How to Grow Your SaaS Finance Tech Stack

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As your Software as a Service (SaaS) firm expands, it can be become increasingly difficult to handle complex finances manually. The sheer volume of transactions in a SaaS organisation can overwhelm you, making it difficult to keep up. 

“The big, big pitfall we see is people trying to handle growth with a lot of spreadsheets” (Gene Hammons). 

 Here are 5 indicators that your existing financial system is not serving you well:  

  1. Your billing cycles and closing times are getting longer
  2. What is the solution if you can only run your business on the capabilities of your software
  3. Data is manually disconnected and handled 
  4. You won’t be able to scale your processes
  5. You rely on the back office for reporting 

What is a finance tech stack?

A finance tech stack is a collection of tools that enable you to go beyond basic accounting and out-of-date systems that rely heavily on Excel spreadsheets. It can propel your SaaS business forward and meet future growth demands. 

Setting up a finance tech stack can be time-consuming and costly. However, you can create it on the cloud by combining your favourite pieces of technology, as software integration is much easier than it used to be. Once you have a basic financial management system at the heart of your finance tech stack, you only add new technology as needed.

Why is a finance tech stack important?

  • To introduce new products to the market as rapidly as possible – you may utilise business metrics and insights to better understand your current products and find new ones 
  • To make your case marketable – to match your industry goals and expectations, you must identify, clarify, and organise your system needs
  • To respond to the needs of customers and competitors – using data insight and analytics, you may create value by changing the finance functions and, eventually, the entire business strategy
  • Organise your financial records – you’ll want to report your SaaS KPIs and anticipate your cash, billings, and sales when scaling your SaaS firm
  • To keep technical debt and monetisation at bay – as a SaaS company you want to get things right with technology as soon as possible, and if you don’t have a tech stack that allows you to pick and choose, you can end up with technology that you don’t use but are still paying for because you’re locked into a long contract 

Building your finance tech stack

It is advisable when building a finance tech stack, to employ an iterative methodology. Get the core of your tech stack up and running, and then learn how everything fits together. Where you are on your SaaS business journey will determine the state of your tech stack. Your technology and reporting requirements will become more sophisticated as your company grows, so it is important to consider this at this stage. 

Businesses frequently purchase technology in pieces, but if you don’t plan ahead of time for how it will all fit together, you may end up wasting valuable time fitting the jigsaw together. 

It is beneficial to have a thorough understanding of the financial procedures you wish to automate using the cloud apps in your tech static, as this will make implementation and any changes go more smoothly.

General Ledger (GL)

Your General Ledger (GL), the source of truth for your financial data, lies at the heart of your tech stack. It includes a cloud-based accounting system that can reduce manual labour and increase early reporting visibility. 

Charts of Accounts (CoA)

Setting up a Charts of Accounts (CoA), an organisational tool that gives a detailed description of all your accounts, divided down into subcategories, is the first step in creating your General Ledger (GL). 

The CoA can give breakdowns of the financial transactions you conduct throughout various accounting periods, which can help you organise your accounts. 

It can provide investors and shareholders with information about your financial health, which is critical as your company grows. 

Five steps you may take to expand your finance tech stack:

  1. Automate revenue management from beginning to end – to track revenue and stay compliant, SaaS businesses must put in a lot of effort, with add-ons, renewals, intricate subscription adjustments, pauses, and cancellations, they have complicated revenue recognition obligations – this will be hugely difficult if you just use spreadsheets so it is a good idea to automate the entire end-to-end revenue management process
  2. Estimate revenue, cash flow and expenses – if you can forecast crucial indicators, you can predict where the firm is headed and pursue the best hiring, acquisition and scaling strategies
  3. Make quote-to-cash integration a priority – quote-to-cash (QTC) is a business process that includes everything from creating a quote and drafting a proposal to receiving payment for services rendered – implementing QTC as a SaaS company will entail integrating your CRM system into your IT stack 
  4. Create a contract-based billing system – billing clients using labour-intensive manual computation will become a huge hassle as your organisation expands, you’ll want to use cloud technologies to automate your pricing and billing processes
  5. Create dashboards from SaaS and GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) in real time – you can make better decisions on product investments, hiring, acquisitions, churn, strategy, and more if you have fast and accurate board-level metrics 

Your tech stack will evolve in tandem with your company, so here are some recommendations for where your finance tech stack should be as your SaaS company grows:

Seed

  • Where you are now: you’re going to plant a tree
  • You’re at the start of your business, with seed capital to help you figure out if your product or service satisfies market demand 
  • You probably haven’t employed a financial person and are keeping receipts
  • What you’ll need: accounting software that can handle simple payroll and accounts payable and may already be automated

Series A

  • You may have obtained Series A capital to further invest in your users, services, or product once you get the firm off the ground, with gains in users, revenue, or other performance indicators
  • You’re searching for proof that you’re producing money and that you have a viable long-term business strategy at this time 
  • As your financial demands get more complicated, your tech stack grows in size, with a focus on order-to-cash billing and cash collection operations
  • What you’ll need: technology that can help you with revenue recognition, spending management, SaaS dashboard and reporting 

Series B 

  • You’ve turned your hobby into a company, you’re moving it to the next level, and putting the development stage behind you – you may have tens of millions of pounds in the bank
  • However, because your company is still growing, you need to have a recurring revenue model that allows you to upsell and renew clients to maintain your growth rate 
  • What you’ll need: to fulfil these developing financial demands, you’ll need more from your finance tech stack, so look for complex subscription management, revenue recognition, KPIs, and commission/expense management 

Series C-F

  • You’ve validated your business model and should look to professionalise your finances and clean up any previous experiments from your SaaS journey
  • What you’ll need: The budget vs actuals, forecasting/variance, and reconciliations will be your main focus

Sale/IPO

  • You’ll have adopted a capital-efficient approach and grown to adjacent areas and geographies ahead of a potential sale or Initial Public Offering (IPO). 
  • What you’ll need: a more standardised financial structure, with tighter controls and compliance in public company reporting and multinational consolidations 

Managing change as your company expands

  • A finance tech stack will have an impact on more than simply accounting and finance, it has an impact on sectors including sales, operations and information technology 
  • If you’re upgrading or adopting technology, you’ll need to enlist the help of everyone who will be affected 
  • Learn about what’s going on in the rest of the company – understand people’s motivations, help them progress, and make sure they understand that the new software will make their job simpler, not worse
  • You may have to deal with office politics and people who are adamant about not changing software or practices – if this occurs, ensure that these individuals are well instructed on the new technology; they may soon find it enjoyable to use 
  • To make great decisions, invest in a tech stack 
  • The finance professional is the key driver of digital transformation in mid-sized firms, with six out of ten financial decision-makers pushing change
  • Meanwhile, if they don’t invest in financial management technology, 77% will be unable to deliver insights 
  • The CFO is responsible for driving digital transformation in a SaaS company – if you are in this position, you will need a solid tech stack to make swift decisions and become the strategic financial leader your company needs
  • In an ideal world, the CFO will be changing your tech stack as it evolves, keeping up with developments and addressing market difficulties
  • The CFO plays a crucial role in maintaining your company in the game, but more importantly, you will be in charge of changing your SaaS finance unit, and eventually, the entire company, using data insight and analytics