C-Suite Best Practices

With the right methodology, cost productivity discipline not only helps fuel steady growth and big initiatives but also are rewarded by shareholders, leading to substantially higher TSR, in both good times and downturns, according to Bain long-term research.

By Bain & Company and Lauren Kelley | April 13, 2023

With the right methodology, cost productivity discipline not only helps fuel steady growth and big initiatives but also are rewarded by shareholders, leading to substantially higher TSR, in both good times and downturns, according to Bain long-term research.

By Bain & Company | January 24, 2023

Software companies spend more on R&D (research & development) & less on Sales & Marketing (S&M) as a per cent of revenue today than six years ago.

By Tomasz Tunguz | January 17, 2023

CFOs should think about automation as an “additional teammate” in their financial departments as they look to push digital transformation initiatives forward in the new year.

By CFO Dive | January 10, 2023

In an increasingly data-driven world, a surplus of conventional wisdom and “generally accepted benchmarks” constantly bombard SaaS company executives.  When performance benchmarks are used correctly, there is a tremendous value creation opportunity which starts and ends with precision cohorts.

By OPEX Engine | January 3, 2023

Improving visibility into company cash flow and gaining tighter control of data is essential for financial leaders as they brace for the possibility of a recession, according to a study.

By CFO Dive | November 15, 2022

Usually, the customer churn rate is every SaaS company’s worst enemy. But in this article, we’re going to show you how to not only deal with churn effectively but also how you can use your customer churn data as a valuable tool to build your business. Voluntary churn vs. involuntary churn: What’s the difference? Before looking […]

By Sage Intacct | November 8, 2022

It’s no secret that the current uncertain economic climate is taking a toll on our work and personal lives. During times of uncertainty, executive leadership teams make more conservative financial decisions in order to prepare for and/or prevent any major difficulties for the companies that they lead. These decisions and preventative actions have repercussions that […]

By Kevin Dallaire | October 4, 2022

Like the benchmarking of any key metric, you will drive operational efficiency and better use of your resources, when you see the variance between your company and your peers at the same stage and with a similar business model.  You can then also compare your current metrics against the benchmarks for companies that have already […]

By Lauren Kelley | February 23, 2022

When it comes to IPOs, 2021 was an excellent year for SaaS companies. Accelerated digital transformation across industries put SaaS companies firmly on the hypergrowth path. But this kind of hypergrowth doesn’t happen overnight. In this guest post, written by Mike Beach, insights are shared with CFO on how they can prepare their SaaS enterprise for hypergrowth.

By CFO Dive | February 1, 2022

Challenges wrought by the pandemic haven’t come with easy or obvious solutions—other than a measure of agility to adapt to new situations. For three CFOs who began their new roles amid the crisis, planning for volatility required an understanding of their core business, a focus on key priorities, and experience in tackling the unknown in previous roles. In this guest post from Workday Adaptive learn how they were adaptive and leaned into past experience to propel them forward.

By Workday Adaptive Planning | January 18, 2022

Many companies in the technology industry are moving toward “pay for what you use” consumption-based pricing models. The trend has been bolstered by several customer benefits — primarily, the model provides a clear linkage between what a customer pays and what they use or value they realize.
This guest article from CFODive, gives guidance to CFOs seeking to transition from one pricing model to a consumption-based pricing model.

By CFO Dive | January 11, 2022

It’s become almost routine for SaaS companies to reach $1 billion in valuation and stay private for years beyond that to build more value before going public — if they even decide to go that route. These high valuations give CFOs a lot to think about. Read on to learn how as strategic partners to the C-suite, CFOs can make recommendations about the best time to raise capital, whether privately or publicly.

By CFO Dive | November 2, 2021

To successfully steer their businesses forward, CFOs need real-time information and analytics capabilities to inform overall strategy and to identify, interpret and execute in response to new opportunities and trends. Modern, cloud-based financial systems are designed to deliver these capabilities. People enter data into the system once, ensuring all users have the same, up-to-date information. This guest post from Sage Intacct explains how CFOs can be the guiding force in a digital transformation.

