Automating & Optimizing Finance Operations at Scale

Learn from finance leaders on how they approach scaling their tech stack, business processes, and talent pools to enable growth. Specific topics will include:

  • How to scale without adding an army of FTEs or consultants.
  • What types of software to add to the finance tech stack and when to deploy them.
  • How to scale with accuracy in investor reporting, complex billing, and revenue accounting.
  • How to work with sales, revenue operations, product management to ensure success.

Speakers include:

  • Jeff Woglom, VP Finance, OpenFin
  • Johanna Burke, Controller, Color
  • Jeff Yellen, VP Finance, CompStack
  • Steve Keifer, VP Marketing, Ordway (moderator)

Read the transcript of the webinar archive

Troy Runsten, Ascent:

All right, welcome everybody. We'll let people trickle in over the next couple of minutes. But we're going to go ahead and jump in and get started. So welcome to our webinar, automating and optimizing finance operations at scale. So moderating this panel, we have Steve Keifer or was it [inaudible]? I'm so sorry, just but Steve VP of marketing at Ordway. So I'll hand it over to you, Steven.

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

Thanks Troy. And welcome everyone. I'm excited to be moderating this panel today. We've got some great panelists that are gonna give you different perspectives from the financial services, from the healthcare, from the commercial real estate spaces on this topic of automating and optimizing financial operations at scale. I'm going to introduce our panelists in just a few minutes, but before I do that, I wanted to just take a few minutes and give some context and background for why we chose this topic. And some of the things that we're going to be talking about today that also give a few minutes for some of our late joiners to to join the webinar before we jump into the dialogue. So I'm the head of marketing at a company called Ordway we're in the billing and revenue automation space. And the particular part of financial operations that we focus on is more on the revenue side.

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

So at every company you're selling products and services either through a sales team or perhaps online through electronic commerce you get orders and contracts in, you have to turn them into cash and accounting and reporting. So there's a cycle that everybody come, every company goes through when they get a contract with a new customer or an upsell or renewal with an existing account that you've got to take that sales order or contract and invoice the customer, collect the cash perform the appropriate accounting and reporting on it. And most people would say that this is probably the least sexy part of most businesses. I kind of compare it to electricity. It's something that I think a lot of people just take for granted and just assume it's going to work. But when it doesn't work it can get ugly.

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

You know, when you're sending bills that are inaccurate to your customers that creates a lot of friction and tension in a relationship, it kind of erodes trust. If you can't get payments and collections in on time, potentially cashflow issues if you can't get the the revenue recognition right on the accounting side, you potentially running into issues with your auditors. And of course, if you can't report on revenue and the associated metrics you're gonna run into problems with fundraising. So really there's this I like to think of it kind of as a flywheel, you know, every high-tech and grow high growth company, CEO has a flywheel that they talk about, but I think the CFO has a flywheel as well, where you've got sort of this revenue life cycle going on on the right where you're billing and collecting cash and reporting on it.

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

And this is arguably one of the most important functions in the business, right? Because if you think about the billing and collection side, that's really bringing in a lot of the cash flow that you're using to run your day-to-day operations. And then on the accounting and reporting side, that's being used to drive valuation or additional fundraising efforts, whether it's debt or equity. So it's important that you get it right. But it's it's complicated stuff for a variety of different reasons. So let's drill into some of those on the billing side your billing might be quite complex or quite easy. What really drives a lot of that as your contract structures and your pricing models. So we've seen quite a bit of innovation and experimentation coming out of industry over the past 10 years, about 10 years ago, everybody moved to these as a service and subscription models.

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

But we still have a lot of the traditional pricing models out there where you purchase goods and services for one-time fee or professional services on a time and materials basis subscriptions, and as a service have gotten a lot more complicated as well. There's been a lot of buzz around this concept of usage based pricing rather than flat fee subscriptions. It's getting a lot of attention and the industry I, and there's dynamic pricing. We're seeing more and more that the price varies based on the time of day or day of the week or supply and demand. So a lot of the customers that we see growing the quickest have embraced not just one, but two or three of these different pricing models. So, whereas five years ago, you used to see just the chart on the left, where you might have a subscription or as a service type of model, where you had three different packages at different price points, with different sets of entitlements associated with them.

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

Now you frequently see that there's lots of ad-ons as well, that might be priced differently. They might have a fixed recurring fee monthly, but a lot of them are variable fees based on consumption or based on a percentage of the dollar value of transactions you're moving through the platform. And so this can get quite complex. You know, it's, it's interesting because it, it takes the sales operations team probably no more than 10 or 15 minutes to add a new type of product or price model into the CRM system, but it can take months to figure out how to accurately bill for it. And you've not only got to get the calculations, correct. They've gotta be able to be easily read by human beings. So you need a nice clean invoice. That's got all the fees on it.

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

That's intelligible and easy to read which again, can be quite complicated if you've got a mix, a one-time and recurring fees, some of which are the same every month, some of which vary, some of which might be prorated if you upgraded a contract or renewed it early, or it started without alignment to the billing cycle. So potentially a lot of complexity in billing. And although a lot of people probably in the front office don't necessarily think about billing as the most important part of the customer experience. It definitely correlates very clearly to trust. And so getting a clear, crisp invoice, the customer can read, empowering them with be able to get their own answers if they want to see their account balance, or they want to download more detailed information about consumption for spend analysis is pretty critical. You want to give your customers a lot of different payment options the ability to automate paint, recurring payments, or to wait to be invoiced and pay by ACH or wire or credit card, or even check, and then keep in constant communication with them about the status of invoices and payments.

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

And so if you have a pretty diverse range of customers you end up with what's effectively all of these different cohorts that you're having to track from a receivable standpoint, you've got all mix of customers that have different billing, frequencies and timing, different payment terms, paying through different channels. And so tracking all this from an accounts receivable standpoint can get quite complicated. Then of course, you've got to recognize the revenue. So the ASC 606 standard, the way guides from the big four firms, a number of some 700 pages in length. And while it may not be the most interesting reading, it's a pretty critical stuff, particularly if you're a public company to get right. If you're a private company, arguably it's just as important just as important, perhaps more important or some of these non-gap metrics and KPIs that everybody's watching very closely these days.

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

So you've got to take the Salesforce and contracts and convert them into reports on new logo, bookings, expansions, contractions, average selling price you know, information about renewals, churn, net dollar retention, and ARR MRR, all that stuff. And this is, of course, if you're on the private side driving a lot of the valuation and fundraising activities that you're doing and the stakes have never really been higher. If you look at what's been going on in the venture side of the house, on, in PE side of the house this year the number of mega rounds since over a hundred million dollar funding transactions continues to grow the number of unicorns being crowned every quarter this year compared to last year is up significantly, you know, the race to move quickly to file the last one and go to IPO continues to move in a, in a break neck speed.

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

So lots of interesting stuff for us to talk about today on the webinar where we're not only going to talk about scaling the financial operations from a revenue standpoint, but we're also going to talk about some other things important to the finance organization like talents. It's never been more of a war for talent out there. The workforce is changing with all the remote protocols. We'll talk about elevating finance's role in the organization and make a bigger impact across across various different teams and a little bit about budgeting and forecasting planning and this sort of unpredictable, macro economic environment that we have. So without further ado, let me go ahead and introduce our panelists and I'm gonna ask them to each introduce themselves here in a second, but we have Jeff [inaudible], who's the vice person of finance from OpenFin Joe Burke. Who's the controller of color. And Jeff Yellen is the vice president of finance. Comstack. why don't we start with you, Joe, can you tell us a little bit about your role at color and how long you've been there? Scope of responsibility.

Johanna Burke, Controller, Color:

Yeah. Awesome. Thanks so much and nice to meet everyone virtually. So I'm Jo Burke. I so I've been like the past 10 years. I have been the serial start-up. I love building crazy fun times. But I joined Color just about seven months ago. And it's just been a wild ride. I think I was employee number or finance employee three on my team. So really kind of starting from scratch. And so my scope of my responsibilities in a con it constantly evolves, I think as most people in startups do, but currently I own, and my team owns everything from financial reporting, treasury, AR AP payroll tax equity. And then we do a lot of the investor reporting as well. And I think, you know, just working with high growth companies, you kind of, and still kind of startup minded where often, you know, the, the scope creep of my role often expands and working a lot on operations side, operational side of the house as well.

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

Great. And, and tell us a little bit about color, but you guys are in a really interesting space just given the move to tele-health and everything, home testing, all that stuff.

