Working in SaaS or other tech companies comes with its own unique characteristics when compared to other industries. To help you on your way, here we list several self-improvement tips you can focus on to benefit the business + your own career. Have fun!

How to Stand Out as CFO in tech: Grow your Finance-specific Skills

Administrative, Accounting, and Finance Teams must often be generalists. In startups, you may wear more than one hat at a time. In enterprises, being knowledgeable in more than one area comes in handy when you need to collaborate with other team members or external providers.

The first step to delivering more value to the organization is by perfecting your craft and tuning it into the tech industry.

  • Stay updated with industry trends: Continuously educate yourself about the latest developments, regulations, and best practices in the SaaS industry. Attend conferences, webinars, and workshops to stay informed and adapt your skills accordingly.
  • Develop financial expertise: Strengthen your financial knowledge and expertise by staying updated on accounting principles, financial reporting standards, and taxation regulations relevant to the SaaS industry. This will help you make informed financial decisions and provide valuable insights to the company.
  • Enhance technical proficiency: Embrace technology and develop proficiency in financial software, data analytics tools, and SaaS-specific metrics. This will enable you to leverage technology for financial analysis, forecasting, and decision-making, improving efficiency and accuracy.

But, to become the best professional you can be, other factors come into play. Leveraging emotional intelligence and business acumen can make you stand out far more than just domain expertise.

Feed your Emotional Intelligence

It may seem counterintuitive, but to improve the output of others, you must first work on yourself. It’s not enough to know a lot – it’s crucial you gain internal buy-in for each piece of advice you share or decision you take. To do this, you can rely on career coaches, peer mentorships, and psychological consultations to:

  • Develop self-awareness: Understand your own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, and triggers. Self-awareness allows you to manage your emotions effectively and make better decisions under pressure.
  • Build empathy: Cultivate the ability to understand and empathize with the perspectives and emotions of others, such as your team members, colleagues, and stakeholders. This will help you build stronger relationships and facilitate effective communication.
  • Practice active listening: Listen attentively to others, seeking to understand their viewpoints and concerns. Active listening enhances collaboration, fosters trust, and allows you to make better-informed decisions.
  • Enhance communication skills: Grow your ability to convey complex financial concepts in a clear and concise manner. Develop strong presentation skills to effectively communicate financial information to diverse stakeholders, including executives, investors, and board members.

And, once the internal work has begun, it’s time to look at the company as a whole.

Continuously Immerse Yourself in Market and Business Intelligence

As CFO, chances are you are great at strategic thinking. The role requires you to develop a holistic understanding of your organization’s goals, market dynamics, and competitive landscape. This invariably enables you to align financial strategies with business objectives and make strategic recommendations. The key is to focus on:

  • Collaborative mindset: Foster a collaborative approach by working closely with other departments, such as sales, marketing, and product development. This cross-functional collaboration helps align financial strategies with operational goals and facilitates the growth of the SaaS company.
  • Continuous learning: Embrace a growth mindset and seek opportunities to learn and acquire new skills. Engage in professional development programs, pursue relevant certifications, and network with other industry professionals to broaden your knowledge and perspective.

Remember: self-improvement is an ongoing process. By continuously investing in your craft, emotional intelligence, and business skills, you can enhance your effectiveness as a CFO in a SaaS company and contribute to the overall success of the organization.

 

How can a CFO support the CTO and CPO to deliver on product vision?

Often, the CFO can foster a culture of open communication and collaboration between the finance, technology, and product teams. This involves facilitating regular meetings, promoting knowledge sharing, and creating opportunities for cross-functional collaboration.

By promoting a collaborative environment, the CFO can help the teams work together towards achieving the product vision. Here are some ways the CFO can provide support:

  1. Strategic alignment: The CFO can facilitate strategic alignment between the finance, technology, and product teams. By actively participating in cross-functional discussions, the CFO can contribute financial insights and perspectives that help shape the product vision and align it with the overall business strategy. This is especially important if the product tends to users of administrative profiles, for example.
  2. Financial planning and forecasting: The CFO can work closely with the CTO and CPO to develop financial plans and forecasts that align with the product roadmap. By providing financial insights and analysis, the CFO can help the CTO and CPO make informed decisions regarding resource allocation, investment in R&D, and expansion plans.
  3. Resource allocation: The CFO can collaborate with the CTO and CPO to ensure that adequate resources are allocated to support the growth and development of their teams. This includes budgeting for talent acquisition, training programs, tools, and technology infrastructure necessary for the team’s success.

Choosing between an in-house team or external contractors can help you stick to a budget without compromising quality. Making this decision can be challenging, so here’s a short comparison.

 

Topic Nearshore Team US Developer (onshore)
When costs are equal Winner
Long Term Commitment  Equal Equal
No Office Distractions Winner  –
Quality of code Most of the time, the winner

 

You can also choose to mix in-house engineers, a nearshore team, and contractors. It will always come down to your product development needs, such as specific skill sets, budgeting, and other factors. Ubiminds can guide you through this process and match the exact requirements of your product project pipeline, your allocated budget, and the time frame allotted for completion. Sounds interesting? Let’s have a quick chat!

