-to-large-sized corporates and is currently being used at over 70 companies and as many countries.

INTERVIEW

1. Can you remember your “A-ha!” moment that made you realize Cashforce NextGen needed to be built?

Yes, I can remember it well. We were working on a proof-of-concept exercise with a huge dataset, imagining ways to manage this large amount of complex data. We have always tried to challenge ourselves to look for ways to do things better. Our technical team of UX and system performance specialists began laying out the case to use the latest technology to provide, not only the functionality, but also the scalability and performance we would need to meet projected commitments and fulfill the product vision. The team did a fantastic job and really showed me the “art of the possible”. That did it for me and we immediately switched gears to figure out how we could make this happen.

2. What critical issue does the Cashforce NextGen immediately resolve for the treasurer?

Right now, treasurers struggle to provide their stakeholders with accurate forecasts. This is due to the difficulty of consolidating data into one place, and dealing with complexities like intercompany payments, various payment behaviors and overdues. Treasury practitioners want to be able to drill into the data and to use the output to make important decisions from “how much excess cash do I have to invest for the short term?” to “how much cash will we have in three months when our planned acquisition closes”? It is hard to do that when your forecast is sub-par. Cashforce helps you pull data from every location where it resides so you can start with a complete picture. Then we layer our analytics on top of that, so that you have a clear picture of what is coming in and going out. The result is that the forecasted cash positions become meaningful enough that you can incorporate them into strategic plans.

3. How does the new platform differentiate from the other players in the market?

Cashforce began its journey from a working capital analysis point-of-view and we built our cash forecasting capabilities on top of that by linking to ERP systems. This had the effect of enriching the quality of the forecasts that we could generate and made them more useful. The ERP connectors themselves are a large differentiator: they ensure a seamless flow of granular, system-based data. This creates a fully transparent view into cash. On top of that, Cashforce applies smart forecasting logic (including AI-based algorithms, P&L-to-Cash logic, payment behavior analysis…) to build highly accurate and automated forecasts for the short, mid & long term. An intelligent simulation engine allows the Treasury department to evaluate different scenarios, analyze their impact and calculate the forecast/actuals variance.

4. Can each ERP system work with the Cashforce NextGen also when you work with multiple ERP’s located in different countries?

Yes, we have many clients that use Cashforce to pull in data from multiple ERP’s. Sometimes it is different instances of the same ERP, and sometimes it is a different ERP altogether. Either way, we configure Cashforce to pull in the needed data automatically, so that the end-users can start using the system with the data already loaded.

5. What is the biggest challenge you experienced while creating this new platform?

When you are trying to build a really remarkable product, there is always a tension between the ideal vision, the dream state, and what development can realistically deliver to meet market and client expectations and keep our overall momentum. On top of that, the pandemic struck while we were in the middle of our efforts, and this put an enormous strain on our timelines, productivity and ability to collaborate in real-time in the way you need to make something special. Doing that through web meetings can slow things down quite a bit, but luckily we already had a solid plan, an established process and an effective line of communication. This enabled us to keep going and now that we are moving back to normal, we are positioned to get out there and show what NextGen can do.

6. What is, in your perception, the biggest benefit of working with Cashforce NextGen?

As we brought Cashforce NextGen to market, we found that several benefits jumped out to our clients: Time-savings, Money-savings and the ability to use knowledge of your current and future cash positions to elevate forecasting to a strategic level. Many of our clients need to actively manage cash to invest or borrow properly, as needed and to make acquisitions. But they are using old tools and forecasting modules that simply didn’t give them what they needed. With NextGen, we have the highest degree of automation, the best workflow, the latest AI and machine learning models to improve forecasting and it all sits in a great user interface that is so easy to use. Sorry to not say one benefit, but the truth is the benefits are many.

7. What is the overall feeling of your customers about NextGen?

Our customers are very excited about the new product, just as we are. Prior to development, we made sure to meet with our clients, share the vision and gather their feedback, especially pain points. It was a great feeling when we went back to them to show our first demonstration of NextGen, you could feel the excitement in the air.