Johanna Burke, Controller, Color:

Awesome. Yeah. So color started off initially as a genetics testing company and we focused on genetic testing for cancers and health disease. And when COVID started, we quickly pivoted to COVID testing. We, you know, have our labs, we have our platform infrastructures. So we were very quick to pivot to COVID testing and, you know, we've, that is now constantly evolved. So we right now on the COVID side, we're we test, I don't know if any of you all have been on have used our COVID testing services, but we have testing sites all over the state of California and Massachusetts. We also work really closely with employers as well. So we now, you know, we, we, we focus on employee health and help working with different organizations to help support the health of their employee populations.

Johanna Burke, Controller, Color:

And that includes wellness screenings, COVID management and very various other you know, basic healthcare needs that, you know, a lot of, you know, a lot of people kind of forget, right. Especially now with COVID people haven't been to the doctor. So we're really kind of focusing on that catch-up care. We also have software. So our software is really important for testing right. And keeping our population safe. So we do have a software that connects different communities to our lab testing as well as immunization. And that is really just so we can ensure that, you know, companies and states have the metrics and data to ensure, you know, we're keeping track of our COVID numbers, making sure infected individuals aren't coming into the workplace. And then finally, we have a huge clinical research side of the house. And they do a lot of end to end research programs, and we have the platforms to support that. So currently, you know, we're, we're doing a lot of work under the NIH and different other large government programs to really like help with you know, focused and focused health research in genomics testing.

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

Well, fascinating stuff. And just out of curiosity, like if I wanted to go buy one of the kits, do I have to get it through my employer? Can I go on like Amazon or something and founded or

Johanna Burke, Controller, Color:

So great. So you can get our genetics tests and through Amazon and it's actually suit, I got mine done, and it was, it was super interesting, really insightful. Just learning about myself and, and some of my, how my

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

Genetics play into my health. You can get that on Amazon. You can get it on our website. Also get out through your provider on the COVID testing. You can get that directly from our website is color website as well. Good stuff. I get it. I gotta do that. Okay. Thanks, Joe. Let's go to Jeff Woglom, and by the way, you probably noticed we have two Jeff's here, so I'm gonna probably address them with their first and last name every time, just so we're clear, but Jeff, tell us a little bit about your role at OpenFin and how long you've been there, what your scope of responsibilities.

Jeff Woglom, VP Finance, OpenFin:

Sure. So I'm Steve, thanks for having me and for everyone for joining. So I'm Jeff Woglom, the VP finance at OpenFin. We run a team now that is three total people. I was the first finance hire. We run fairly lean operationally. So, you know, everything you can think of in the finance and accounting remit is ours from, you know, investor reporting, to budgeting, to forecasting, to, you know closing the books and monthly reporting to bill pay, you know, really anything you can think of. And then I've had the opportunity to do like many other startups, some operations things, whether it's you know, onboarding, hiring you know, vendor management, SOC 2 process. It's been great in the last over two and a half years, I've been there to wear many different hats and excited to be here today.

Jeff Woglom, VP Finance, OpenFin:

And talk a little bit about it. As far as what OpenFin is OpenFin serves as, as the OS for the financial services world. So what does that mean? Our software is used by leading banks and financial institutions to deploy their mission critical applications to their end users, whether that's internal or external. So, you know, we think of the, the large banks that are playing broker dealer platforms. A lot of those are deployed to their end users on OpenFin. So they use a web deployed application that is using the latest and web technology. It's an easier install process, easier to update the applications and provides a better end user experience. It also allows to share context between different applications. So we think about the mobile phone experience that we're all used to. You know, I click a restaurant while I'm in Yelp, it takes me to Google maps and I have the location in an ETA when I get there, I click another button and I'm getting an Uber quote which somehow has increased two to three times the price before the pandemic.

Jeff Woglom, VP Finance, OpenFin:

And you know, that sort of seamless sharing a context between applications is something we're all used to in our personal life. I've been a professional life. There's still a lot of copy paste between applications or manual development of bridges between talk to you, but OpenFin helps solve that problem. Our latest product OpenFin workspace is a suite of tools built on top of our core technology. That's more out of the box that really focuses like a web based operating system. So, you know, you have yourself, a launcher bar to search for, you know contacts, applications within applications notification center that has actionable notifications as, as you know, we all deal with a limited screen space. You know, if you can have a notification that, that gives you a price alert of, of a security you're tracking, you can actually execute from that, that notification center, and also includes a browser purpose-built for work and a content store that, you know, you can have your internal applications and external applications that you want. So you know, really exciting time for OpenFin as a business as we really in our growth mode.

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

Awesome. As a marketing guy, I love that operating system for financial services sounds like a killer business model good stuff. And Jeff Yellen tell us a little bit about your role at comp stack and scope and how long you've been there and all that good stuff.

Jeff Yellen, VP Finance, CompStak:

Great. Thanks Steve. And thank you for having me here. I would say my role is very similar to Jeff W or the other Jeff's role, except I have a comma in my title. I, we, I am a finance team of one which 400 person company is, I would say extremely lean but we were looking to build it out, which is very exciting from my standpoint, we do, or I should say I do everything from bookkeeping and accounting to working on fundraising and, and SasS metrics and board board reporting and things that you would expect from the finance role. I joined the company, our comstac about a year ago. I previously had been an operator and investor in, at an incumbent all in various FinTech and finance roles. And Comstack is a commercial real estate prop tech SaaS company for a large enterprises.

Jeff Yellen, VP Finance, CompStak:

So basically we collect buzzwords that we, we basically we, we aggregates to her. We collect and aggregate data from various partners in the commercial real estate field who are leasing and selling properties. We then cleanse, standardize and get that data into a format that looks a lot like a Zillow type map or a data feed. And we package it and sell it to various enterprise companies, you know, the, in the real estate space, investment management lending a whole host of uses for that dataset.

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

The fascinating times in the commercial real estate space just continues to boggle my mind, the creativity that some of these institutions have on re-purposing some of the space that retailers or others don't want. So fascinating stuff. Good. Well, let's let's jump into the questions now, and in case you didn't see it in the chat window, just before we start we will be taking some questions from the audience. If there are any applause here, a couple of times during the the session to take those, so feel free to type those into the Q and a window that you see in the bottom, middle right. Section of the zoom screen. Okay. Well, let's start off by talking a little bit about fundraising and working with investors and reporting and all that good stuff. So I, I talked a little bit about some of the astronomical levels of funding that we're seeing out of VC and PE firms over the past couple of years. And of course the finance teams are the one doing a lot of the hard work around those additional capital raises. So I'm curious to get your guys' perspective on that. Jeff Woglom, maybe you could start us off a little bit. How, how do you view finance's role in partnering with the business and the CEO around the fundraising process, and maybe how does that evolve kind of as you go through the different rounds of funding and grow?

Jeff Woglom, VP Finance, OpenFin:

Yeah, I think from a fundraising perspective, if we think about what industry a lot of us come from, I've an auditing background. You know, I think fundraising is sort of the most important, exciting part of our business and something from the finance function really have to dive into. Right? So I think whatever stage you're at fundraising is all about storytelling, right? And it's more weighted on the story itself and what the future can bring at the, you know, a and B are seed rounds, but as you get further to, to C and D and onward, it's more about, you know, the actual numbers of, Hey, like, you know, where are you and where are you going and how are you going to get there on the granular level? So, you know, I think from a finance perspective, it's really key to be a part of that story, to be telling, and to provide the numbers that help to determine what the story is, right.

Jeff Woglom, VP Finance, OpenFin:

So, you know, you can say, Hey, our story is this, and we're growing really strong here, but if the numbers tell a different story and you're not prepared for that, you know, when you get past that first initial discussion, you're going to have investors really question what's going on and sort of not buy into that story. So I think, you know, finance really needs to be a partner of the leadership team as a part of the leadership team to say, Hey, like, what is our story that we're doing? What is the story that we're telling? What are the numbers telling and how do we blend those two together? Right? So if you have a metric that isn't, you know, market leading or, or it seems to indicate a negative thing, what's the story behind that? Oftentimes it's very reasonable. Hey, you, maybe you made an investment in the sales and marketing team, and that's why your CAC is, is increased in the temporary period as your salespeople ramp up. So, you know, I think that really finance from a viewpoint has this ability to see everything and see all the numbers. It can help get ahead of that questioning that, you know, VCs and other investors will have, so that your story is air tight and you're ready for due diligence. And you're ready for questioning.

