The more our customers use chata.ai, the more we train. We get excited about learning new queries because it means we are always getting better and becoming a more powerful tool for our customers.
We’re proud to have trained millions of types of questions and continue to train more every day. Check out these queries:
March 26, 2019
Budgets vs. Actuals – How accurate is your budget?
Setting budgets – whether they be related to expenses, revenues or accounts – is undeniably important, but it is only one small part of a much bigger picture. Following up to determine what was initially planned versus what happened – comparing budgets vs. actuals – allows you to see how accurate your goal tracking was and to assess the need for potential modifications.
One of the greatest benefits of budgets is that they are not set in stone; budgeting is an agile process. Intentional adjustments can and should be made to budgets to increase the value and accuracy of your future forecasting. More importantly, adjustments should be rooted from a meaningful understanding of your data.
Additionally, many businesses may function with “use it or lose it” budgets. This is common in the not-for-profit sector with government grants or within specific business departments such as the Sales division. Being able to track where you are in comparison with your available budget for the year can ensure you maximize your ROI for fund allocation.
With chata.ai, you can now explore budgets vs. actuals, allowing you to generate useful information that will lead to powerful insights about the state of your business.
- which months were we over budget on for expenses?
- which months were we over budget by 20% or more for sales?
- which revenue accounts were we under budget on by 10% or more last month?
- compare sales to budget per month for the last 12 months
- compare total expenses to budget last quarter
- what accounts were we under budget on?
The objective of comparing budgets to actuals is ultimately about understanding and responding to variance. If you’re under budget by a significant variance, this could mean you made sacrifices for substantial gains. An example? A retail store that is under budget with a high variance in labour could indicate they were understaffed, resulting in a potentially negative customer service experience. The lesson lies in the data, but the insights lie in your understanding of the variance.
Tip: Low variance is the goal, but any amount of variance can ultimately tell you a lot about what is going on.
February 11, 2019
Historical account balances – get the full picture in 60 seconds
Analyzing historical account data is traditionally associated with a major headache. The painful process of running custom reports in your financial management system, pulling data into excel and then either manipulating the data to make sense of it or digging through rows of data to identify any questionable items is what clients pay you the big bucks for.
Well actually, they pay you to tell them the stories that can only be found by digging through all that data… until now.
With chata.ai that 60 minutes of digging can be turned into 60 seconds of query.
That gives you additional time, and mental energy, to really analyze what the results mean for your client.
Before we dig into how chata.ai can help your review process let’s talk first about why it is important to be able to dig into the history of accounts.
Reason number 1:
Reviewing account history can present patterns of income and expenses over a specific period. Financial professionals can use this information to create cashflow forecasts, budgets, or operations financial plans.
Reason number 2:
By analyzing account history, you can discover recurring purchases, sales or other trends based on factors like seasons and weather type. This can help with tasks like vendor management or inventory turnover planning.
Reason number 3:
Finally, you can use historical account data to identify any questionable transaction records. Whether it is fraud, repeat entry of an expense, or an expense that is way higher than normal for that account, or someone made an error within the cloud accounting software, this is very important! “If the assets and funds of an organization do not match their expected levels, the account history can provide a financial roadmap to discover where errors or areas of concern are living.” Read more about the importance of account history.
Whether you are just starting to develop review processes, or you want to optimize your current operations – chata.ai can help.
To get started, you will want to get familiar with the data in the client file. You will likely only need to do this once. We recommend setting up automated reports so this process is truly a no-brainer. To view a list of accounts so you can query for specifics, ask chata.ai:
- All accounts
- All liabilities accounts
- All asset accounts
- All expense accounts
Once you are familiar with specific account names, you can start to get into the details.
- Account balance by month ytd
- Balance per account by month last year
>>>Click on a data point to drill down to get a detailed list of transactions
>>>Easily visualize patterns and trends in a heatmap
Quickly dig into a specific account, such as the “Due to shareholder” account, to understand what actions need to be taken at year-end. For example:
- Due to shareholder [or other account] account balance
- Due to shareholder [or other account] account balance by month ytd
- Due to shareholder [or other account] all transactions this fiscal year
It is important to have a clear goal in mind when you begin a historical account analysis. Depending on your use case for historical account data, you will want to customize your reporting and dashboards so they tell the story that makes sense for you, or your client. Connect with our Customer Success team today to get started.
