How a SaaS Chief Financial Officer Is Changing the Game
The term “chief financial officer” conjures up images of a gray-haired man in a suit, sitting behind a large mahogany desk and talking on the phone with his investment banker. But times have changed. If you’re one of the many SaaS companies whose CFO is now more agile thanks to cloud-first application integration strategies, then this article’s for you!
The New SaaS CFO
The SaaS CFO is a new breed of CFO who’s more agile and effective, thanks to the cloud-first approach to tools and processes that’s available to his or her disposal.
As technology enables greater agility across the board, new processes will eventually emerge from the current ones. At the same time, as the SaaS market continues to grow, we’re seeing new roles emerge that are unlike any other in traditional industries.
As a result, it’s important for CFOs in SaaS companies to be aware of their own personal strengths and weaknesses to ensure they’re making the most out of their role.
The ability to think quickly on your feet is one of the most important skills a CFO can have. You need to be able to see emerging issues as soon as they arise and find solutions before it becomes an issue for your SaaS company or clients.
Companies are becoming increasingly dependent on financial technology (fintech) solutions to help manage their business. This means that CFOs in SaaS companies have no choice but to keep up with the latest trends in fintech.
Not only does this ensure they’re not left behind when it comes to their own job, but also helps them better understand how these technologies can be leveraged by their clients.
A CFO should also be able to understand the inner workings of their clients’ businesses, which means they need to have strong business acumen. This is especially important in SaaS companies where the CFO needs to be able to understand how financial tools can help clients achieve their goals.
Roles and Responsibilities of a SaaS CFO
The SaaS CFO is different from the more traditional CFO in that it’s more agile, cloud-first and effective.
If you’re a startup company and don’t have an account manager who can support your every need-or if you’re an established SaaS business looking to take your financial operations up another level-a good fit for you might be working with an SaaS CFO.
Because of their experience with this emerging field, these professionals are able to provide companies with financial solutions that are tailored specifically for their needs and workloads.
SaaS CFOs are adept at using technology to make financial management more efficient. They are able to use cloud-based applications-such as Xero, QuickBooks Online and Google Apps-to manage your finances in an innovative way that makes their services more cost-effective than traditional accounting methods. These professionals will also help you develop a financial strategy that meets your business needs and goals.
If you are a small business owner, it’s important to consider how SaaS CFOs can help your company. Here are some of the ways that these professionals can serve as a valuable asset for your business:
- They can help you manage your accounting and finance operations more efficiently – They can provide a single point of contact for all financial questions – They can offer support with strategic planning
- They can provide business management advice and training – They can provide a range of other CFO services, such as bookkeeping, payroll and financial analysis
- They can help you create a financial plan that supports your business goals
- They can help you implement your financial strategy by providing insights and advice about your business operations.
- They can help you manage your finances in an innovative way that makes their services more cost-effective than traditional accounting methods.
The New SaaS CFO vs The Traditional CFO
The SaaS CFO is a new breed of financial leader. As the cloud-first approach to tools and processes becomes more commonplace, the SaaS CFO will become even more agile and effective compared to traditional CFOs.
- Traditional finance leaders are still saddled with legacy systems that were not built for today’s technology-driven business world. The old guard has been slow to adopt new technology, which makes them less agile than their younger counterparts in sales and marketing who have adopted it in droves-and they pay dearly for it.
- The old way of doing things often requires companies to use multiple systems that don’t talk with each other or require manual entry into one system if you want another system (like ERP) updated at any given time, making it difficult for everyone involved on an ongoing basis-from portfolio managers down through controllers and accountants-to make timely decisions based on accurate data points that come from multiple sources across various departments of an organization. As a result, many companies are left with inaccurate data and incomplete information. This can lead to poor decision making and greater costs for both the company and its customers.
What Makes a SaaS CFO Different Than a Traditional CFO?
A lot. Here are just a few things that set SaaS CFOs apart:
- Agility. Traditional financial departments are often siloed, each department working on its own to complete tasks independently of others. On the other hand, SaaS CFOs have to be able to communicate across all teams within the company in order to deliver results at scale and speed. They also have less structure around them-like legacy systems and processes-that slows down their work, which translates into more effective time spent on each project than traditional finance departments.
- Adaptability. Because they’re constantly facing new challenges in every area of their work (from budgeting for improvements like new hires or equipment upgrades), SaaS CFOs need an open mind about change so that they can adapt accordingly when necessary without feeling overwhelmed by it all at once (or worse yet: become complacent). A little bit goes a long way here!
- Flexibility. SaaS CFOs need to be flexible in their thinking because they’re often faced with situations that are constantly changing (for example, as a startup grows and evolves so do its financial needs). They have to be able to adapt quickly as new challenges come up-and they need a team around them that can do the same thing.
- A sense of humor. SaaS CFOs spend a lot of time dealing with sensitive issues like revenue growth projections, deal negotiations and employee compensation-and it’s important for them to have a sense of humor about all of this because it helps them stay grounded when things get stressful.