8. Can you give us an outlook on the product developments and tell us a bit more about your vision?

Cashforce’s vision has always been to save time and money for finance and treasury departments. Over the years, we have accumulated expertise around different approaches to short- mid-and long-term forecasting, connectivity with different ERP’s and TMS’s, designing sustainable workflows and integrating technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. We want to leverage this knowledge alongside future-facing technologies, such as APIs, to create a new platform that is state-of-the-art and capable of consuming billions of transactions in real-time. However, we don’t plan to stop at consolidation and analysis of the data. We are working with our clients to build out the system to take the “next action”in their treasury processes. By linking with trade execution platforms and Treasury Management Systems (TMS), Cashforce will be a decision-making engine that drives our customers’ workflows.

9. The world is always changing, how does Cashforce stay one step ahead of its competitors?

The treasury world is always changing and will always be changing. It’s up to us to change with it and keep up with shifting consumer needs. Companies that focus on the past tend to stay in the past. So you must know what technology is out there, what is possible, what is available, what works and what doesn’t. For example, AI and machine learning will become ubiquitous and woven into the fabric of finance and treasury. That is why we want to lead the charge to use new methods and new technology. The better informed our clients are, the better prepared they will be to handle these changes as they happen.

10. Looking back on your Cashforce career, what is ‘the thing’ you are most proud of?

I have had the opportunity to work with some very talented people at Cashforce. I am most proud of our ability to create an environment that empowers our people to be as successful as they can. To see these talented people bring Cashforce NextGen to life has been an amazing experience.

 

 

 

Helping Hand: Using Cashforce to Manage Growth Through M&A

24-08-2021 | treasuryXL | Cashforce

How one treasurer used Cashforce technology to improve forecasting and support growth.

When one treasurer saw that his team was getting too bogged down managing the company’s dozens of bank accounts across 25 entities, he sought out an automated cash management system, but he had a concern: the company is continually growing through mergers and acquisitions, and in the past, new accounts made everything muddy.

  • The process of integrating a new entity and any accounts it brings along can be cumbersome—and who knows if their ERP would even be compatible with the automated solution he chooses?
  • He said that Cashforce, a cash forecasting and working capital analytics solution that can work with multiple ERPs, was the answer. “Cashforce’s ability to take feeds from multiple ERP systems was big.”

New accounts, new problems. 

Before turning to Cashforce, the treasurer had significant capital committed to grow the business through acquisitions. He only had two or three people managing this aspect, and he said the company’s TMS offered little assistance.

  • “Cash is our lifeline,” he said. “To me, the most important thing is knowing how much cash we have and where it is.
    • “We’re not over-leveraged, but we’re leveraged,” he said, so finding a cash management solution that provides quick access to every detail was crucial.
  • But the treasurer said his company doesn’t expect accounts that come with newly acquired companies to work with its preexisting ERP system. Cashforce, which can take data feeds from new ERP systems, was the key.
  • “We needed a cash management solution that integrated with our current ERPs and future ERPs to be able to feed data into the tool,” he said.

Feel the force.

Because Cashforce can take those inputs, the treasurer said it could work. But would it actually save enough time, and free up cash through efficient management of working capital? The solution, he said, had four clear advantages that made cash forecasting “a lot more accurate” in just six months:

  1. Ease of use, with data visualization tools that teams can use without having to dig into reams of numbers.
  2. The ability to drill down into the data into transaction-level detail.
  3. The ability to take these now automatically generated data-driven insights to management instead of spreadsheets.
  4. The ability to view daily bank positions.

Feel the force. 

Because Cashforce can take those inputs, the treasurer said it could work. But would it actually save enough time, and free up cash through efficient management of working capital? The solution, he said, had four clear advantages that made cash forecasting “a lot more accurate” in just six months:

  1. Ease of use, with data visualization tools that teams can use without having to dig into reams of numbers.
  2. The ability to drill down into the data into transaction-level detail.
  3. The ability to take these now automatically generated data-driven insights to management instead of spreadsheets.
  4. The ability to view daily bank positions.

Bonus: data literacy.

