Spend to Survive Video: Head of Finance at Tessian

Emma Knight

Emma is Head of Finance at Tessian. Previously, Emma previously held a number of roles at Boomf. Tessian is building the world’s first Human Layer Security platform to automatically secure all human-digital interactions within the enterprise.


At Tessian, managing company spend is a company-wide effort. Emma talked to us about spending cuts, constant re-forecasting, and the importance of transparency and communication – within the team and with their customers.


Making obvious spending cuts

As a software company, Tessian often relies on their sales representatives flying over to the US and other parts of the world to help their business grow. But as COVID-19 hit, their previously healthy travel and accommodation budget was the first obvious expense to go.

Besides T&E, they’ve also had to make tough decisions regarding their staff training. Since all the planning they’d done for this required the training to be in-person and in an office environment, they’ve had to cancel it – at least for Q2.

Being more cautious with spend

When the pandemic crisis began, Tessian spent a lot of time delving into scenario planning. But months later, they still don’t know how the market is going to react to these uncertain times.

So, Emma’s team continues to find value in scenarios, keeping up constant processes of re-forecasting.

Ultimately, they’re being more cautious about spend, and a lot more diligent with their forecasting. The budgets and forecasting they had in place before have been fast-tracked.

Now, they’re more concerned with tracking how accurate they are in their predictions on a monthly basis.

Talking to keep staff motivated

Within the finance team and the rest of the company, there’s been a core focus on communication. To retain motivation among staff, they’re ensuring everything is overly communicated.

With everyone working from home, a lot of the daily catch-ups that they’d normally have when going about the office on a normal day is no longer happening.

But for Tessian, casual conversations that allow their team to connect are a big part of the culture, so they’ve kept social budgets, weekly catch-ups and morning kick-offs – where they spend half the time chatting about themselves and making sure they keep those healthy human interactions.

Ensuring transparency

From the start of the pandemic, Tessian made it very clear to their team that they were going to re-forecast to make sure they were aligned with the market impact of COVID-19.

That meant, of course, changing what they’d had originally planned for the year – which was going to be a growth year for Tessian.

Now, they have a fortnightly company-wide all-hands, where they have transparent conversations about where they are as a company, and how they’re faring sales-wise as well as burn-rate.

Transparency is important to Tessian, but it’s also very important for them that their employees realise what the plan is so that everyone pulls in the same direction. They believe they can still improve how much they share with the team, such as possibly allowing company-wide access to key metrics.

Keeping customers happy

While in previous years, the company’s been lucky to see low churn, this year they anticipate more people leaving their platform – as companies cut down expenses they can’t afford to keep during a crisis.

To fight churn, they’re keeping a closer eye on customer relations, talking to their base to understand how COVID-19 has impacted them and how that affects Tessian’s churn rate.

On the side of cash preservation, they’ve also started heavily tracking accounts receivables to ensure payments are coming through in a timely manner. If they’re not, then they can find out if that’s because of current circumstances and whether they’ll have problems receiving cash down the line.

All the while, of course, trying to keep customers happy – and their own company on its feet.