There’s an emerging trend in businesses today, particularly SaaS (Software as a Service) companies, where the Finance and Technology functions are working more closely together to achieve collective goals. I’ve experienced this in my role at Motus – the responsibilities of our Finance and Technology teams are overlapping and we’re depending on each other to execute key business initiatives. Due to this growing interdependency, the role of the CFO and CTO have become more interconnected.
I sat down with Motus Chief Technology Officer Rick Blaisdell to discuss this trend and get his perspective on how we collaborate as business leaders. Here are the key takeaways:
Q: What are the areas of collaboration between Finance and Technology?
Tim: From my perspective as CFO, at the most basic level, we’re working together on budgeting and headcount. Beyond that, we’re constantly collaborating by building the business cases for more strategic initiatives. We’re both involved in reporting on performance relative to budget and making decisions for the business from those insights. We also collaborate to think strategically about how to automate data flows and manual processes or tasks across the business. For example, for the Finance team, the Technology team helps us to automate intensive processes like invoice support or banking reconciliation. Beyond automation and streamlining processes, we’re working together to understand the data sources utilized by each department and how they interrelate. This helps us more accurately forecast as well as provide business intelligence and insights to better inform our decision-making as business leaders.
Rick: As CTO, most of the time Tim and I spend working together is focused around analyzing tasks and identifying efficiencies to ultimately find cost savings for the business. For example, Tim and I work together to identify and implement new SaaS initiatives or evaluate a new SaaS tool to decide whether it’s a worthwhile investment for the company. For example, if the Sales team sees value is using a new SaaS tool, we will evaluate the tool to determine how it impacts the efficiency of that team, as well as compliance, security, competitive advantage, and of course Return on Investment (ROI). From a general sense, we collaborate to find and create efficiencies across the entire company.
Q: How do our teams interact to achieve the same goals?
Tim: We’re partnering with Rick’s team to find opportunities to move from CAPEX to OPEX expenses for the business. One way we do this is to outsource resources needed for the business to operate and scale efficiently. For example, rather than purchasing physical email servers, we worked together to find efficiencies in the Office 365 subscription model of purchasing licenses based on headcount. As part of this effort, we also collaborated to evaluate the level of security and redundancy this type of solution offered the company in addition to its cost efficiency.
Rick: Tim and I evaluate new solutions or initiatives for security and compliance concerns, working together to determine ROI and cost savings before the company moves forward with a new solution. The methodology we use is to outsource resources when appropriate to find cost savings. We work together to identify our non-core-competency tasks and then pair them with an outsourced resource. This helps our collective team be more efficient by focusing their efforts on our core competency tasks. An example of this was our decision to move to a managed service provider for our IT support.
Q: Where is the overlap between what we both do every day?
Tim: I think both Rick and I have a customer-centric view of the business. We’re working together to leverage technology and automation to push more information to customers. We’re also both responsible for understanding where data sets live and what the data flows are across the company. For example, data from one SaaS cloud is being aggregated into another SaaS platform like the information in Hubspot flowing into Salesforce. We need to both understand the infrastructure to more accurately report and make informed decisions for the business.
Rick: From my perspective, maintaining security and compliance as an organization is a key effort that we’re both focused on. Regarding data privacy, for example, we both need to be involved in those discussions and work together to making necessary adjustments to be compliant. In my opinion, everything we’re doing falls within data privacy, compliance and security regulations. For Tim’s team, they handle the legal review and counsel, while my team handles the tactical parts of maintaining the security requirements for different laws and regulations. In terms of our day-to-day overlap, Tim and I continue to analyze all our ongoing SaaS and IaaS initiatives to identify efficiencies and cost savings opportunities.
Based on our conversation, it’s clear Rick and I agree that our responsibilities overlap and the initiatives we manage are interconnected. We’re working together to achieve the same goals – maintaining security and compliance, identifying efficiencies across the company, and ultimately finding cost saving opportunities for the business. The same is true for many finance leaders today. In collaborating with your CTO, you’re more likely to discover efficiencies and savings for your business and deliver value as leaders.
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The CFO Corner is a recurring series on the Motus blog featuring advice from Motus Chief Financial Officer Tim Brown who has spent his career working with technology and growth companies as an executive and investor. The topics covered range from management best practices, insights on industry trends, and advice for the modern finance leader.