 An added “unofficial” benefit of Cashforce that the treasurer added was change management—the opportunity to get a once data-hesitant team to embrace the possibilities offered by analytics.

  • Though he wasn’t intending on using Cashforce to manage credit and collections, through encouraging his team to dig into the data, “one of the biggest advantages is I got my C&C manager to give me a much more accurate forecast.

 

 

Tips & Tricks for optimizing Forecasting & Working capital

| 30-06-2020 | Cashforce |

The economy is poised for a rebound due to pent-up household demand coupled with historically low inventories. Businesses need to start preparing for the surge in orders and ensure they can sufficiently manage working capital and continue to finance their operations in the most efficient way.

Automating key elements of the Order-to-Cash process will allow businesses to absorb this revenue growth with their existing resources, while generating greater sums of liquidity — ensuring they can stay on top of their cash conversion cycles without the need for expensive and risky borrowing.

Watch Rob Harvey from Sidetrade alongside Nicolas Christiaen, CEO & Co-founder of Cashforce.

A few key points discussed in this session:

  • The importance of thinking about the process first to understand your cash flow drivers and to define what you want to measure.
  • Key to automating your processes is to start small, land & expand.
  • Create synergies by effectively combining cash & working capital data.
  • Building the business case internally by calculating the different aspects that bring ROI.

Are you ready for the economy to bounce back?

Watch this session on-demand Here

 

Press release | New Cashforce office in Warsaw, Poland fuels its cash forecasting product excellence

08-06-2021 | treasuryXL | Cashforce

Cashforce, an innovative Cash Forecasting and Working Capital Analytics solution provider, has announced it will open a new office in Warsaw, Poland to expand the company’s activities. This new office will further accelerate Cashforce’s growth and market presence on a global scale with the addition of a new technical team. For this expansion, various product-focused positions are becoming available, ranging from Chief Architect and team leaders to analysts and front-end/back-end engineers.

“We are delighted to share the news of the opening of our product-focused branch. Together with our new platform which launches soon, we continue to push the frontier of Cash Forecasting & Working Capital product excellence,” said Nicolas Christiaen, CEO of Cashforce.

Cash forecasting remains a top priority of any corporate and Cashforce offers a unique solution to assist finance and treasury departments in this challenge. Building upon years of experience, we’re reinforcing the vision to save time and cash by offering automated Cash Forecasting technology. Our new platform is equipped with real-time data processing capabilities, an intuitive user-experience that lowers the barrier to entry and enhanced (AI-powered) scenario building capabilities.

Jan Bakker, COO of Cashforce, adds: “It’s great to see our global presence ramping up. By reinforcing the product team with various technical positions, we’re ready to further integrate the latest and greatest technologies into our product.”

As a Fintech scale-up disrupting the treasury space, we are experiencing substantial international growth. To make our ambitious vision a reality, we are looking for motivated candidates to join us in creating a world-class product. Of course, it all starts with the amazing people. You can become a part of a dynamic and global team that encourages ownership, diversity and personal growth. Learn more about our company culture here.

WANT TO BE A PART OF OUR FINTECH EXPERIENCE? FIND OUT MORE ON OUR OPEN POSITIONS HERE.

___

Cashforce is a ‘next-generation’ Cash Forecasting & Working Capital Analytics solution, focused on automation and integration. Our cloud-based software enables corporates to unlock their data and create smarter decisions, saving time and money. By integrating internal & external company data (ERPs, TMS, data lakes etc) and processing them through machine learning techniques, our SaaS solution provides insight into Cash Flows & Working Capital, automates manual and cumbersome Treasury tasks and enables AI-powered-scenarios. Cashforce is used by midsize and large corporates and has users in over 120 countries.

When Cash is key, Cash Forecasting and Working Capital leads your company towards a crystal-clear future. When Cash is key … Cashforce.