By Sage Intacct | October 18, 2021

Venture debt is a specialized form of corporate credit that differs from traditional corporate lending in a number of important ways. While traditional credit is typically backed by assets or cash flow generated by a business, venture debt is used by fast-growing companies that are consuming — rather than producing — cash to support their […]

By Espresso Capital | March 30, 2021

Throughout the world, businesses of every size are feeling firsthand the impacts of instability. In a time of uncertainty, surviving and thriving comes down to how promptly your business can identify disruptive changes and proactively respond to them. That’s not so easy when your business is mired in static planning—characterized by long planning cycles, immediately […]

By Workday Adaptive Planning | March 17, 2021

For many of us in tech, we’re going 9+ months strong working from home. We miss seeing colleagues in person, there may be distractions galore in a home office, and there’s no clear end in sight. How can leaders keep employees engaged and effective during these challenging times? To find out, we hosted a discussion […]

By Underscore VC | February 16, 2021

What a difference a few months makes!  Back in January, 2020 looked so different. By early 2020, investment in the SaaS industry was at record highs and expected to hit even higher peaks.  In early Feb., TechCrunch wrote that VCs were putting an extra $1B into SaaS in 2020, in fewer deals, so more money […]

By Lauren Kelley | June 25, 2020

Over the years I’ve noticed how different CEOs take different degrees of ownership and accountability when it comes to the board of directors.  For example, once, after a long debate where the board unanimously approved a budget contingent on reducing proposed R&D spending from $12M to $10M, I overhead the founder/CEO telling the head of […]

By Dave Kellogg | June 16, 2020

It’s overdue. Predicting the onset of a recession is difficult, but a downturn likely will arrive soon, with the current economic expansion now more than 10 years old, long by historical standards. Signs of over leverage in the corporate sector, combined with geopolitical uncertainty—including the China–US trade war, Brexit and economic instability in some European […]

By OPEX Engine and Bain & Company | May 19, 2020

As reported in the Boston Globe, MassTLC has been actively working throughout the COVID-19 situation to provide the timeliest information and insights to help our member CEOs make critical business decisions as they navigate the COVID-19 crisis. Through convening of tech CEOs, policy leader forums, member community programs, and research we are bringing relevant and actionable insights to our members. MassTLC […]

By MassTLC | May 5, 2020

I am surprised by how many startup CEOs leave the board hanging at the end of the quarter.  As a CEO my rule of thumb was that if a board member ever asked me about the quarter then I’d failed in being sufficiently proactive in communications.  In tight quarters I’d send a revised forecast about a week before […]

By Dave Kellogg | March 3, 2020

A Couple SaaS Generations Ago… Traditional software companies managed sales, product development, finance and HR in siloed organizations by function. Cross functional management was attempted but often not effective. In the early SaaS days, management structure was essentially the same.  Separate Sales, Marketing, R&D, Accounting/Finance organizations were headed by a senior executive. The siloed management […]

By Lauren Kelley | February 13, 2020

During the annual budget and planning process, SaaS Finance leaders focus on making sure that resources are allocated appropriately across the company so the company achieves its performance goals – usually revenue and profitability goals – for the upcoming year.   Resource allocations should be fine-tuned by looking at how the Return on Investment (ROI) can […]

By Lauren Kelley | November 21, 2019

Can financial reporting analysis really help your business grow? Absolutely! To employ a data-driven finance approach, CFOs need to move finance functions up the analytic value chain to offer more detailed analyses, better forecasting, and increasingly granular information on products, suppliers, customers, and more. In turn, their analyses inform the business, increase corporate agility, and point the […]

By Sage Intacct | November 5, 2019

As a finance leader, you’re intimately familiar with your company’s data and KPIs. But guess what? Most of your board members aren’t—and they don’t want or need that level of detail. What do they want? Like your CEO, board members are searching for trusted, strategic deputies who can provide high-level, holistic insight that helps them […]

By Workday Adaptive Planning | October 1, 2019

When it comes to FP&A forecasting, most companies base their long-range forecasts on static planning processes, rather than more relevant, dynamic plans that reflect the complexities of the business. Relying on a forecast that doesn’t enable continuous monitoring of company performance, instead of implementing a modern, rolling forecast approach, is like using an old-school road map to guide you […]