November 26, 2018
Number of new customers – a key sales & marketing metric
New customers you acquire in a specific time frame is an excellent metric to track the progress of your sales and marketing initiatives. You can just query:
- Number of new customer last month
- Number of new customers in the last 3 months
- List all new customers in the last 6 months
- Number of new customers YTD
You can also use this information to create targeted marketing campaigns, custom content, and ideas for upselling. Get to know what your new customers are purchasing by querying:
- Total sales for [specific customer] last month
- List all sales for [specific customer] last month
- All sales by line item to [specific new customer]
>>>Check out this article by email marketing tool, Constant Contact, on the importance of data quality for small business marketing: Why Data Quality is a Small Business Problem Too, and What to Do About It
November 12, 2018
Comparing your expenses to income: Business Planning
If you are a growth-focused business owner or an advisor, creating a plan and closely monitoring finances is critical to achieving set targets. When you are in the weeds with the day-to-day operations it can be challenging to monitor performance.
chata.ai can help. A great place to start is by researching your past performance and setting up easy reporting to monitor trends. Try these income and expense queries to kick off your game planning session:
- Average income and average expenses per month last year
- Average income and average expenses per month for the last 3 months
- Total income and expenses for last month
You can also think of this in terms of an expense to sale ratio. Just query:
- What were my expenses for the last 3 months as a percentage of income
- What were my expenses for the last year as a percentage of income
Use your data to plan the work >>> then work the plan!
October 31, 2018
Cash Flow (Show me the money!)
For business owners, cash is key. Cash flow determines your resources, budgets and ultimately your growth. Channel your inner Jerry Maguire with these queries and we’ll show you the money!
Keep in mind:
Cash flow is money in and money out
Inflow is just money in
Outflow is just money out
- What is my cash inflow this month?
- What was my cash outflow last month?
- What is my cash flow for the last three months?
- Show me cash flow by customer for the last three months?
- Cash flow by customer by month for the last three months
- Average cash flow per quarter
Tip >>> using these cash flow queries in chata.ai is a great way to keep a high-level pulse on what is going on with your business and help you to start planning. Pair the power of chata.ai with our favourite forecasting app, Dryrun, and take the next steps in planning for the future growth of your business.
October 4, 2018
Track your profits by class
Utilizing classes or tracking categories in your cloud accounting software can help you get answers you need quickly and easily by organizing your data effectively. You can use classes to track categories for revenue streams, business departments, locations and expenses to help you monitor important trends and make proactive decisions. Reporting on class types is now even easier using chata.ai.
Easily report and track your profits based on class by using the following queries in a template:
- What was the class with the highest net profit last month
- What was the class with the highest net profit last year
- What were top 5 classes by total profit YTD
- List total profit by class by month for the last 6 months (this gives you a beautiful pivot table!)
Check out these two “How-To” articles to get started with tracking classes (QuickBooks Online) or tracking categories (Xero):
September 20, 2018
Pivot Tables: Compare related pieces of data at the same time
Being able to compare two important components impacting your financial data has been tough – until now. chata.ai has recently learned how to do pivot tables. Now you can easily extract and compare data by using queries like:
- Total expenses per supplier per month last year
- Total revenue by customer by month last 3 months
- COGS per customer by product last 6 months
Your data will be presented to you in an easy to read pivot table >>>
Tip >>> If you want to visualize this type of information a different way, ask chata.ai for a heat map or a bubble chart by clicking the option on the top left corner of your pivot table result. Next steps: drill down to get the details right with one click on a piece of data in your table.
August 30, 2018
Digging through countless transactions, finding customer receipts and then verifying inventory up against sales receipts can be dizzying. Try some of these queries to help get a handle on that paper trail.
- All sales receipts for <<product name>>
- Total and average sales receipts this month
- List all sales receipts for <<customer name>>
You can also query “List all Invoices”. Asking “List all sales transactions” will give you the full list of sales receipts and invoices.
Tip>>> We’ve preloaded a Sales Template in your chata.ai account, give it a try. You can now easily add and take away queries from templates by simply editing the master copy.
August 28, 2018
Accounts Payable: Bills
Tracking unpaid bills is now as simple as just asking, so you’ll never pay late again.
- List all unpaid bills
- List all unpaid bills for the last 30 days
- All bills per account
- Total bills per quarter
You can also simply ask “Who do I owe money to?” You will receive a list of vendors and your total outstanding bills. Go ahead and click on a vendor to drill down and get to the details.
Tip>>> Bills are a reality of any business and most recur on a monthly basis. Set up a template, using our new template builder in chata.ai to track your bills and who you owe money to. Visibility with your AP has never been easier.
August 23, 2018
Sales tax is a complex challenge for many businesses! It must be taken into consideration for both sales and purchase transactions.
On top of that, the complexity increases as the business landscape changes through advances in technology and resulting compliance standards
Head spinning? We can help! Start to understand how sales tax is impacting your business by asking questions.