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

Yeah, it's amazing. Just this is my third high growth company in the past five years and the level of diligence, I feel like every year that these investors are doing gross, gross, you know, they want to see everyone's employment agreement, contracts, more and more data. But none of that really compares to, you know, filing an S one and preparing for an IPO. Joe, we were talking a little bit before we opened up the call about some of the things you were doing on the audit side, and you'd mentioned you always want to position the organization to be ready for the IPO. So when an F you get that call the finance team is ready to go. Can you, can you talk a little more about how you, how you do that and some of the ways that you prepare and you're ready.

Johanna Burke, Controller, Color:

Yeah. Awesome. Thanks, Steve. Yeah, I guess my view and my philosophy is, you know, setting up the finance and specifically the accounting or so that, you know, when the board, or what, you know, says it's time, or we want to explore going out as a public company, we're ready and there's just so much that needs to be done. Before, before you can even go out. The SEC requires there is a ton of SEC requirements. And a lot of companies even when the market is hot, IPO gets the, IPO's get delayed. Largely because, you know, the company just doesn't have the maturity, the financial rigor governance. So it's, you know, in working at high growth startups, I think it's always important to have the mindset of, okay, let's, let's try and get this company public company ready. And what does that mean?

Johanna Burke, Controller, Color:

There's so much but specifically on the finance side, I think fundamentally it's getting the right people in the right roles. Right. filling out your, your key hires and you know, especially, you know, with becoming a public company like that, SEC reporting that rigor. I remember I was working at, you know, one of my previous companies. We'd always we, we do mock earnings calls just because, you know, in like mock quarterly closes because reality is the timelines are so tight when you're public and you need to be very, very crisp in every, in your communications and very tight with your numbers. And so I think that's always been something, you know, I've worked on when working at other startups when, when we're looking for, for an IPO, the other big piece is you know, making sure you've got the right processes, right.

Johanna Burke, Controller, Color:

You've got to close the books in like 10 days in order to be a public, you know, in order to kind of meet the public company requirements, that means like really tight processes. And unfortunately, I hate to say it, but if the processes are broken up upstream, when it comes downstream to accounting and finance, like it is, it is real tough. So really making sure working tightly with your business partners, making sure, you know, your billing process. I, I love Steve. That's kind of one of my pain points right now, and I'm sure we'll get into it later is like billing is critical. Revenue is critical, costs are critical and, and, you know, to support that you need the right systems. Right. And so systems take a long time to implement huge change management, huge huge investment for the company.

Johanna Burke, Controller, Color:

Right. and so I think, you know, even if you're, you know, you're two, three years out, it's good to just start thinking about these, these things now, so that, you know, when, and if the time comes, you can, you know, you're not a blocker and you're like, yep, we're ready. We can go out. So, so yeah, I always encourage folks, you know, to just kind of keep that in the back of your mind. So that, you know, you're not a delay in blocker for a potential accident. The finance org is not a delay in the blocker for potential accident.

Jeff Woglom, VP Finance, OpenFin:

And I think the other thing is, you know, you use the two to three year time window. Well, what if you're a four to five out? Well, you know, I think the thing is how do you get ready for being two to three years out? So how do you think about if my customer base doubled, would we be able to operate with the same team in place and then start to think about, you know, what are your processes that you need to put in now? What are the systems that, you know, could take a bottleneck away now that would help you scale later? I think those types of decisions you can make, even on the earlier stage, then help you when you get, you know, two to three years out. So it's certainly not a one-time thing. It's really a mindset.

Johanna Burke, Controller, Color:

Yeah. That's such a great point, Jeff. And it's like, you know, constantly evolving if you're four to five years out, probably doesn't make sense to put all the public company investment in now, but the process is that you can set up at an early stage carry forward. Right. and, and the people you bring in carry forward to the future. So it's just going to make life that much easier building the right team and making sure you can scale the company through growth.

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

Good. great advice. So let's let's do a little more kind of on the here and now versus thinking forward about the IPO. Like, so all three of you guys are private. You're not having to file QS and Ks yet. But you are having to do, you know, quarterly reporting, perhaps monthly reporting. Let's talk a little bit about that. What are some of the key metrics that your investors and board are looking at, and what's kind of the cadence that you have around reporting this financial KPIs. Anybody want to volunteer to start us off from that?

Jeff Woglom, VP Finance, OpenFin:

Yeah. I I'm having to go here. I mean, for us you know, what we wanted to get in the habit was of, of being an adult organization, right. So first was accounting. We're going to close the books on a monthly basis. Okay. Investors expect information on a monthly basis. So let's get a formal process in place. Let's do that. And then from there you start to iterate or what are the company level KPIs, and then what are like the sub KPIs underneath it? So for us, you know, being a, a, a SaaS business in the, in the software space, I mean the KPIs for us, our ARR and then looking at, you know, active usage per month, right? So those are the top two ones, but then underneath that, if you start to tie back to the fundraising conversation, you start to think about the things that potential investors are gonna care about too, as well as your current investors.

Jeff Woglom, VP Finance, OpenFin:

So you think about, you know, net dollar attention, you're thinking about, okay, how are we measuring churn from both a customer basis and an a dollar value basis. And then, you know, once you have you start to put in structures to capture that information, you look at, you know, what is the reporting that people expect? So, you know, our investors expect to know what our KPIs are, as well as, you know, the gap information on a monthly basis, but then what does management want to know? Right. So what is management focused on you know, a breakdown of costs, you know, where are we spending our money? You know, what is our cash burn look like? And more importantly than I think we'll get to this later, what does our cash forecast look like? And what are the levers that are, that are heavy inputs to that? And what does scenario a, B and C look like? So, you know, I think to directly answer the KPIs that matter for us, our ARR and, you know, growth rate, active desktops, and then also, you know, cash burn, right? Cause it's going to give you a sense of what your runway is and how you need to work backwards from a timed fundraising.

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

So active desktops are kind of that primary value metric. I'm assuming that's sort of driving your pricing, your things.

Jeff Woglom, VP Finance, OpenFin:

Yeah. Yeah. So I mean, it, a couple different, you know, depending on the billing structure of a customer, but I think how many people are using your piece of software in a SaaS business, or obviously, you know, a very easy to understand and direct KPI

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

Jeff Yellen or Jo, and any comments on kind of your current reporting requirements with your existing investors and

Johanna Burke, Controller, Color:

Sure. Yes. and I think Jeff kind of hit on the main ones on our side too. I think the big thing and you know, our finance team is relatively new at color is really spending that time and like defining out what those KPIs are. Right. Like, and I think that piece often gets either doesn't get enough thoughts sometimes, right. And it's, it's really, really important because, you know, your KPIs and metrics is how your investors are going to view you. And so a big one for us right now that we tracked is bookings, right? So the total you know, value of a contract and, and that, that's a huge metric for us that we measure. Another one is we do look a lot at customer retention. Our investors, like looking at that and you know, how we can land and expand with our customers.

Johanna Burke, Controller, Color:

But the other, you know, basic ones, which honestly is not basic for a lot of, you know, startups is your cashflow working capital, your standard balance sheet income statement. And I, you know, I think the big piece is making sure and the challenging piece is making sure you've got the data to support your, your metrics. And that's definitely been something that we think about, especially as we're, you know, it's kind of like, let's define what those metrics are, what the inputs are and then getting the data. And so that's there, there's a lot that goes into the KPIs and it's constantly evolving, especially with us at color because we, we do both, we do platform software, we've gotten consumption-based model and then we're, we're service-based so there's, there's a lot in there.

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

Yeah. Complicated stuff. We've had a couple of good questions on this topic, come in from the audience, I'm going to throw one or two of these out and see if anybody wants to comment. But one of the modes, what are the general key metrics that investors want to see as part of a pitch deck or board presentation and how do they change by stage of company?

Jeff Yellen, VP Finance, CompStak:

I think that varies a lot by company a and what you do. And I think it's really it. And I realized this is an exceptionally vague response. So I apologize for that, but it's really like what, what, you know, like best represents your company and shows that your company is either as healthy as possible or on the best trajectory possible. You know, your, when you, when you are reporting to investors, especially new investors, you know, part of your job is to sell the and division of the company. Part of that, you know, you obviously don't ever want you to lie in those sorts of cases, but you know, find the metrics that, you know, typically in your industry are reported and, and see where you fall in those and, you know, select the metrics that best represent you. And then also ones that you, you manage the company around. I think those are also important. You know, how, how do you as a management team think and then how do you try to make decisions or at least you know, make an attempt to try to make decisions based on that data.