By Workday Adaptive Planning | September 17, 2019

In our engagements at FLG Partners, we often encounter situations in which companies default to systems to try to improve their business processes. Unfortunately, this approach can give a management team a false sense of security and almost always results in performance below expectations. At FLG, we typically find that process gaps are underestimated by […]

By Eric Mersch | August 13, 2019

We had a great discussion with Andrew Setness, VP Finance at DialSource this week on evolving the Finance organization as a SaaS company grows.  We talked about the processes, metrics and systems that change as a company goes from a Series A, to B, to C and beyond. Andrew, based in Sacramento, CA, highlighted that […]

By Lauren Kelley | May 10, 2019

Many finance teams consider board reports the most challenging type of report that they put together. And, in many ways, it’s because board members want so much more than numbers, such as nonfinancial information and customized analysis. Standard slide templates and data charts may satisfy most board members. But to really dazzle them—and establish the […]

By Workday Adaptive Planning | April 23, 2019

There is no shortage of great advice on how to create a great fundraising deck. Our very own Michael Wolfe (not to be confused with the Fire and FuryMichael Wolff, by the way, nor with the fantastic comedian Michelle Wolf) wrote an excellent article about what should be in your fundraising slides some time ago. Mark Suster put together this great […]

By Christoph Janz | February 18, 2019

For any growing business, capturing and analyzing financial data is critical for scaling and making informed decisions. With the right performance metrics and insights at your disposal, you won’t be blindsided by changes in the business. You can proactively address issues quickly and drive growth confidently. And when you’re ready to seek capital, you can […]

By SaaSOptics | January 29, 2019

While most companies put real thought into how they present numbers in their post-quarter board decks and other management reports, one area in which you’ll find a lack of discipline is in how they present quarterly sales forecasts to the board. They’re typically done as a quick update email to the board.  They’ll usually mention […]

By Dave Kellogg | January 15, 2019

Too many SaaS companies don’t have a strategic systems roadmap to support their growth.  As a result, they end up making endless tactical fixes and integrations to solve immediate problems but continue to struggle producing key reports and data analysis. In a recent OPEXEngine webinar, SaaS CFO Eric Mersch (Percolate and FLG Partners) and OpFocus […]

By Lauren Kelley | January 7, 2019

Preparing for an audit isn’t usually on anyone’s list of favorite things but it’s a necessary evil. For software-as-a-service (SaaS) businesses, audit preparation can be particularly stressful because the business model presents its own set of unique challenges related to financial operations that play a critical role in any audit. With the right preparation, however, […]

By SaaSOptics | January 2, 2019

It’s the end of the year, and it’s time for us to make some predictions going into 2019. Here are the top five things we think the SaaS Boards are thinking about going into 2019. Top Five Things SaaS Boards are Thinking About Going Into 2019 1) Large tech cos are consolidating and driving M&A […]

By Lauren Kelley | December 21, 2018

The growing popularity of SaaS applications among end users, enterprise software buyers and investors creates tremendous pressure on traditional software providers to offer subscription versions of their applications. The business case for moving to SaaS is so strong that this business model is projected to dominate all software sales in the near term. According to […]

By Eric Mersch | December 18, 2018

Best in class SaaS CFOs measure the percent of R&D spend associated with tech debt, just like they track financial debt.  Tech debt simply defined is the accumulated cost of development short cuts and outdated technology.  It is the interest a company pays for trade-offs made between quality and time to market – short cuts […]

By Lauren Kelley | December 7, 2018

Savvy SaaS CFOs know that the best way to prepare for board approval of the next year’s budget and plan is to set the stage before the meeting.   This is the time of year when most SaaS companies are compiling and finalizing budget numbers. The hard work of getting Executive team agreement on the final resource […]

By Lauren Kelley | November 30, 2018

A really smart and experienced investor said to me the other day that with these 3 things, he could absolutely increase any SaaS company value (and would invest in doing so): The right operational data about the company and good, comparable benchmarks, Intelligent interpretation of the data, especially around go-to-market Improved business processes focused on […]

By Lauren Kelley | November 16, 2018

Scaling a startup from zero to $100M is 10% strategy and 90% execution. You’d never know that from reading the Web, because the advice you’ll find online is 90% related to strategy and 10% related to execution. This is the second post in a series that explores the challenges of scaling a startup through rapid […]

