How SaaS CFOs Automate Finance

Many CFOs from great growth companies that have relied on Sage Intacct cloud financials shared their experiences about transitioning from QuickBooks to streamline financial operations as well as addressing key decisions about forecasting, SaaS metrics, subscription billing, and revenue recognition.

New York’s Olo is a digital ordering and delivery enablement provide for many restaurant chains. Their complex business model supports 250 brands across 50,000 locations. Senior Vice President of Finance, Peter Olo, feels that leveraging data to identify trends and drive business decisions is the key.

Vestwell offers a simple 401(k) and 403(b) retirement plans on an unbundled platform for financial advisers and companies. Their business model features a subscription-based pricing for certain plans as well as usage-based pricing on the basis of participants.

Senior Vice President, Dave Sheen, feels that a good forecast integrates with the CRM platform, marketing tools, and cloud financials. Reporting and metrics from those tools helps build the forecast around the right drivers.

DashBid is a leader in programmatic advertising, CFO Brian Dowdall, stresses the importance of defining a set of metrics. This requires a broad agreement among stakeholders. “When your business requires you to develop a more unique metric, get input from those involved, test different variations, and negotiate a consensus so that all stakeholders agree on value,” he said.

They start with metrics that are established throughout the industry because broad consensus already exists. “It’s a lot harder to have disagreements on those,” Dowdall stated, “but you need a system to create, track, report, and forecast them. You can’t do this in Excel.”

Sometimes there are unique metrics that you or the board may want to track – metrics that take a lot of time to formulate and test. For example, DashBid monitors churn. Their business model only features recurring revenue, not contracted revenue of a typical SaaS company. Instead, they follow a few sub-inputs to the churn rates. This includes a three-month average of churn for different account segments. Impressions per month is another key metric. If this falls below a certain level, it indicates a greater risk of churn.

After analyzing several variations, the finance team works with key stakeholders to ensure they agree on the metric before moving forward.

These SaaS finance leaders have gone through that journey in scaling each of their businesses representing high ACV, high-volume, and land-and-expand subscription models. Across these organizations, the common success factors revolve around a careful combination of people, process, and technology that allow them to move away from QuickBooks or Excel. This allows them to create a quote-to-financial forecast process integrated with and forecast the unique SaaS metrics that guide their growth.

Content originally from Sage Intacct.
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