Jeff Woglom, VP Finance, OpenFin:

And I would just add, I think, especially when it relates to board presentation, when you come up with those KPIs, that, that, that, they're your key metrics, report them exactly the same format and structure each month. And if you make changes, you know, note it, what you don't want to do is change your reporting every quarterly board report. Cause you're going to spend time in the board meetings talking about the change in format, or get emails from investors of like, Hey, why did this change? And it's going to sidetrack from the strategic discussions that you want to have in a board meeting.

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

Yeah. I love some of the points you guys were making about the storytelling. And I totally agree with what Joe said on the a, there's not a lot of thought and not as much thought given to what the KPIs are often. They're just kind of assumed rather than doing more research and discussion on it. A couple of other things someone was asking who would you recommend that a startup works with to create more accurate financial modeling for investors and accounting and stuff. Someone mentioned as a response, potentially fractional CFO, but

Jeff Woglom, VP Finance, OpenFin:

I mean, you you know, I, I, I come from an accounting background. I think building an accurate model is, is a part of a job. And at an early stage startup, you're not trying to make it perfect. It's not going to be perfect because, you know, it's like an iceberg, there's the thing you think that's going to happen in front of you and then everything buried beneath the water. So, you know, I think that you, as if you're the head of finance or, you know, the, the one who does that, you should own the model and you should be constantly iterating on it and making changes to it, to make it more accurate, you know, the earlier stage you are you know, the, the less accurate it needs to be because there's, there's more uncertainty as you get later stage, I think that you know, you may build out a team, you may have a need for someone who who's an FP and a but that comes to the decision of what team structure looks like, what hiring looks like and where the best time for, you know, the VP of finance or a CFO is to spend their time.

Jeff Woglom, VP Finance, OpenFin:

It might be more on the model and the strategic finance side of things.

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

And one last one, then we'll move on to the next section. But just kind following up on something that Jeff Yellen said. One of the questions we got was how do you eliminate the drive to constantly just the reporting structure? What are we reporting on how we're reporting it? We tend to spend more time adjusting our reports than actually using the information to make informed decisions and sorry, it was Jeff Woglom when you were saying don't change the reports. Right. any any thoughts on that one and the temptation to constantly be adjusting and recording?

Jeff Woglom, VP Finance, OpenFin:

Yeah, I, from my point, I think you, if you try to be conservative you're not going to shoot yourself in the foot. So, you know, if you're constantly trying to gear up your gross margin and lower your CAC and things like that, you're just going to run into trouble later, because if you have to change it or something like that, it's just going to look worse. So, you know, for us, the success we've had in fundraising due diligence, when we talked about what our gross margin was, and we said, look, in the past, we bucketed anything that we thought might've been cogs in the cogs number. And now as we get a little bit more granular, we're starting to pull out some of those expenditures that, that aren't there, that we don't think are directly cogs. But you know, I think from if you're conservative and things, it helps again with that storytelling of where your metrics are and where they can go.

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

Okay, good. We've got a bunch of other questions here that are topics that we're going to cover a little later in the session. So I'm going to hold off on some of these, but thanks. Thanks.

Jeff Woglom, VP Finance, OpenFin:

Yeah, I think there was this one person that had a question about for science people, their request to adjust reports. So, you know, there's a lot of details that go into metrics that you, you calculate. So, you know, what people you identify as part of the cost of goods sold, what costs go into sales and marketing, how you allocate general costs to different groups. And I think, you know, what we're talking about is if you change the, the, the math of the formula of what goes into that calculation based on people's requests what we're saying is that you might remember in trouble

Johanna Burke, Controller, Color:

And I, I, it makes it it's really important to define those upfront. It's great point, Jeff, it's something like we've, I've probably spent my first three months at color defining out what that is. Just so you know, we don't confuse investors in the board if we're moving things around.

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

Okay, good. Well, let's switch gears a little bit and talk about my favorite subject, which is Billy. Probably not, everybody's most interesting topic, but Jeff Yellen, maybe you could start us off and talk a little bit about some of the challenges that you guys have at comp stack in terms of complexity and pricing or contract structures, or some of the, some of the things you were struggling with in terms of getting the bills out on time.

Jeff Yellen, VP Finance, CompStak:

Sure. And I agree it billing is a topic. I really like to say, you know, sometimes I feel like Scrooge McDuck when I'm, you know, just you know, the gold coins are going be coming in from billing. And it is the way to, you know, for cashflow, like if you don't bill, you're not going to get paid. And you know, I think from a SAS perspective, revenue recognition is a challenge. And I actually can't take credit for choosing Ordway. My predecessor made that choice and, and frankly, he left me with a fantastic solution. And I'm not just saying that because Ordway is the sponsor. I, I genuinely like if I left Comstack and went somewhere else in the SAS space, 100%, I would you would use Ordway again. I, think, you know, revenue recognition is a challenge and tracking it and then being able to take that data and do something useful with it can be a real challenge as well. And I think Ordway from a, that standpoint is, is very helpful. Yeah, I, I don't want to sound like too much of a commercial for you, but that's that, that's where we are

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

Always appreciate the kind words. Thanks. Joe or Jeff Woglom, any thoughts where you guys on that kind of that same topic challenges with pricing, contract structures, turning them into bills?

Jeff Woglom, VP Finance, OpenFin:

Yeah, I mean, I don't want to sound like too much of a cheerleader, but I, if I would come across as even more of a fan of Jeff Yellen I chose Ordway as our done system and I'm evangelical about it. One thing, the term we used from our sort of finance and operations and legal was that we want to say yes to the business when they have an idea, we want to say yes to the business weather. And then it's our job when we say that to protect us from a legal standpoint, from a finance perspective, et cetera. So the reason why, like Ordway and why I'm a fan is that there's the ability to customize the billing schedules, the rev rack you know, all of those things, you know, I think one caveat is that we're a SaaS business.

Jeff Woglom, VP Finance, OpenFin:

We've gotten pretty lucky with how our contracts are and how we recognize them under 606, but the Ordway tool and, and how we've done it and set it up is, is really powerful in that, you know, in some sense, I can set it and forget it, like the, the old artistry checking commercials in that once the contract's in there, I know what's going to be right. And then I can spend my time on more value, add and think about forecasting and things like that. So you know, on the billing management, it's critical to stay up to speed on when you're going to get paid, right. Cause that's gonna help you forecast cash. And then, you know, on the other side, you know, we have customizable invoices that look super pretty, that our design team said like, Hey, use these colors and things like that. And then when it comes to 2 billion customers, we're, well-organized, we're on time. And then, you know, on the AR side, it's just trying to kill them with kindness to get paid,

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

Always good strategy.

Johanna Burke, Controller, Color:

Joe, any comments from you about, I feel like I need to implement Ordway. So villi is honestly one of, you know, a pain point on our side. We just have very complex, we don't really have standard, you know, contract terms. And so I, and as a result, our invoicing is just a challenge. Getting the data to bill an invoice is a challenge. And so one of the things it was one of the first things we implemented at my current company is, is a deal best function, right. And really working with the sales team with the legal team to really like define out like what are, you know, standard deal, like pricing terms, what are standard contract terms. And that really, really helps kind of broadly, you know, our, you know, the legal team, the accounting team, it helps the sales team too, because it gives them a little confined and as to why you know, what, what is acceptable and what we can and cannot do. And, you know, there's always exceptions, but that's definitely establishing that deal desk function where we've got standard price lists, we've got standard terms it's really, really helped. Kind of standardized things, imagine billing, like hundreds of customers with all different pricing and billing terms. It's a lot. And so, but we are constantly looking for automation efforts and I will definitely be looking at Ordway very soon.

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

And just out of curiosity, is the deal desk report to finance or is it under sales or

Johanna Burke, Controller, Color:

It's currently under rev ops. But it's, you know, that we are so like, we might as well be working on the same team because we are, so we work very tightly together.

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

Got it. Okay. well let's, let's keep going here. Don't want to spend too much time on this topic. But just curious on ASC 606 revenue recognition, I remember there's just a ton of fear, uncertainty, doubt, hype, whatever you want to use to describe the big, massive changes that we're going to have going to happen when we adopted the standard a year or so ago. Jeff Woglom kind of any, just kind of general advice on maybe folks that haven't been audited yet, or aren't familiar with 606. Any wisdom there?

