The SaaS CFO tech stack: A guide for growth
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The state of CFOs & SaaS tech stacks in 2021
Over the past decade, the role and responsibilities of the SaaS CFO have evolved significantly, moving away from transactional to becoming a more strategic finance leader and business partner.
As time passed, the technological environment continued to expand and systems became more advanced. Thus, strategic SaaS CFOs have been updating their finance tech stacks to keep up with the constant digital transformation and shifting demands of an increasingly complicated market, while also meeting the needs of their business.
To highlight the trend of SaaS CFOs investing in technology stacks and financial tools that will reduce time spent on manual tasks, IT spending is expected to increase by 6.2% in 2021. This shows the quick recovery after the devastating consequences the pandemic left and provides a brighter view of future growth.
In addition to this boom in spending, SaaS CFOs also have great expectations for the future of technology and have made it a top priority as 54% of them will increase their spending on Finance.
Their need for comprehensive solutions that addressed a wide range of requirements has shaped the landscape and today's specialized tools enable them to pick and choose the greatest fit for each necessity a business has.
A best-of-breed approach that customizes each solution to meet a specific requirement is an excellent method to optimize the finance tech stack and deliver greater value throughout the organization. For a SaaS CFO to effectively scale up their business, they must have expertise in the following areas:
- Relevant rules and regulations
- Business strategy and development
- Payroll implementation and troubleshooting
- Data visualization
- Human resource allocation and management
- Management over administrative, legal, and financial branches of the business
To help you along the way, we will provide a breakdown of what reliable technologies you can use to help your organization scale up and move through each stage of growth.
Choosing the correct financial planning tools and software can mean the difference between the success and failure of your business model.
Stage 1: Startup
At this stage, your company is still fighting to prove if it can be successful in the long term. So, to make things less complicated you probably only use Excel or Google Sheets to keep track of everything, and because you are going to spend a lot of time analyzing data here are some tips. However, if you want to improve the process and reduce time spent analyzing data, you need accounting software to at least forget the crazy mess of spreadsheets.
Unsurprisingly, a large number of accountants and financial advisors are still reliant on the old-fashioned spreadsheets of the past. Admittedly, these can still be useful, but with more advanced tools to streamline financial data and reconciliation, there is no reason not to stay up-to-date.
Accounting platforms allow you to manage your books from anywhere and reduce the amount of manual data entering you do. This software is designed for small-medium businesses, and for those SaaS CFOs who will later require greater capabilities.
Biggest benefits for SaaS CFOs
- No more manual data entry for accounting
- Highly intuitive design
Some examples of good accounting software are:
FreshBooks is cloud-based accounting software that is designed to simplify and automate all of your most crucial accounting procedures. You can simply create, change, and manage ledger entries, and you may export this data without having to put in a lot of time and effort.
FreshBooks, like the other programs on this list, is cloud-based, which means you will be able to access your files from any location as they are stored in cloud servers. FreshBooks reports are simple to create and comprehend, which is consistent with the rest of the FreshBooks experience.
Xero is one of the fastest growing and most well-known cloud accounting systems on the market. It is specifically designed to make accounting simple and accessible by eliminating as many superfluous stages as possible.
When compared to many of the other accounting tools available, Xero is straightforward and user-friendly. As a result, more skilled financial teams may find this to be a constraining factor. But, if you can handle your accounts seamlessly and straightforwardly, why not?
Stage 2: Survival
As your company begins to grow and show potential, you will need to add some kind of payroll and HR management software to your technology stack.
Payroll management & HR platforms
Payroll may be considered to be more of an HR function rather than a matter for CFOs, yet both responsibilities are closely related. Everything from salary to sick leave has an impact on the efficiency of a firm and the amount of money it makes. So, what are your best options for streamlining payroll while also staying on top of critical employee issues?
Key components all SaaS CFOs can benefit from
- Wide range of features including automatic enrollment and RTI
- Less cluttered than spreadsheets
- Saves a lot of time for payroll management
- Gives employees good visibility over their pay, leave, and more
Some of these solutions include:
ADP, or Automatic Data Processing, is one of the biggest providers of Human Resources (HR) software solutions and outsourced services in the world. It offers effective payroll and Human Capital Management (HCM) services to aid in the running of compensation, attendance, compliance, and more.
BrightPay is a fantastic cloud payroll solution that was developed exclusively for the United Kingdom market. Users can be certain that their payroll operations are HMRC-compliant, and the auto-enrollment option makes it simple for firms to set up employee pensions without the need for additional staff. The platform's ease of use is the platform's second most important selling element.
