About two weeks ago, we invited our customers to a private roundtable, virtual discussion on Scaling Finance. This is something that we do every quarter in what we call the SaaS Finance MeetUP. It is only for customers benchmarking with us, closed usually to anyone outside our customers’ Finance executives, and governed by Chatham House Rules. It is a great way for our Finance customers to share best practices, ask questions, and get to know peers.
We made an exception to our rule and invited an outside expert on Scaling Finance, Anup Juneja, an Expert Senior Manager at Bain & Company, for part of the meeting. Anup works on G&A and FP&A transformation with numerous clients. He shared his perspective on the four things that world-class Finance organizations have to get right (see below).
4 Ways to Achieve a World-class Finance Organization – Bain & Company
His presentation took the traditional focus on People, Process and Systems to a far more strategic level when thinking about how SaaS and software CFOs need to frame their organizational planning for scale.
Here are a few of my take-aways from the overall discussion:
- Ambition should be an explicit qualification for a Finance leader. Ambition for continuous learning and improvement, ambition to better support Finance’s business partners in other parts of the company, and ambition to affect change/improve the company’s results.
- Be bold (relates to ambition). Be carefully bold about affecting change and helping to guide the company in an evolving world and marketplace.
- Be strategic about your metrics. Kick the tires regularly on what metrics and reports you are putting together; the bigger the company, the greater the chance that some of the reports and/or metrics are outdated that you are spending time and expense on. Remember that as you shift or evolve your business model, also, that some of your reporting may be outdated, even for smaller companies.
- Digitally enabled lean processes. We could talk about this all day, but one of the key points here to focus on is managing costs on the process side, where appropriate, by using outsourced, cloud-based finance process vendors, so that your expensive Finance personnel can provide value-add but aren’t tied up doing the low-value process work. Give them the infrastructure to focus on helping manage the business in a fast-paced world.
- Managing your service portfolio and delivery expectations. Make sure that your priorities are aligned with the priorities of your business partners. Set expectations on what you can deliver, given priorities. Again, focus on leveraging lean and efficient Finance delivery services so your Finance executives can spend their time building relationships and understanding the needs of their business partners.
In the meeting, we also looked at the benchmarks for G&A spend for public and private companies, as well as at how Finance headcount grows as a SaaS company grows. Our benchmarks show that Finance teams tend to be larger for SaaS companies, and even larger for fast-growth companies, than they are for traditional tech companies. These are critical benchmarks as CFOs are thinking about how to scale Finance.
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