The CFO technology stack has been long neglected. Finance professionals are trusted with making sure the backoffice runs smoothly, only to witness a plethora of new solutions being built for their colleagues in Sales, Marketing, R&D and HR. As a result, the CFO stack remained one of the last digital transformation frontiers for organizations, although this seems to be changing more recently with an emerging wave of new tools that are (finally!) looking to help finance teams to do their jobs better.
In this blog post we share our two cents on building for the CFO and finance teams. These are our insights after speaking with dozens of finance professionals of varying senioritis (from analysts to CFOs), domain experts, investors, and other FinTech companies.
- Build Wide(r) - in one sentence: the CFO office should have 10 solutions, not 50 solutions. Many attempts to solve problems for finance teams often just push the problem to a different place. For example, point solutions that are too narrow can create another reconciliation problem. Building wider can really help unlocks value for users; just look at corporate spend startups that couple expense management and corporate cards to create control over spend, end to end. We believe that solution providers should think wide, or wider. Some processes, like AR, shouldn’t be split up.
- No-Code First - in one sentence: a CFO solution should be built for finance teams, not for developers. For invoicing, there are two competing approaches to building - systems vs APIs. Our approach is simple - finance professionals are not developers. In fact, we want to free finance teams from IT dependency where possible, and provide APIs only when needed. Companies don’t build their own CRM for good reasons, and they shouldn’t build their Accounts Receivables, either.
- It’s in the Process - in one sentence: more than other departments, the CFO office is proccess first. Finance teams are the backbone that keeps the company running smoothly, and that involves a lot of processes. Finance teams’ daily routine is certainly more process oriented than their colleagues. CFO systems should make it easier for them to run those processes as individuals and teams. This requires a deep understanding of the processes, who leads which part, and which stakeholders take part.
- Full Automation is a Myth - in one sentence: you cannot, nor should you, automate everything. Automation is great when it replaces mundane and tedious tasks that require no expertise or thinking. Expert judgment is needed throughout the finance processes, and that cannot be replaced by a machine. For example, when reviewing a multi million dollar deal with a high-profile customer, the VP Finance would typically read the Sales Order before sending to make sure that the invoice details are correct. Not everything will be fully automated, nor should be.
- It’s really the Finance Team’s Stack - in one sentence: the CFO office systems are primarily used by the CFO’s team. When a company is growing and establishing its first finance team in-house, we’re seeing that pretty early one, the CFO will delegate the operational stuff to her second in command (VP/Director of Finance/Controller). The CFO will focus on strategic work: BOD meetings, fundraising, planning and analysis with the CEO, and working with other C levels. What is called the CFO Stack, in many companies is completely delegated to the team. Not only that, the finance process is a team work that requires close collaboration, and many systems are missing that element. CFO systems should be be built for the team that actually run the process, while giving them and the CFO visibility to what’s happening.
Finance teams deserve better systems which would make their jobs easier, free up their time to do more quality work, and delight them at every step. We’re lucky to work with our customers on shaping how tomorrow’s CFO office will look like. We think that we’re part of that change, and we’d love to talk with you to show you how!