Gusto, like the other two services mentioned above, assists businesses in automating payroll. Among the tasks are everything from payslips and federal and state tax filings to time-consuming calculations and compliance with healthcare standards (including the ACA). Gusto works seamlessly with accounting software, ensuring that all of your most crucial (and time-consuming) operations are taken care of without you having to lift a finger. In a nutshell, it simplifies the complicated process of payroll administration.
Stage 3: Success
Now that you moved out of the survival stage and your company has proven to be financially sustainable, it can be good to change accounting software to an ERP system and financial planning software to help make decisions easily that are supported by data.
Enterprise Resource Planning systems (ERPs)
There are numerous ERPs that can manage a specific subset of capabilities required by finance leaders to allow them to reach a specific goal. Depending on your organization's structure and aim will heavily influence what ERP you should use.
Technical components all SaaS CFOs can benefit from
- Company-wide data easily available with financial records and dashboards
- Useful search functions
- BYO system for great adaptability
Two useful tools are:
NetSuite is one of the most well-known and widely used cloud Enterprise Resource Planning tools today. For many SaaS CFOs, this is the gold standard when it comes to financial reporting. NetSuite is an all-in-one solution that serves as an ERP, CRM, business process development tool, and eCommerce platform. One of the advantages of using a comprehensive platform such as this is the ability to have all of your vital data in one place at all times. Another essential element that can be quite beneficial to your business is if your CRM software and ERP systems can communicate with one another, something that is possible with NetSuite.
Unit4 is a very powerful ERP system with a slick interface. What distinguishes this platform from others is that it is mostly a do-it-yourself platform. You have a great deal of latitude in constructing the system in the manner of your choosing. This is excellent if you have the time to do so and are clear on what you want to achieve. Nevertheless, some startup CFOs may choose an easier and deeper tool that is ready to use right out of the box.
Financial planning & analysis
Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) solutions support finance teams' budgeting, planning, and forecasting efforts. It increases SaaS CFOs' ability to manage performance by linking corporate strategy and execution with modeling, collaboration analytics, and performance-reporting capabilities. The FP&A market is accelerating its shift to a more tech-driven landscape, so including these solutions in your finance tech stack will help your company grow at a faster rate.
Abacum is a collaborative financial planning and analysis (FP&A) software that helps you streamline your finances by automating manual tasks, sharing findings, and driving decision-making faster than ever before. It takes Strategic Finance to the next level through an automated performance analysis tool, so you can deliver answers and set up a plan accordingly.
Stage 4: Growth
While looking to expand your business, you will need to focus on financial planning, spending, and payments.
Payment processing tools
To run a successful firm, it is usually necessary to ensure your customers can pay for your SaaS products or services. There are excellent payment tools available to make this process as easy and straightforward as possible.
Biggest benefits for SaaS CFOs
- Multiple currencies supported
- VAT and other taxes automation
- Ready-to-use dunning process for unpaid invoices
They include solutions such as:
If your customers want to pay with a credit card online, Stripe is almost the de facto industry standard. It allows you to issue invoices and collect credit payments through your app or website, without having to invest a lot of time and money in the technological development process. Since every consumer can pay in the same manner, Stripe greatly streamlines the money collection process.
GoCardless assists clients in making payments quickly and conveniently. However, rather than accepting credit card payments, it operates on a direct debit basis. Customers can authorize your firm to collect direct payments from them on an ongoing basis with just a few clicks. One-time invoices are also supported, and your customers will have an easier time setting them up with the help of the service.
Spend management solutions
It is important to choose the best financial planning software within the SaaS tech stack to help CFOs keep track of corporate expenditures.
Key components all SaaS CFOs can benefit from
- Company spend tracked in real-time
- Single-use or recurring virtual cards
- Creation and storage of digital receipts
Most businesses find it difficult to keep track of their spending. A spend management solution like Spendesk eliminates all of this by providing you with intelligent, trackable spend management. Your employees have access to their cards with adjustable limitations, which eliminates the need for them to pay with their own money altogether. Meanwhile, as a SaaS CFO, you will have complete visibility into the spending of the company, thanks to thorough records of every purchase.
By implementing these financial planning tools to your financial tech stack, your scale-up will improve not only results but also the finance team's performance. However, keep in mind that this software will require extensive research to adapt to your own organization's needs and budget.
Be a true strategic partner in your organization
Now that you know what popular technology exists out there for your finance team, it's time to begin making that investment.
With Abacum, we empower finance teams of high-growth tech companies to become true strategic partners in their organization by driving time-to-insight with powerful automation and seamless collaboration.
Request a demo now to see the actual product live and start your transformational journey.