By Joel York | November 13, 2018

Earlier this week, we published a blog by Tomasz Tunguz, How the Economics of Professional Services Have Changed in Software. He demonstrates that professional services strategies and gross margins vary widely across public SaaS companies and have done for some time in the SaaS world. Despite large variances in professional services metrics, public SaaS companies […]

By Lauren Kelley | November 1, 2018

The OER (Operating Expense Ratio – ratio of operating expense to revenue) is a traditionally viewed as a measurement of efficiency. It can be translated to mean the dollars required to produce one dollar of revenue.  Typically, that dollar of operating expense was 90 percent payroll components. For early stage companies, the OER may be 3X.  […]

By Lauren Kelley | October 25, 2018

From time-to-time, you may need to find consultants to help you with your business.  Sometimes, those needs are high level, like setting strategies or marketing plans.  And, other times, those needs are more point solutions, like a pro in search engine optimization or product sourcing.  Whatever your need may be, there is most likely a […]

By OPEX Engine | October 23, 2018

Good SaaS CFOs manage increasingly complex organizations and responsibilities.  The Finance organization has grown to be one of the strategic assets of a SaaS company, managing the  numbers, planning for growth, contributing to strategic changes in Sales, Marketing and even R&D, not to mention closing the books every month, quarter and year. SaaS Finance:  One […]

By Lauren Kelley | September 5, 2018

Over the last several years, many technologies have been developed to help accelerate and automate the sales and marketing functions. First, it was upper funnel tools that help drive customer awareness and consideration through marketing automation. Then came the middle and lower funnel tools that help drive customer evaluation and purchase through sales enablement tools, which I will […]

By OPEX Engine | August 21, 2018

You’ve just raised a round of financing. Your next step is to build your management team. There are several criteria hire an executive. Competency in the field, cultural fit, communication skills, management experience. All of those should be obvious. There is one that is often overlooked. Network. Recruiting is one of the most important responsibilities […]

By Tomasz Tunguz | August 16, 2018

I met a seasoned executive recently. He made a bold claim. “Management is an art, and one that is overwhelmingly undervalued in Silicon Valley.” I wondered, are we investing enough in our managers? Talent is the largest investment of an early stage company. 80%+ of startup operating expense flows to compensation. Retaining these employees is […]

By Tomasz Tunguz | August 2, 2018

We frequently have customer conversations where we discuss how things are moving around a SaaS income statement;  hosting costs into COGS, headcount from R&D to other departments, things like that.  Meanwhile, in another part of The Cloud, there are some large, important blocks of capital moving between  a companies balance sheet. The form of the capital is data […]

By Lauren Kelley | November 23, 2015

The social media world and business advisory firms, consultants and other pundits keep alerting businesses that the objective of return on investment (ROI) is diminishing in importance, or even dead, due to the increasing focus on return on user experience (ROE or ROX). We asked three experts to share their advice on ROI versus ROE as […]

By Lauren Kelley | May 5, 2015

I recently attended the 12th Annual MIT Sloan CFO Summit, which, as always, was great.  The title, the Future Forward CFO, articulated the theme that CFOs have moved from reporting the past to helping shape their company’s future.  A CFO’s position has grown beyond reporting accurate financial statements and historical analysis to proactive strategic planning, […]

By Lauren Kelley | November 25, 2014

Borrowing from the basics of Six Sigma, keep the following in mind as you define and manage your SAAS performance management and benchmarking: 1. Define the metrics All metrics should be clearly defined so that an organization can benchmark its success. One way to keep metrics understandable is to use the SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, […]

By Lauren Kelley | October 27, 2014

Last week’s “Deciphering Finance” conference in Irvine, California, organized by the SIIA was a great forum for sharing best practices among Finance leaders and peer networking.   I thought one of the many useful sessions was the discussion between an experienced CEO and his CFO which captured some of the key issues in that relationship.  Here’s […]

By Lauren Kelley | May 6, 2014

get ex back Most companies are now preparing their 2012 budgets and going through the approval process. To say the least, few people enjoy the budget process. It is often long and drawn out to the point where many managers involved in the process are just relieved that it is over, regardless of whether they […]

By Lauren Kelley | December 13, 2011