So there you have it: the top four attributes of a great SaaS CFO.
Cloud-Based Tools Can Support More Agile Finance Leaders
A cloud-first approach to tools and processes will help you stay focused on what matters most-executing on strategy and supporting your organization’s growth.
Cloud software can help your finance team keep up with the pace of change, so that you don’t end up spending valuable time re-creating data from scratch or manually obtaining it from dozens of different vendors.
Cloud applications also allow organizations to take advantage of new ways to integrate their conflicting systems, reducing the need for manual processes in areas where automation is not yet possible (like forecasting).
By leveraging SaaS, organizations can also improve their ability to access real-time data across departments when making critical decisions faster than ever before!
Cloud-first finance software can help you stay focused on what matters most-executing on strategy and supporting your organization’s growth.
To keep up with growth and competition, many tech companies are moving beyond legacy ERP systems and using multiple cloud-based applications to support their operations.
As cloud-based applications become more mainstream, the cloud-first approach to tools is becoming more prevalent across all industries. Many CFOs are also realizing that they can’t just rely on a single ERP system or even one vendor’s offerings as their company grows and expands.
Instead, they’re using multiple cloud-based applications to support their operations. This strategy allows them to make quicker decisions while increasing agility, which is crucial in an industry where innovation needs to be fast and seamless for customers.
To achieve this level of integration across multiple platforms, many SaaS CFOs have implemented strategic integration strategies that focus on three main areas: data management; financial management; and tax compliance and financial reporting requirements. These three areas are critical to a company’s success, especially in the technology industry, where rapid change is the norm. Without these systems in place, companies can’t manage their finances effectively and may even miss out on key opportunities for growth.
Unfortunately, many companies are still relying on antiquated integration strategies like custom integrations (ETL) or homegrown processes. These approaches are expensive, time consuming and difficult to maintain as the company grows.
Rather than using these dated methods, SaaS CFOs should adopt cloud-first integration strategies based on a combination of open source software and managed services. This approach allows you to deliver enterprise-grade solutions that have been thoroughly tested by your executive team before they go live in production. It also allows you to scale out your platform without worrying about maintaining a growing number of custom integrations-something that would be impossible with traditional ETL solutions from vendors like Informatica or Oracle.
Achieving Agility Through Cloud-First Application Integration Strategies
A cloud-first approach to tools and processes means that you should be using the cloud when it makes sense, but also looking for ways to bring your systems in house whenever possible.
It’s a smart strategy because it allows you to take advantage of the flexibility and scalability of the cloud while still having access to enterprise-grade on premises solutions when needed.
As far as application integration strategies go, we recommend taking a similar approach: look at what you have now, figure out how much those systems cost per month or year-and then compare those costs against what they would be if they were hosted in AWS or another cloud provider (with all associated fees). Then work backward from there by identifying gaps in functionality or nonessential features that could be removed from these applications without compromising their core value proposition.
By doing so, you can quickly determine which apps are truly essential for day-to-day business operations versus those that might only need occasional use cases (such as decision making tools or data visualization).
Is Your Finance Organization Truly Agile?
Here’s how you can tell.
- Does your finance organization respond quickly to changes in the market?
- Does it react to business decisions as they’re made, rather than in quarterly cycles?
- Are you able to easily shift resources and investments in response to unplanned events like a major acquisition or sudden loss of several key customers?
If you can’t answer “yes” to all of these questions, then perhaps it’s time for your finance organization (and its leaders) to get started on becoming more agile. Let’s take a look at what being agile means for finance teams and how they can begin this transformation today.
The Next Generation of SaaS CFOs
The next generation of finance pros will be much more agile than the last thanks to modern tools, processes and practices.
- Cloud-first approach to tools and processes. There’s a reason that leading SaaS companies do their finance with online services like QuickBooks Online or Xero–they’re infinitely more flexible than legacy systems that are stuck on old operating systems. With cloud accounting software, your team can seamlessly integrate data from other business units without having to worry about infrastructure costs or complexity in upgrading. Plus SaaS is always updated with new features so you don’t have old software holding you back from better functionality as it ages over time (and gets harder to maintain).
- Cloud first approach to integration: Your team should be able make use of advanced integrations between applications like Salesforce — which means no more spending hours copying and pasting data manually into spreadsheets for analysis; instead your team can focus on running reports directly from one system (for example Xero) into another (for example Salesforce). This saves time across departments while also reducing errors associated with manual copying/pasting between applications — which may sound small but they add up fast when multiplied by every member of your team!
It’s also important to note that cloud accounting software can be integrated with other business tools like CRM software (like Salesforce), project management systems (like Basecamp) and more. This means your team doesn’t have to spend as much time learning new software or setting up separate integrations — saving both time and money!
We’ve seen that the SaaS CFO position is a new breed of financial leader. They’re more agile and effective, thanks to their cloud-first approach to tools and processes. If you need more tips on structuring your SaaS team and growing your business, check out our blog often. We have plenty of best practices and advice to share with you.