Jeff Woglom, VP Finance, OpenFin:

Yeah. I mean, I think anyone who is going through their first audit or is already under an annual audit regime is loop your auditors in. So if you say you have a new contract that has a weird structure reach out to your auditors, you're going to pull of your audit work forward and get their blessing on how you treat something and save yourself. Then I'm telling you, you know, in December that, Hey, you did this wrong or then the next year doing it wrong. So I think bring your auditors in when you can. And then the other side is you know, there's a ton of materials out there from not only the big four, but then also the, you know, the, the tier below the big four that has, you know, usually specific sub guides for your industry. And you can find good examples and then document it, you know, write down what your thought process is, you know, what you're reporting and then you know, action it, and then you have a defensible position for when you do get audited.

Jeff Woglom, VP Finance, OpenFin:

You know, I think I mentioned earlier, we were lucky that, you know, our SaaS product fell under the treatment to, you know, recognize equally over a period. So that didn't necessarily change our gap reporting and have an impact. But if it did you know, we would have proactively went out to our investors and said, Hey, you know, our gap revenue is going to change because of X reasons. And this is what the expectations are that, you know, maybe lumpier, you know, someone's maybe a big recognition up front and other other ones aren't there. And then, you know, because, you know, obviously gap reporting is, is critically important, but investors also want to see how you're doing. So you may point them to other KPIs that you've previously defined and worked on. So they think you can, they can continue to get a better sense of how the business is doing.

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

Thanks. Any other comments on the river X step before we move on to the next topic? Shockingly, didn't get any questions from the audience in this one, but okay. Let's shift gears a little bit and, and talk about talent. The war for talent has never been greater. You hear about the great resignation and just particularly those of us that are in the technology space just feels like kind of crazy times. Maybe before we get to that, then why don't we back up a little bit Joe, maybe you could start us off just you, you joined color not too long ago, so it's probably fresh in your mind, but what was the team like when you joined you know, how did you think about building it out? Who's your first hire? That sort of thing.

Johanna Burke, Controller, Color:

Yeah. Great question. And, oh my goodness. The war for talent is crazy. It's probably one of the biggest things that keeps me up at night. So but when I joined color, we basically had two people in the finance org full-time we were heavily augmented through consultants. And so since joining, I think we've now grown, we've got about 15 people on the accounting side, which it just like completely, I feel like we're a part-time recruiter on the side, but it's so great to have the team built out. But you know, I think kind of the first thing that I thought about is like, I need to get out consultants are great, but I also think it's important. You know, if, if internally you've got the resources in a long-term need to really kind of bring it in house, if you can, and, and really own your numbers yourself.

Johanna Burke, Controller, Color:

Right. I find oftentimes consultants they're, they they're great to augment, but they don't, they don't own. Right. and so the first hire I met ironically hired was our director of billing and collections you know, Cash is king and getting money in the door and improving your DSO. For me, is it that in payroll are my two, like most important roles. They got, I had a payroll manager. I do worry I'm like if I didn't make payroll or pay, make payroll on time, like, I think that would be like, I'd have, I don't know, I'd probably have to hire a body guard outside my house, but those are the two most important roles that, that I brought on we've since flushed out the team to bring on assistant controller and TL. And then various like AP AR AR folks as well.

Johanna Burke, Controller, Color:

I think just one of the things kind of like the two learnings when building out a team that's been just, you know, that I've kind of like taken and learn from is I think a lot of the times, especially in like high growth startups, like I've, we've got like two final candidates and, you know, we've got a really scrappy, more junior person that hungry and then a really seasoned person we've often gone for the scrappier person just because startups are chaos. Right. and so I will scrappy person that's gonna lean in and like, not be scared. And so, so it's, it's funny that that that's kind of, and it's something I talk about with my team as we're looking to hire. The second thing is, is as mine. And one piece of recommendation for all too is, you know, we've had a lot of great candidates.

Johanna Burke, Controller, Color:

But you know, I think it's like when we'll, we'll go through panels and someone's like, you know, like thorough, okay. But like I really need help. So let's just move forward. I always say, I'm like, is this like do you need a 60% person? Do you need a hundred to seven person or 120% person for the role? And someone's like, I, you know, I need that hundred and 20% person for that role. And so my answer is always like, let's hold out, let's wait. And let's think of other ways that we can augment our team until we find that right person. And I think like the it's an important strategy because you want, you really want to build them, bring the right person onto your team, people onto your team. And that, that also helps with retention. Right. If you know, and so it's definitely been a challenge, especially in today's climate.

Johanna Burke, Controller, Color:

You know, I think accountants and finance folks are like in very high demand. It's awesome. But I think it's great, but I mean, it, it's, it's definitely, if I can not stress enough, it's really important to, to wait for the right hire. You want to hire, you know, someone that's, I always like to say, I like to hire smarter and stronger people than me. And it's, it's, it's definitely proven. I think, you know, I've held out my last comp, you know, last companies I've worked at and just felt like all star teams and it's just really made kind of the day to day reporting fundraising much easier. Yeah, I guess that's all I have Steve on hiring. I could talk about it for days.

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

Yeah, that was great. And I totally agree with that, that, that tug of war between trying to get immediately relief and hiring the person that you've got right in front of you versus waiting for the right person. It's just such a, it's a painful challenge, but you're right on Jeff Yellen, you mentioned you were a team of one in a company of 100, but to have have plans to hire more, how are you thinking about building out your organization?

Jeff Yellen, VP Finance, CompStak:

Right. You know, I think overall, while I think hiring, you know, frankly in our, in our situation has become essential. My ultimate goal is to be able to replace myself with technology. And if I, if I take myself out of the job because of technology, I will go and find another job and do it again. So I, I think in terms of scaling the, the often the, the most scalable thing you can do is to take a process and automate it. And that is something that we have done probably up to the limit w with our tech stack. And we're, we're to the point where we, you know, have head count for the finance function. And my strategy has been to compliment me with somebody who has a skillset where I am I'm weakest. I am not an accountant.

Jeff Yellen, VP Finance, CompStak:

I know enough about gap not to be dangerous, but I also know that I'm not a CPA. So we, we have an offer out to a CPA, and I know we're going to talk a little bit. They were Joe alluded to how hot the market is. So we found, you know, in my view, again, like in terms of, you know, trying to, trying to find the ways to automate finance as much as possible. I think she is very much a, you know, an athlete in that, like she is willing to do it all. But, you know, she has the specialized skill set to, to really take us and get us through a first time audit and to, you know, build out the team on that side while I will focus more on the strategy analytics and FP and a side of the business. And over time, you know, those areas will grow you know, both in terms of software and people to support the organization.

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

And I

Jeff Woglom, VP Finance, OpenFin:

Love how Jeff described the end and Joe as well, I guess, a counterpoint that there's multiple ways to do things successful successfully is that when I thought about bringing someone onto our team, instead of complimenting you know, my skillset and getting someone with a different background, what I wanted to do was step more into the strategic finance side of things. So if we take a step back and look at, you know, the modern CFO, you know, CFOs come from one of two tracks either it's, you know, the accountant track or the more strategic finance track side someone's worked in, you know, VC or PE or maybe investment banking and has come up on that side. So for me as an individual and thinking about what our team needed and wanted to do, I come from an accounting background, but wanted to focus more on the strategic finance side.

Jeff Woglom, VP Finance, OpenFin:

So our hire was actually you know, more on the accounting side. So we have an assistant controller and who's is doing great and she's, she's ramping up quickly. And that's allowing me to hand off a lot of the accounting reporting, the blocking and tackling day to day so that I can focus more on the strategic finance side, so I can learn to do that and spend more time on it. So I don't think my approach is more right than Jeff's approach. I think there are two different ways to do it. Although I think Jeff should go through his you know, his first audit, just, just by himself, just to get the full experience of, of being an accountant.

Jeff Yellen, VP Finance, CompStak:

That is one thing that w where, you know, you do need people in terms of an audit. That's a great point where, you know, in terms of controls where, why we have as good of controls as I can implement that as a team of one. And basically that is an iron fist and you know, the, my, my true belief that I would not do well in prison. And unfortunately we kind of have to rely on those, but as we build out the team and build out the function in the company more processes and, you know, better controls will be in place. And that is obviously essential for an audit. So that, that's a, that is a good point. Jeff,

Jeff Woglom, VP Finance, OpenFin:

And someone in the chat raise the question about what is strategic finance. So if you think about accounting as reporting and looking backwards, what has happened so far, I would consider strategic finances forward looking. So, you know, forecasting, budgeting you know, M and a acquisitions, you know, going public that forward sort of looking activities is what I would define a strategic finance.

