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.

  • It’s essential to focus on scalability and ensure you are focusing on solving today and tomorrows problems. The balance between the desire to get something versus preventing problems down the road can be challenging.

  • Olo processes up to 500,000 transactions per day, creating an abundance of data to analyze. For example, the ordering trends show that customers tend to choose healthier options towards the beginning of the week and unhealthy options such as pizza and burgers towards the end of the week.

  • Olo created a new pricing strategy to maintain the monthly location fee – the baseline to cover operating costs. They overlaid a transaction fee that increased revenue by 20% per unit. Customers are pleased because the mix between flat and variable costs means their costs only rise as business increases.

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.

  • One of the more difficult aspects of Vestwell’s business is estimating participation and contributions. It is difficult to gauge contribution rates and how many assets will be in plan at year end. Sheens says the key is to get the sales team to enter accurate forecasts and estimates. This provides a clear picture of the revenue.

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.
Contact us at e2b to learn more about Sage Intacct. There’s a Reason Sage Intacct is the AICPA’s Preferred Provider of Financial Applications.

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