 

Press contact
Benjamin Bergers
[email protected]
+32 (0) 479 66 27 21

 

Texpo Webinar | Dark Data- Search, Collate, Conquer – Making Sense of Unstructured Cash Forecasting Data

| 08-06-2021 | treasuryXL | Cashforce

Our Partner Cashforce is holding a webinar hosted by Texpo, in which the topic ‘Dark Data: Search, Collate, Conquer – Making Sense of Unstructured Cash Forecasting Data’  is presented together with  David Jacoboski, CTP (Drew Marine).  Dark data is defined as unused or hidden data from relevant departmants in your business, which might have intrinsic value. Watch the full webinar below ??

 

Overcoming Resistance | Integrating Data in Cash Flow Forecasting

| 17-05-2021 | treasuryXL | Cashforce |

Treasurers at mid-cap Corporates looking to use large-scale data analysis to enhance cash flow forecasting are finding colleagues hesitant.

The advantages of using sophisticated data analysis in cash flow forecasting are clear to a growing number of treasurers intent on improving accuracy and eliminating human error. But implementing and executing a data-driven approach often requires collaboration with teams outside treasury, such as AR and credit collections—and some NeuGroup members are meeting resistance.

  • Solid support from leadership and showing the benefits of data analysis may make the transition smoother and help get members of other teams on board.
  • That key insight emerged from a recent discussion at a meeting of NeuGroup for Mid-Cap Treasurers, sparked by a presentation about data-enhanced cash flow forecasting from Cashforce. Read an earlier article from Neugroup here.
  • “A data mindset requires an analytical filter,” one member said, and if another team does not thrive on data, it takes some effort to get colleagues to buy in.

Overcoming intimidation. “I like to be very data-driven,” one member said. “Sometimes that doesn’t go over well in our company. It can be intimidating to people.”

  • “When you start questioning trends, it doesn’t always make people feel very good,” she continued. “I think there can be a lot of defensiveness.”
  • Another treasurer said that, in his experience, “having access to data and showing it to [staff] kind of scares them. People say they want to change—people don’t want to change.”
  • Though there can be a learning and implementation period, he said he was able to find success by stressing how much time data analysis could save in the long run.

Navigating collaboration. Some members said teams that consistently set low expectations for cash flow are often obstacles to using data that produces different, more accurate forecasts. “There can be sandbagging in the forecast, people can be resistant to being more optimistic,” one member said.

  • Another said that, though she would like to see the company implement a more data-focused model for cash flow, it would be too great a challenge to work with functions that don’t fit under the treasurer and do not share the data mindset.
  • One treasurer said his company is having these issues with its AR team, which does not report to him. “When you compare quarters, [we are] 10-15% over our forecast,” he said. “There’s a disconnect.”

Teamwork, dream work. That member said he was able to work with his company’s AR team to incorporate data and effectively eliminate the issue, though there was initial reluctance.

  • He recommends a single individual in a management role spearhead this kind of change. “If it is more driven by one leader, it is easier to shield criticism and make a right decision.”
  • The member said another source of friction can be FP&A and other finance or business leaders outside of treasury who want to maintain oversight of forecasts.
  • Though there is value in working together to incorporate data for forecasting, he said, “the entire organization needs to be ready to become more objective rather than try to manage divisions.”

 

Webinar Recording: The importance of cash management during the crisis | the impact of the pandemic

| 31-03-2021 | treasuryXL | Cashforce |ACT

Rewatch ACT’s session ‘The importance of Cash management during the crisis: the impact of the Pandemic’ with David Shinkins (Barclays), James Marshall (Virgin Media), Hailey Laverty Hotels & Resorts) & Nicolas Christiaen from our Partner Cashforce.

 

 

 

Webinar recording: Cashforce & TIS are Partnering Up to Deliver Best-of-Breed Technology

| 17-03-2021 | treasuryXL | Cashforce | TIS

Cashforce & TIS are partnering up to deliver best-of-breed technology. Watch the webinar recording with Nicolas Christiaen and Joerg Wiemer and get to know more about this best-of-breed approach and how this partnership can help you tackle your challenges in cash flow forecasting and corporate payments.