4. Performance metrics and reporting: The CFO can collaborate with the CTO and CPO to establish key performance indicators (KPIs) that measure the success of the product teams. By developing relevant metrics and implementing a reporting framework, the CFO can provide valuable insights into the team’s performance and contribute to continuous improvement efforts.

Alberto Silveira, Head of Engineering at LawnStarter makes an exciting point when it comes to measuring the productivity ratio in software development using the carpaccio analogy.

how-to-stand-out-as-cfo-in-tech-startups-ubiminds

5. Risk management: The CFO can assist the CTO and CPO in identifying and mitigating risks that may impact the successful delivery of the product vision. This includes assessing financial risks, cybersecurity risks, and compliance-related risks. By working together, the CFO and the technical leaders can develop strategies to address these risks and ensure the team’s ability to execute effectively.

Believe it or not, the CFO can also play a crucial role in supporting the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and Chief Product Officer (CPO) by easing the process of growing successful teams that deliver on the product vision. This is because talent acquisition and retention depend on policies, pay grades, and vendor management.

It’s true! The CFO can support the CTO and CPO in attracting and retaining top talent for their teams. This involves collaborating on compensation packages, equity programs, and incentives that align with industry standards and reflect the company’s growth trajectory. The CFO can also help identify training and development opportunities to enhance the team’s skills and capabilities or suggest expanding operations to other countries.

By providing financial support, strategic guidance, and fostering collaboration, the CFO can effectively support the CTO and CPO in growing successful teams that deliver on the product vision. This partnership ensures a strong alignment between financial goals, technology capabilities, and product development, ultimately driving the company’s success.

Should I suggest Latin America as a possible solution in support of our SaaS company’s strategic goals?

Expanding your tech teams to Latin America can bring several benefits, such as accessing a diverse talent pool, reducing costs, and gaining proximity to emerging markets. As a CFO, you can facilitate this expansion in the following ways:

  • Conduct a cost-benefit analysis: Evaluate the potential cost savings and advantages of expanding to Latin America. Assess factors such as labor costs, tax incentives, infrastructure, and operational expenses. Present a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis to the executive team, highlighting the financial benefits of expanding to Latin America.
  • Collaborate with the CTO and CPO: Work closely with the CTO and CPO to understand their requirements and strategic goals. Engage in discussions to identify the specific roles, skill sets, and team sizes needed for expansion. Collaborate on developing a hiring plan and establishing performance metrics to measure the success of the expanded teams.
  • Research talent markets: Conduct research on talent markets in Latin America, including countries with a strong tech industry presence, educational institutions, and the availability of skilled professionals. Consider factors such as language proficiency, cultural compatibility, and time zone alignment with your existing teams and target markets.
  • Establish partnerships and networks: Leverage existing networks and establish new partnerships in Latin America. Engage with local tech communities, attend industry events, and explore collaborations with universities or tech organizations. Building relationships with local stakeholders can help you identify potential candidates and navigate the local business environment more effectively.
  • Consider legal and compliance factors: Understand the legal and compliance requirements for establishing an entity or hiring remote workers in Latin American countries. Consult legal experts to ensure compliance with labor laws, intellectual property rights, data protection regulations, and any other relevant legal considerations.
  • Evaluate infrastructure and connectivity: Assess the technology infrastructure and connectivity in potential locations. Consider factors such as internet reliability, data security, and accessibility. Robust infrastructure and reliable connectivity are crucial for seamless collaboration between teams in different locations.
  • Develop a comprehensive budget: Work with the finance and operations teams to develop a comprehensive budget for the expansion. Include costs related to recruitment, onboarding, infrastructure setup, ongoing operational expenses, and any legal or consulting services required. Align the budget with the strategic goals of the expansion and seek approval from the executive team.
  • Monitor and measure performance: Once the expansion is underway, establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the performance of the Latin American tech teams. Monitor metrics such as productivity, employee satisfaction, and alignment with strategic goals. Regularly review and communicate the progress to the executive team.

Remember, expanding to Latin America requires thorough planning, collaboration, and a deep understanding of the market dynamics. By facilitating this expansion and providing the financial guidance, you can contribute to the successful growth of your SaaS company’s tech teams and support its strategic goals.

To make your life easier, here is a quick sum-up of possible risks to look out for and discuss with your CLO before expanding to LatAm:

  • Background checks: how are you going to evaluate personnel’s professional and personal history?
  • Non-conflicting obligations: how are you going to ensure this is followed?
  • Co-employment risks: do you know what they are and how to comply?
  • Intellectual property (IP) ownership: how will you protect your IP?
  • Confidentiality for Personal Identifiable Information (PII) for user data
  • Equipment: how will you provide, do maintenance, and safe disposal?
  • Compliance with PCI, HIPAA, Hitech, CCPA, GDPR, LGPD

Picking the right partner is the first step to making sure you know which liabilities you can delegate and the indemnities you’re entitled to.

Mitigating these risks is a priority when expanding your team. It may seem complex at first and there are still several misconceptions on the topic, but with the right partner at your side, you’ll ensure your company complies with every single requirement hassle-free. Sounds interesting? Contact us for a free consult 😊

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