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

I ironically, you know, it's just kind of get us to show that the war for talent is real, like this chatter that's going on in the chat about someone looking for a CFO for a VC backed SaaS company in case anybody in the audience is interested in that, check that out. Any other comments on talent, like you know, hiring a remote versus a headquarters, diversity and inclusion. Any, anything else you guys want to share with on this topic before we move on to the next one?

Johanna Burke, Controller, Color:

Yeah, I think it's really interesting with COVID and the remote work model. I know, like for me it works and so we've actually, we're at least with my team we're remote first. And Hey, it has just been, our, our talent pool is just insane, right. When you open it up to the rest of the us. And so I think when hiring, you just have to really task for, you know, is that person, you know, a self-starter, are they going to be able to collaborate via zoom because it's a different skillset, right? Like, I don't know how many of you all have tried to collaborate and solve via zoom, but it's, it's definitely different. But I definitely think you know, remote decentralized approach is just, I mean, I it's blown me away in terms of a pool of talent. I think the one thing though, and it's really important if you are going to build a remote team that you build within your budgets or building with, you know, your, your team that you have, you know, quarterly or semi-annual in-person events.

Johanna Burke, Controller, Color:

I know it was my team. We like to meet quarterly and it's just really nice to meet people face to face and like have that human, you know, interaction not via, via, via zoom. So that's just one thing that we've kind of built within color. And it's, we've had already, you know, team, you know, our first team, you know, onsite, which is funny to say it's not. And, but it was just fantastic. And I think it just really built our team culture. It's really hard to build culture, I guess, remotely. So I think, you know, having those touch points at some sort of defined cadence really helps the remote work life work,

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

Jeff and Jeff, just out of curiosity, are you guys hiring near headquarters office or, or you open it up kind of nationwide or

Jeff Woglom, VP Finance, OpenFin:

So my assistant controller is based in Miami. We as an organization, we're generally, you know, New York and London pre pandemic. And since then we have hired in, I want to say 10 or 11 states, and we're now a hybrid forever company. And I think that that's good and bad, you know, if it was up to me, everyone would live and work in New York, but that's just because I live in New York and I like going to an office. I love the office atmosphere and sitting in my basement here which isn't exactly clean, sorry. Isn't my ideal working situation, but it's, it's this, this hybrid world is, is certainly the future. So we all need to adjust. And if companies that say you need to be in the office, that's a slippery slope for the accounting and finance profession, because you certainly don't. So it gives you an opportunity to get really talented individuals that may not be on the market.

Jeff Yellen, VP Finance, CompStak:

I completely agree with all of that. I am higher or I'd rather I opened the search nationally and then thought about it and decided I wanted the person in New York. We are back in the office three days a week as any good commercial real estate company or company in the space should be. And you know, we I think there are real benefits of being together and of developing the, the in-person relationship. And while I, I do enjoy the, the two days remote there, there is a real benefit to being together and I'm not, it's hard to replace that. And you know, w when you're not together, I think Steve, you had asked one other question around diversity and inclusion and, and the finance and accounting function. If you, if you're not looking for that, if you are not trying to diversify your team you're not, you're really not trying it is very doable. It, it just is the talent pool is there. So I think that is something that everybody should have on their mind. Assuming that you think that a diverse team can see things in and flag things and recognize things that perhaps somebody else just will miss.

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

Okay, great insights. Let's switch. And I was going to talk about just the, the kind of the mega rounds and evaluation and the IPO's and stuff. Somebody put a question in the chat that that's kind of a similar to what I was going to ask, but any concern about the dislocation valuations between private and public markets, probably VC investors are valuing companies way more aggressively than the strategic public markets, a hundred X versus 10 20 X ARR, how much concern is there, the liquidation preference associated with a large later stage round stepping on everyone else in exec. So I guess just in general, any comments on kind of the fundraising climate and what's going on in the VC space. And,

Jeff Yellen, VP Finance, CompStak:

But I will quickly say, because I know Brendan asked that question and Brendan is with a escalate, a company that has, you know, did our venture debt earlier this year. And just so he knows you know, in, in terms of our valuation, it is way too low. And, you know, we, we won't face those issues at all. But no, I think you raised a really good point. And I think the, the vintage 2021 fundraising could end up having some difficulty, you know, these companies that are raising a lot of money this year could have some difficulty over time. And we ha we have no idea how this plays out, but there is a lot of money that is investing probably making great investment decisions and probably at the right multiples. But if by chance the multiples are too high and liquidation preferences do come back.

Jeff Yellen, VP Finance, CompStak:

I, I mean, like the story plays out the same way with all companies where, where that happens and you have down rounds and investors get crammed and employees options are underwater, and it's, it's not a good situation. So, you know, while I don't want to necessarily give the investors back the upper hand because that happens almost every year, other than 2021, and maybe the, the late nineties you know, it is important to make sure that, you know, you're, you're not sacrificing, you know, th that you have some margin for error in execution, because, well, we all can create a financial plan sometimes, or at least when other people model it, it doesn't always go to plan. And I think it's just very important to recognize that you know, there, there could be challenges and you don't want to find yourself in a situation that you can foresee. That is definitely some optimal.

Jeff Woglom, VP Finance, OpenFin:

Yeah. I think Jeff hit the nail on the head. I think one thing you can do practically with that is, you know, if you're out there and you have, you know, your past couple of million in ARR, and you're looking at, you know, a hundred X, current revenue, multiple, you know, I think it's up to you to, to portray a scenario to your CEO and your leadership team that says like, okay, maybe we don't grow 300% each year for the next three years. Maybe we only grow at 75%, which by any definition would be great growth. Like here's where we are in ARR. And here's what we'll run out of cash. And now that a hundred multiple is going to be a 50, a 20, 15 X multiple. Here's what the company valuation is you know, and I think that, you know, what you would save up front and dilution early on, you know, you would destroy with a down round later. So I think it's super important to occasionally be the Debbie downer that, that basis it with facts, like, here's what it looks like. Here's, you know, cash burned in that downside scenario. And here's where you would be. So let's look at some multiples now for similar companies at that stage, and maybe the fundraising isn't as frothy as it is right now. So being that voice of reason or challenging your, your leadership team in the right way is something that's that's I think the job of the finance function, super-valuable,

Jeff Yellen, VP Finance, CompStak:

I think one other point that is not related really, but I think one thing that you know, the whole, everyone is seeing is that due to the amount that has been invested and everybody is chasing growth for the right reasons that growth is often coming from two real, you know, really two areas, product and tech in sales, and the, the amount of inflation in the product and tech area is really kind of crazy. And I I'm hearing it from others and we're seeing it firsthand. So I mean, that's just one thing to keep in mind in terms of the overall environment product and tech has become a very, very, very valuable skillset.

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

Okay. Kind of following up on this wanting to shift and to talk about budgeting, forecasting, and planning. I know a lot of us, we, in a weird way, we're on the calendar year, fiscal year, so we're already starting the 20, 22 planning. And I I'm really struggling. You just look at what's going on in the macro economic situation with, you know, energy prices, skyrocketing, and the labor crunch and stock market keeps going higher and higher. It's kind of hard to believe this keeps going on forever, but how are you guys thinking about, you know, forecasting revenue next year and how aggressive to be and kind of the pros and cons of you know, being overly aggressive, potentially missing the plants everybody's given me the same kind of same kind of hand motion anyone want to start?

Johanna Burke, Controller, Color:

Yeah. I think for us, it's really, it's a partnership, right. And so we're really like, as we're forecasting revenue, it's really important to, like, we've got our, our, our chief commercial officer and partnering with her and, and really making sure we're aligned on like, what, what, what that growth looks like. Right. And, and then like pushing, pushing the sales team and say, Nope, we, we definitely need, you know, you know, the other 10% growth, right. And really kind of helping them articulate and help them drive, you know, what initiatives we're going to take to see that growth. I think with with being in a high growth startup and, you know, even with color we're in co like, you know, we, we do have a lot of you know, we do a lot of COVID and who knows what's, what's going to happen.

Johanna Burke, Controller, Color:

Right. it's really hard to predict, but I think it's really important to put together a forecast and put together a target. And I think it's important to put a long range, you know, short-term forecast and the long range forecast, just to give, you know, numbers, to track for you. If you totally over, you know, exceed your forecast, that's fantastic. If you're under then go back and reflect, why understand why? I like, I think for us, it's like, I can't stress the importance to like, work with your, you know, in coming up with your forecast though, you know, working with, you know, your CEO, working with your chief commercial officer, working with your product team, just to make sure that, you know, as you're putting numbers together, you've got tight alignment and really kind of pushing the org. I think finance's role is really to push the work to kind of get that, that growth up. That's at least how we are, how I've approached it currently, and in the past,

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

How about budgeting? You know, like I said, a few minutes ago, like this is my third startup in a row, and either budgeting exercise every fall, you know, put these numbers down, they almost immediately change even before the end of the year head count and all these sorts of things. I mean, what's, I guess Jeff, Jeff Woglom, I'm like, what is the real purpose of budgeting kind of in this, this environment?

