How to build a scalable finance function

Bevy CFO Maddy Devine tells us the steps she’s taking to ensure her team can support the community event platform’s future growth.


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Financial leaders need to be forward-thinking in order to achieve long-term growth. And part of that is the ability to scale, according to Maddy Devine, VP of Finance at enterprise software company Bevy.

For high-growth companies, scale is critical. You want your business to remain sustainable as it becomes more successful, which is why it’s so important to use processes that will work for your company whether you have five employees or fifty employees.

Recently we interviewed Maddy on The CFO Playbook, where she talked through different ways Bevy, a fully remote company, introduced scalable processes in finance and other areas.

Here are a few of Maddy’s strategies for building scalable finance teams and processes.

Start with the data

In order to make sustainable changes in how your company operates, first you have to take a look at the existing systems to find out what is and isn’t working.

The priority for Bevy, according to Maddy, is revenue and new contracts. She looks at the systems and processes in place – systems like sales and commissions – and identifies which ones are barriers to growth.

In order to scale a function like finance, you have to go through the data, Maddy says:

‘You have to start with your own structure and the way that you view your business, and make sure that’s aligned with how your investors [view your business], how your company operates, how everyone is thinking about and viewing the business’.

When you have a full picture with data to back it up, it is much easier to pinpoint areas of improvement and implement scalable change.

Implement the proper tools

We all know finding and implementing new tools can be time-consuming, but in the end, it’s worth putting the effort in up front.

Maddy looks at it the same way a hiring manager looks at retention rates. It’s better to spend time finding quality candidates who will remain at your company for a long time than having to replace employees every few months. The same holds true for tools and systems.

It’s worth the effort now to find the tools that really work for you, Maddy says:

‘We could have all different growth scenarios that could happen, and if we’re not in a place where we can support or at least be one step ahead and enable that type of growth, then it’s very challenging’.

If you can find the right tools early on that will scale with your company as it grows, you’ll be able to use those processes for years to come versus having to reinvent them time and time again.

Hire the right team

For Maddy, her team members are her most valuable assets, which is why it is so important for her to hire the right people for the job.

As the team leader, Maddy doesn’t have time to be involved in every single decision – she needs to trust her team to own the process:

‘What I’m really trying to be intentional about building is a kind of future-of-finance-model team, where you have more senior leadership that is crafting the vision and being very innovative about how we actually build a function that’s scalable.’

Rather than throwing bodies at a problem, look for strategic additions to your team who can truly own their process and responsibilities. This leaves you free to lead and create a vision for the future of your company’s finances.

Think long term

To successfully scale your company’s finances, you have to stay ahead of the game.

Your company could have completely different financial needs in six months or a year, and according to Maddy, it’s a CFO’s job to be prepared for those changes.

Maddy says every financial leader needs to be able to plan long term:

‘I don’t think I’m doing my job if I’m not thinking about where we’re going to be in three to five years and understanding all of the different insights’.

Long-term thinking also helps you make effective decisions regarding new hires, system implementations, and overall process definition. When you think to the future, you can ease growth transitions so the company – and your team – continues to function to the best of its ability.

Preparing for a scalable future

Every CFO has to figure out their own path toward scalability, Maddy says:

‘There’s never a perfect balance. No finance leader has full visibility into the business at any moment in time and gets it perfectly right every time. But what we’re focusing on are creating the controls and implementing the tools that will make it easier’.

As a CFO, it’s your job to look to the future and be prepared for whatever it might bring. Scaling your business isn’t about getting it perfectly right every time, it’s about putting the proper systems in place so your company has the opportunity to sustainably grow.

 

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