Maintaining a cash flow culture with Fusion Excel Connect

10th November 2020

4 min read

Author: Emma Pownall, Marketing Director, Datel

The current operating environment has shifted focus for the majority of businesses from profit maximisation to cash flow preservation. With attention on overheads, spend and working with remote teams, finance leaders across the UK have adapted to ensure a strong focus on cash culture to maintain resilience and survive.

As many businesses head out of survival mode and towards the ‘next normal’, how do those heading up finance teams ensure they maintain this culture built within their teams and drive behaviour inside and outside of finance to maintain best practise in uncertain times?

We’ve caught up with Datel’s Finance Director Nick Swarbrick and R&D Director Tim Purcell to discuss how Excel based technology can support this very focus for businesses using Sage 200, Sage 1000 and Sage X3.

Here are their top three tips for maintaining a cash flow culture and how using Fusion Excel Connect with your Sage solutions can help:


1. Make sure time is saved within the finance function

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The first place to start is within the finance function and your area of control. With Sage software in place, there will already be a lot of good practice behind your finance processes, but there is a real opportunity to take a look at what is happening and where there is potential for further time saving. Highlighting time saving opportunities will reduce overhead requirements and free up finance staff to focus on the cash culture required going forward.

Nick shares his advice on where to start with uncovering time saving opportunities within the finance function: “Many finance teams are feeling resources are stretched by increased workload, enforced remote working and, in some cases, reduced teams due to furlough or redundancy. What you can’t afford to do in this environment is waste time on manual system tasks or rekeying data. Take a good look at the processes between much loved Excel spreadsheets and Sage and ask the question ‘what’s happening in between?’. If there is manual task taking place, there could be a simple switch to save time.”

With Fusion Excel Connect for Sage, users can work within the familiar environment of Excel, often within spreadsheets they have built and function as they need them to. The time saving comes from Fusion Excel Connect providing a direct link between Excel and your Sage solutions so that when the data is ready to be pushed into Sage, it can be done so with a click of a button.  The spreadsheet environment will also flag any errors against Sage’s validation rules, reducing the time needed to investigate issues then or at a later date.

2. Reduce errors and build standard practice across the business

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As a central hub for your cash flow culture, the data you receive from across the business can have a massive effect on the integrity of your Sage data, reporting and view of your cash position. If your teams are having to work hard to interpret and manipulate that data, they are less focused on the finance functions you need them to be working on. Adopting Fusion Excel Connect best practice to areas across the business that feed into your finance team can reduce the errors being dealt with on a daily basis and the need to manipulate data from various sources such as sales, services and operations.

Tim shares an example that is very relevant in the current working environment: “Expense management is a hot topic for many businesses focused on maintaining a cash flow culture currently. Finance teams are looking at how they manage what has historically been a very paper- based process.  Now being submitted and managed by remote teams for recording and payment, suddenly paper trails or long-winded Excel sheets need approval, manipulation and keying into Sage on a daily basis. The result is a slowdown of the flow of information, issues with the accuracy of the data and often each department having their own way of providing the information to Finance. We’ve found Fusion Excel Connect can improve this process without the need to revamp completely.”

By providing templates to the business that contain the ability for finance to feed them into Sage at a click of a button, Excel can continue to be used for these processes such as expense claims and credit card purchases. Once received by the finance team, Fusion Excel Connect can be used to validate and push the data straight into Sage. The users across the business are not required to have access to Fusion Excel Connect themselves, keeping control within the finance team while reducing the errors created from rekeying data into Sage.

3. Have more confidence in how real-time data is in Sage

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Achievable only when getting information into Sage takes less time and with fewer errors, the final piece of the puzzle is the speed at which data can be sitting within the live Sage system to be used for decision making. “In uncertain environments, knowing that data has reached the Sage solution in a timely manner can build trust in reporting and decision making when you need to act quickly,” says Nick. “By knowing that there aren’t expense forms waiting to be keyed in by the team or data needing to be pulled into ledgers from external systems - such as selling platforms - means you can trust that you have a real-time view of your cash position to drive what you need to do next.”

Tim agrees, “What Fusion Excel Connect reduces is that time lag between something happening, the data hitting Sage in the right format and the insight being realised by key decision makers. That can be make-or-break in this current environment.  A perfect example of this comes from businesses that are selling via multiple channels, something we’ve seen come about even more during the last six months. If you are a business that sells via your own e-Commerce sites, Amazon and eBay, to name a few, all that data needs to make its way in to Sage in a timely fashion to give a real-time view of your business.  Fusion Excel Connect can be utilised to pull the data into Excel from various sources, manipulate and push into Sage quickly and easily, reducing the screens in Sage your finance team needs to go through to get to the same end result.”