 

 

 

Corporate Liquidity Forum: The Resilient Digital Treasury

| 04-02-2021 | Cashforce

Next week, our Partner Cashforce is speaking at Citi’s 2021 Corporate #Liquidity Forum: The Resilient Digital #Treasury Global Conference together with their client Kiera Agnew, assistant treasurer at Kellogg Company. During this event, Treasury Trends & Priorities, Cash & Liquidity Management, and more interesting Treasury Topics will be discussed. Don’t miss it!

? February 10th, 10am – 12pm EST (4pm – 6pm CET)

Key Topics include:

  • Economic Outlook
  • 2021 Treasury Trends & Priorities
  • Global Outlook for Liquidity Management
  • New Business Models and the Evolution of Treasury
  • Cash Flow and Real-Time Liquidity Innovation

 

For More Information and How to Register click HERE ?

 

 

 

Getting Granular: A Tool to dig deeper and Improve Cash Forecasts

03-02-2021 | Cashforce | treasuryXL |

Covid-19 shook the foundations of Cash Flow forecasting and Working Capital Management for companies facing uncertainty about revenues, vendor payments, appropriate inventory levels and adequate cash reserves.

  • At a recent NeuGroup virtual interactive session, one participant impressed others by describing how a Fintech solution provided by Cashforce a year earlier allowed his company to dig into the weeds of business operations, examining line-item details of cash flows to prepare for and absorb shocks to liquidity.
  • That ability helped treasury provide real value to the company when the internal spotlight landed on the team during the pandemic.

Digging into details: Cashforce opened a window to a more accurate cash picture by revealing what was going on across the business and how various moving ‘levers’ were rapidly changing, the treasurer said.

  • The technology tracked the granular details of cash flows and highlighted respective drivers that helped identify areas of business behaving normally and those under greater stress from delays in customer receipts.
  • The resulting insights facilitate setting baseline expectations and seeing potential roadblocks so that treasury teams can have productive conversations with operations teams about changes, new products, etc. so that business intelligence is layered into forecasts appropriately.

The velocity and veracity of data. Covid-19 has called more attention to the need for banking APIs and the harmonization of data feeds into a single analytical source. Real-time mandates are now the norm: Everyone wants payment information in real time, with consolidated cash positions at the press of a button. This greater level of urgency has driven the need for cash flow forensics and analytics.

  • 82% of participants polled have accelerated plans to automate and digitize treasury operations since the pandemic (see chart above for details).
  • Cashforce stressed that all processes surrounding cash flow and working capital optimization must be revisited to accomplish real-time goals. Across companies, they are seeing an emergence of a cash culture away from the heavy focus solely on earnings.

 

 

This shift requires links to AI models so treasury practitioners can determine cash flow drivers not easily spotted by the human eye because they are in the weeds of massive amounts of data.

The data is there; why can’t we get to it? Simply put by one member: Most treasury management systems (TMSs) are not designed to house the magnitude of transaction-level data nor provide the analytic capabilities needed for transparent cash forecasting and best-in-breed working capital analytics.

  • For example, not all TMSs are able to take in various data streams or extrapolate trends to build cash flow patterns into a cash forecast. For companies with multiple ERPs, the complexity and volume of data becomes exponentially difficult to manage and impossible to analyze manually.
  • Algorithms designed to roll up your sleeves for you and dig into transaction-level detail to predict trends and flag anomalies provide a structure for cash optimization and a safeguard for deviations that threaten liquidity.
  • Measure KPIs to move the needle. Automated calculations and daily reporting on key indicators through Cashforce tools allow for expedited metrics that enable smart decision making and facilitate improving working capital through analytics.

Wedded bliss: Marrying short-term direct to long-term indirect cash forecasts! Treasury and FP&A forecast disconnects are common sources of reconciliation tension across companies.

  • Cashforce uses a “rules engine” that takes ERP data to transform the indirect P&L components into direct cash flow drivers and calculate timing parameters based on historical trends.
  • One member inquired about the possibility of forecasting by purchase order and was pleased to hear that once the purchase order details were transferred into the system, algorithms calculate cash amounts and timing for both “open ended or closed” purchase orders, taking the headache out of what is often a guessing game.