- Show me all sales tax per month
- Total sales tax last month
- Total invoices and total sales tax
>>> Have you heard about “economic nexus”? Check out this article & watch the videos from our friends at Avalara: South Dakota vs Wayfair – Economic Nexus.
- You can query “total sales per state last year” to understand where you may need to take action.
August 21, 2018
Evaluating your customers
Getting to know your customers and how they impact your bottom line is vital to your business. There’s multiple ways you can assess their behavior over time. Identify the true quantitative value of a customer by determining their percentage or ratio of the big picture. You can also look at how long it truly takes them to get the cash flowing. Ask questions like:
- Percent total income per customer
- Percent total income per customer per month
- Average days to pay per customer
- Average days to pay per customer per month
An even more powerful query:
- Total sales divided by average days to pay per customer
How long would it take you to find these answers without chata.ai?!
August 16, 2018
All business owners benefit from having a handle on their day-to-day business transactions. With chata.ai it’s easy to explore your transactions by customer, date and transaction type. Just ask questions like:
- Total expense transactions by account
- All transactions from Tommy Joe [or any of your customers] for 2018
- All revenue transactions from July 2018 above $2000
Tip >>> Although our system can disambiguate or understand the context of your question, it is helpful to be specific on what type of transaction you are looking for. For example, use the phrasing “expense transaction” or a “revenue transaction.”
August 14, 2018
Cost of Goods Sold
When looking at how to increase your gross profit, it is important to understand your cost of goods sold and monitor trends so that you can plan ahead. Just query:
- Total COGS last month
- COGS per product last month
- COGS per product per customer last month
- Change in COGS per month last 3 months
- Total COGS per month last 12 months
Tip >>> Set up a template or run a report that includes queries on gross profit, cost of goods sold and inventory to get the full picture.
July 26, 2018
Estimates and Purchase Orders (PO) numbers
For many product or service-based businesses, tracking estimates and open purchase orders from clients can be a headache. Keep track of issued estimates and the progress of purchase orders with these queries + chata.ai:
- All accepted estimates from May 2018
- Open estimates for Home Depot
- Total estimates by status
- All pending estimates this month
- All pending estimates above $200
- All open purchase orders
- All open purchase orders for July 2018
- All open purchase orders for July above $500
- All open purchase orders for July above $200 for Home Depot
- Count open POs for June
- Closed purchase orders June 2017
Tip >>> To get a quick list of all of your estimates and POs that are saved in your accounting software, simply ask ‘all POs’ or ‘all estimates’ – you can then explore further by asking more specific questions about certain clients, vendors, time frames, and status.
July 19, 2018
Being able to ask questions about the last time your accounting data was reconciled is important in ensuring transactions in your accounting software match what you have in the bank.
Examples of questions you can ask:
- All reconciled transactions
- All unreconciled transactions this month
- Show me reconciled transactions over $500 last month
- Show me reconciliation discrepancies
- All unreconciled transactions this quarter
Tip >>> With our latest update, you can query your reconciled and unreconciled transactions, so you can find discrepancies and ensure the data you are querying is accurate and up to date.
June 21, 2018
Unless you are a super genius and can remember exact quantities of a product you have on hand – chata.ai can now help jog your memory with queries like:
- Total quantity on hand per product
- How many boilers did I sell
- All item purchases
Tip>>> With our mobile app, you can now check inventory from your phone, while you’re on the jobsite. Take the guess work out of quantity on hand – from the palm of your hand.
Tip >>> From our friend Seth David at Nerd Enterprises, learn more about the e-commerce inventory cycle.
June 19, 2018
Gross profit calculations can be complicated for some and time consuming for others. Until now.
Now, you can just ask. chata.ai can calculate your revenue less cost of goods sold in a flash! Here is just a snap shot of just a few types of profit queries that we can now handle:
- Total profit per customer last month
- Compare profit month over month
- What is my gross profit per quarter?
- Total profit per product per month
Tip>>> Make sure when inputting expenses into your account that you have linked your “class” to your “expense”. This way you will get a more accurate answer of your gross profit calculation
Did you know? >>> “Total profit per product” is one of many calculations that can’t be done directly in QBO? One more reason to sign-up for chata.ai.
June 12, 2018
chata.ai has received a “query boost” recently!
- total and average sales per item this month
- total and average sales per customer per item this month
- change in total sales per item per month
Tip >>> Try different time periods instead of “this month”. You can ask “this year”, “last year”, “January 2017 – March 2017”, “from the last three months”, “from the last three days” etc.
- all open invoices
- customer balance
- all customers with outstanding invoices
- How much does Lew Plumbing owe me?
Tip>>> Drill down! Run one of the above queries like, “customer balance”. Click on one of the customers that appears and you will be shown all of the transactions that make up the outstanding balance.