Jeff Woglom, VP Finance, OpenFin:

Yeah. I mean, I think like forecasting budgeting, all those things are interchangeable terms, right? So I think there's the requirements of, you know, for instance, our series C docs require us to provide a budget by December 1st, every year for the following year. And, you know, the, the way, see what the purpose is a to complete that requirement, but B what is our benchmark for the year and the best budgets and the best processes tied to your KPIs of business and where you're trying to go. So, you know, I think to, to, you know, save our version and my version of what, what Joe was talking about is that, you know, when we think about forecasting first revenue, you know, we're trying to do it from both a top-down and a bottoms-up basis. So, you know, if we say from a bottoms up based, okay, how many salespeople are we gonna have?

Jeff Woglom, VP Finance, OpenFin:

How many are we hiring? What's the ramp up person for a ramp up period for a salesperson what's that going to get us on a revenue basis? And then top line, like, what is our expected growth, right, is a as a growth stage company, you know, we're expected to grow at a, at a particular percentage each year. So, you know, we're, we're looking at, at that way. And then we're also looking at in another bottoms up analysis on a per customer basis, how many customers were you assigned? How many users is that what's the price per user and those all need to sort of get to the same end of your target. So then, you know, your, your budget and forecast process can help guide your definition of KPIs and vice versa so that, you know, the organization is aligned on what you're going to do and how you're going to get there.

Jeff Woglom, VP Finance, OpenFin:

And then once the budget's done, you know, I think the, I guess if we are separating budget and forecasting on the forecast front, it's, Hey, like, what is our cash run date? You know, what is scenario a where we're on plan scenario B, where we're you know, below plan, seriously, we'll weigh below plan. And what are the triggers that if we're way under plan, what are we going to do? And what are the actions that we're going to take? What does it look like? And having that in a, a functioning model, and for us, it's, it's a Google sheet where we can change different assumptions and show the business, Hey, this is what this will do to our business and where we'll end from a cash standpoint and, and different metrics and things like that.

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

Thanks, Jeff Yellen, any comments on this? Just kind of general topic?

Jeff Yellen, VP Finance, CompStak:

No, I mean, I, I think Jeff is, you know, especially his top-down and bottom-up you know, perspective is very healthy. I, it, at a bare minimum, it's a sanity check. If you are, you're trying to sell it at 10 times, your sales team's quotas you're probably going to miss or you need to expand your sales team pretty quickly. So I mean, it's just a, it's a good way of thinking about things. I think that's a great point, Jeff.

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

Okay. kind of a related topic around all this strategic finance stuff. You know, what are some of the ways that you're trying to elevate finance's role in the organization and make it a little more strategic and have more impact on the different functions, whether it's product or engineering or sales, customer success, any strategies or recommendations there

Jeff Yellen, VP Finance, CompStak:

Always try to be the loudest voice in the room, always try to be. And then when, when marketing says they want to spend money just yell. No, no, I, I think you know, I, I think they're, you know, both Joe and Jeff have mentioned it, buddy. It's so much about being a good partner and getting to a yes, and being able to facilitate, you know, things that are going to grow with the company and make the company better. So I, I, I realized like that if it were for every organization and for every function in what they can do, for instance, Joe was referring to rev ops, which is an aspiration of ours, but a lot of that lies in, you know, operations in finance and finance and how can we do various things to make sales and marketing smarter and make them, you know, make better dollar decisions with their budgets.

Johanna Burke, Controller, Color:

Yeah. I think that's a great point, Josh. And, you know, I think as finance folks, we have like the most insight right. To how the business is doing when we see the numbers we've got, you know, like you can, there, there's a lot of information there. And I think it's, I always tell my team, I'm like, we're in like a below the line role, but let's be bubbling thinkers. Right. And so if there's margin opportunities we're missing, right. That you can see just due to leakage or, you know, w w we have inventory. And I know this is more focused on sauce, but like, you know, like costs are going up, like why let's challenge the business and ask the question. I think it's, you know, anytime you can get basis points on your margin due to your insights, and then it's definitely, you know, just important to share those insights, the other piece.

Johanna Burke, Controller, Color:

And it's funny, I actually had a conversation earlier today, like timeliness is everything right. And, you know, it's, I feel like as finance folks, we kind of balanced, accurate, you know, we're all kind of, how do we get accurate? And, you know, sometimes it's like, let's get numbers out. They may move a bit, but like, let's get the insight to our business. Let's get insight to our commercial officer to show that, you know, to give, you know, are we growing, is this new strategy working? And then I think sometimes it's, you know, it's important, you know, to ensure that you're, you know, giving timely numbers. And sometimes that outweighs the accuracy, which I know a lot of accounting folks to have a hard time doing, but I think it's really, really important.

Jeff Woglom, VP Finance, OpenFin:

Yeah. One thing that's just a minor point to add to this, like sales and marketing as a general, always want to spend more money. So, you know, how do you get them to define what they're getting for that spend? And then on the other thing, the thing I learned that surprised me working at OpenFin is that like our engineers are fairly stringent on things, right. You know, they're not, they're saying like, Hey, we want to use this system. Here's our, you know, why we want to use it. If you take a step back from that for a finance perspective, you know, most of our cost is personnel. And most of that personnel costs is engineering and software development. If there's a tool out there that can make them one or 2% more effective, that's a worthwhile investment for us. And to get you know, engineering to think that way, or to think about, Hey, is there anything we could do to like super power? Our employees was, was a really positive value add discussion that I got to have with them. We know with our head of engineering and, you know, we upgraded some, some tools that we use and things like that. And I think it's you know when that shows, Hey, we'll spend money when we should. And, and, and, you know, makes an investment or people to, to be better at their jobs.

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

So kind of tying into to tools and technology and systems. There's been a couple of questions that have come in Jeff with a comma as a one person team you must be very automated, which you referred to a few minutes ago. You're curious what software tools you have in your stack and which ones you find the most helpful?

Jeff Yellen, VP Finance, CompStak:

Well, I am a hologram, so we'll start with that. And I think Jeff Jeff w if you want to, to weigh in as well, because I do think we have fairly similar tech stacks and ways you know, in views of what we, what we should be doing. As a, as a GL, I use QuickBooks something I inherited, frankly, the, the ease of use has real value, at least at, at the stage where we are, we are kind of outgrowing it and that we have a second entity and they have found a consolidation tool to try to keep it because right now I just can't take on the switching the times switching costs of, of going to a more robust system. And then on top of that, you know, Ordway, I probably spend more time in Ordway than I do in QuickBooks.

Jeff Yellen, VP Finance, CompStak:

I, I spend a lot of time and part of that is, you know, getting everything to look the way that we want getting our billing out you know, working with our client success team on commissions. And yeah, I think frankly, in some ways, because of some of the SAS metrics that are available in it kind of counting the gold coins seeing where we stand as close to real-time as possible from a revenue standpoint. And that's a very valuable tool a of, in terms of cost management to use bill.com and for Devi for credit cards. On the commission side, we use spiff and on the FP and a side recently committed to a company called mosaic in trying to build out the financial model in budgeting that way. I can't imagine, you know, I knew Jeff is doing it in Google sheets.

Jeff Yellen, VP Finance, CompStak:

I, I can't, I've never done it in anything other than Excel. You know, to give you a sense of how this company uses Excel. They gave me a Mac when I started and if you are, if you've never used a Mac, it doesn't have function keys. So it's basically a paperweight. So I am pretty excited to to try doing it through a system where I should, you know, it, it integrates very well with QuickBooks and it should be able to get, you know, budget to actuals and reports to people on the team. And, you know, we'll grow with that over time. But you know, Jeff, do you have any other, anything to add in terms of your stack where, where you've added tools that are particularly useful?

Jeff Woglom, VP Finance, OpenFin:

Yeah, no. I think the point you made about QuickBooks, like, I'm sure there's someone from NetSuite on this conference. Who's going to email me after this, trying to get me to do a demo, or they have a discount. Cause I feel like they email me all the time. Then once actually showed up at my office, uninvited live in college tumbler month, but that's, I guess another story. So we use QuickBooks for a us entity zero for a UK, Canada, and a tool called fathom through consolidation and similar to what Jeff said, you know, at our stage, I see no need reason not to use QuickBooks because of its simplicity and functionality. So what we do is we use word way as like a revenue subledger and when we're always on the lookout for other tools that would have the same function where they can be the single source of truth and allow us to automate processes.

Jeff Woglom, VP Finance, OpenFin:

So, you know, we use round-table for, for us bill pay versus bill.com. You know, we use Carta, we use Brex instead of Divvy. And you know, I think that the that's pretty much it, but it's, you know, the amount of tools out there are, you know really incredible of, of options you're out there and people have to reach out to you and give you a demos. You know, I think there's one called revise that just came out you know, we use quota path for, for commissions, but yeah, the tech stack stuff that's out there for, you know companies that don't require the complexity of, of NetSuite or enact are really, really powerful and super exciting time.

Johanna Burke, Controller, Color:

Joe, how about at color? Any any additional systems that are worth mentioning to the group? Yeah, so, so we're in, I'm in, we're in that state company. We implemented it over a year ago and we're kind of going through a Rio. We had a botched implementation, so we're going through reimplementation right now of that, but we are actually looking to, and I'm sure one of the Justin, I'm sure I'm going to get some sales pitches after this call, but we are looking to replace a number of our, our, our, our our, our, our tech stack looking at we're on bill.com. Love it. We've just outgrown it. One of the tools we just implemented, which I am thrilled about is TripActions. We replaced our Expensify and we never actually had a travel platform and there wasn't a need, but, you know, during COVID, but now people are starting to travel again.

Johanna Burke, Controller, Color:

And I've just been like, I feel like the employee experience is just so positive with, with implementing TripActions. So that was like one tool that was just really, it was a quick win for us on the finance team. We got some visibility with the company and, and honestly, it's, it was a fantastic implementation, but I think Jeff Yellen mentioned this earlier. I think it's really important to figure out, like to get a good tech stack, to avoid adding more and more and more heads. So anyway, there's so many tools out there and, you know, we're, we're constantly looking at tools to like, my goal is to automate as much as possible. And so, you know, I, I think there's a lot of tools out there. And to really kind of do your diligence as you're looking at your tech stack, you know, there's, they're never gonna, you know, there's no tool that's going to solve all problems, right. But I think, or, you know, everything you want, but it's good to kind of shop around. We're we're currently looking at, to pull T right now to replace our bill.com. If anyone has feedback, please hit me up on LinkedIn. If you're using that love to, to hear more about that. But, but yeah, we're currently our text doc is, you know, we're evolving it, but currently on net suite and so far, we, we really like it.

Jeff Woglom, VP Finance, OpenFin:

And someone asked the question in the Q and a about what areas did you attack first with technology? And I think, you know, from my viewpoint, what takes a lot of manual time and what can we lower the risk of if we automate and revenue is the easy one and that's how we, how we got to Ordway. But others are, you know, is there an AP system that you could, you know, you could take a lot of hours of a bookkeeper, someone uploading everything and, and can you do, you know, Brex does like audit, if you just forward an email through a seats at Brex, it searches for the transactions and stuff like that. So, you know, I think for us it's where is there a time suck that our people are doing re repeatable tasks that they could be doing something more value, add,

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

Okay, we've only got a few minutes left, so I'm going to go to one last topic, which is just networking and career development. I, you know, I think it's been challenging for all of us over the past 18 months with the pandemic travel, starting to come back a little bit. But there's been a lot fewer conferences, networking events. I even saw some people commenting here in the chat window about wanting to connect, which is great. But you know, what are some of the techniques that you guys have learned how to do this remotely and online? Like, are there particular slack channels or forums or organizations, and obviously ascent is one, but any others that you would recommend to the kind of finance and account counting community?

Jeff Woglom, VP Finance, OpenFin:

Yeah. And so I, I actually, I know Jeff Yellen from slack network that we're in and we had, we had chatted in this Latin network, and this was the planning for this webinars. First time we had actually seen each other talk to each other that even very video. So the off the ledger slack that's run by air base and the CFO connect one that's run by spend us are phenomenal resources for people asking questions and then people's responses to them and sort of the back and forth that goes there. And I think, you know, meek when I came from a big four into the startup world, having those two slack networks as a resource that had been, have been really, really, really helpful. And then I think the the other thing, at least, again, coming from a big four background is no one teaches you how to network.

Jeff Woglom, VP Finance, OpenFin:

And the big four, if you just think you have a network of all these people you worked with at your company when you leave, you realize that like networking is meeting different people from different companies. And I think one thing I learned was that people are generally friendly. If you, you know, there's someone that you want to connect with and ask them questions about their role or their industry and things like that. If you do it in a, a nice, polite way. And they're generally willing to meet and talk with you. And I think that as long as, you know, you're paying it forward, and if people want to talk to you, you're doing the same thing. I think it's you know, networking becomes a little bit easier once you have that mindset,

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

Joe, Jeff yelling any, anything out on that?

Johanna Burke, Controller, Color:

Yeah. I think it's definitely tough right. During the COVID world, you're like, okay, like, how do you do another zoom meeting? Right. but I think, you know, a lot of them like this, event's fantastic. And, you know, I think reaching out to people on LinkedIn right there, you know, I've actually expanded my network significantly, just, you know, as I'm looking to build my team and, you know, seeing a CFO, who's kind of built that and, you know, reaching out to them and just saying, Hey, do you have half an hour to jump on a call? Like people are generally like, very, very receptive to that. I think the other thing is, is, you know, I know like our bankers and, and different vendors often put on some awesome events and it's, you know, I think they're really important. You know, I've had a lot of great success coming, going to them and, you know, building out my network there, and then don't forget about, you know, your, you know, people you've networked in the past. Right. I think it's important to keep, continue to maintain that relationship. So, you know, I, I do like, you know, coffee hours with some of my like finance folks back in San Francisco and we just jump on a zoom and catch up. So it's definitely tough, but I think it's a little more work, but it's, it pays dividends when you do.

Jeff Yellen, VP Finance, CompStak:

I agree. I love the slack communities in particular. I actually really don't like slack internally at the company because it always feels like somebody's pulling up my sleeve. But you know, the, the communities are such, you know, both given the opportunity to give in, get, I love you know, sharing experiences and then absolutely love getting the hard questions answered for me. So w when somebody is willing to do work, my work for me for free I'm in,

Jeff Woglom, VP Finance, OpenFin:

Yeah. And one thing I find the cyber Evers is like, people are talking about things that I'm not dealing with and I may never deal with. And I'm like, oh, this is interesting. This is a problem. People deal with, like, you know, it's like, people are talking about the shipping delights if it's not an issue for us as a SaaS company, but like, it's interesting to think about how they think about things and never those of that. So I think just by contributing and reading the sort of wider network discussions, you know, you become a little bit more sort of worldly or thoughtful as a CFO type individual.

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

Okay. Well I think it's been an awesome discussion. Anything that I didn't ask about, or any, any other words of wisdom or things that you wanted to share with the group before we close out? I think we did a fairly good job of trying to get through as many questions as we can. Good. Well I'll just close it out. But just on behalf of Ordway, you know, the purpose of this event webinar was, was not to give an advertisement for us, but it would just, you know, say if, if any of you are considering grading your billing and revenue automation suite, we'd love to have the opportunity to try to earn the right to win your business. And hopefully this event has been helpful and useful for you. I know it's, everyone's super busy, so I appreciate you giving us 90 minutes. And Troy, do you have any closing remarks on behalf of the center or anything? I know one of the questions was whether the, the replay will be available and where to get a copy of my slides.

Troy Runsten, Ascent:

Yeah. So we'll be working on getting the recording up and available within the next day or two. And we'll notify all the registrants via email when it's ready. So so you can go back and watch that. And then and then, yeah, Steve, we can, we can coordinate afterwards for the slides and figuring out how to get those to the attendees as well.

Steve Keifer, VP Marketing Ordway:

Good, great. Well, one last, thanks, Jeff. Jeff, Joe, I know you guys are all super busy teams of 1, 2, 3 are quickly growing. So thank you so much for taking the time to prepare for this and, and spending 90 minutes with us. I think the audience got a lot out of it.

Jeff Woglom, VP Finance, OpenFin:

Awesome. Thanks, Steven. Thanks for

Troy Runsten, Ascent:

No, thank you all. And thanks Steve for moderating. We appreciate it. [inaudible].

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