Making changes to your accounting processes and software is inevitable. Omri Mor, Routable co-founder and CEO, estimates that businesses will need to make changes at least once every three years. For many SMBs, not knowing where, when, how and even why to get that process started creates a blind spot in operations.
Our latest webinar “Finance Tech Stack Done Right: Ensuring a Two-way Sync With Your Payables and Accounting System” covers all this and more. Omri, along with Matt Tait, CEO of Decimal, a small business accounting solutions platform, and Erica Toedt, head of finance and strategy of CLI Studios, a leading online dance education platform, explore best practices for determining an accounting and AP (accounts payable) switch, how to select the right finance tech stack, and how to get top-level buy-in.
If you missed the live webinar, we’ve got you covered. Read through our recap of what our speakers discussed or catch every detail by watching the recorded webinar below.
When to make a change
Matt encourages businesses to see accounting as a final step in operations rather than a completely separate department. Overwhelmed finance teams bogged down with manual processes and unable to complete daily tasks are often filling roles that no one else wants to do. As a result, these vital players wind up as scapegoats and tasked with solving operational issues that arise.
Advocating for a proactive approach, Omri strongly encourages evaluating a business need based on what your business model looks like now compared to what it might look like in 18 to 24 months. If you’re not sure if it’s the right time, ask yourself, “Are my finance team members equipped to fulfill their roles or are they being forced to implement workarounds that aren’t sustainable long term?”
If finance team processes aren’t scalable, it’s the right time to evaluate and evolve. Fintech solutions that can’t or won’t scale with you will only inhibit your progress.
What the right finance tech stack looks like
The right stack will look a little different for each business. Evaluating your specific business model and outlining exactly what you need to operate successfully will help you narrow down your stack.
With small businesses, a “team” is often a one- or two-person role, and the goal should always focus on freeing up time and preparing for growth. Matt offers that one approach is to break the functions down into specific needs: accounting tasks, taxes and strategic functions. Automation done well in these areas promotes scale.
As part of a growing SMB at CLI Studios, Erica experienced the pressure of a quickly approaching need for transition. Going from a platform that incorporated solutions for accounting and bookkeeping, AP and expense to independent and fully integrated options made it absolutely necessary to research and find solutions that simplified her team's work. For Erica, that meant finding software that supports onboarding and tracking up to thousands of independent artist contractors.
Of course, even when you determine the need and spend the time researching a new finance stack, you need stakeholder approval. Having been through this process herself, Erica says the first key source of persuasion was an in-depth cost-benefit of her labor costs. The right tech stack will provide easier processes, including tightening up month-end reconciliation so that finance teams are free to focus on strategy and forecasting.
Omri echoed this, emphasizing that while it takes time to do a thorough exploration of available platforms and software, the right software will make up for that time and more. Looking at the short-term benefits against the long-term benefits of a new tech stack can make all the difference when seeking decision-maker approval.
Customer experience in the fintech industry
A key takeaway from this discussion was the attention Erica, Matt and Omri each paid to the importance of customer service in fintech. On average, it takes seven days for an accounting or AP platform or software company to respond to a customer service request. Finance teams, however, need solutions to their software issues right away, not a week later.
When you choose your finance stack, ideally you’ll be working with those tools for the next three to five years. Your team will naturally need assistance over the course of that time, so it’s critical that the partnerships you’ve chosen will be there when you need them and have a level of understanding about your business. The partnership-focused aid solutions Erica found for CLI enabled her to more thoroughly understand the platforms and software, setting her up for success in the years to come.
Top 5 fintech stack best practices
Managing your fintech stack can get overwhelming without a few best practices to follow over time. These five tips from our speakers provide a starting point to help keep you on the right track.
1. Embrace finance process evaluation
Finance is a vital part of a healthy business. From onboarding contractors to paying vendors, it’s never a bad time to evaluate your current business model to ensure your accounting and AP solutions are working for you. Remember that the time you invest is returned for years to come.
2. Look at finance in manageable parts
The functions of the finance team are unique, and trying to fit all of these functions into a one-size-fits-all box will lead to unnecessary workarounds. Consider that your business may require anywhere from five to 15 fintech solutions to successfully run your operations the way you want. Don’t settle for rigid platforms and software; they need to be flexible and scale with your company as it grows.
3. Ensure seamless finance workflows
Finding fintech that meets your business needs is only half of the work. You also need to ensure those tools integrate with each other in a way that makes sense. Really get to know your choices to ensure that your accounting software two-way syncs with your AP and expense platforms.
4. Choose long-term fintech partners
Responsive customer service and knowledgeable staff should be foremost in your mind when you’re choosing a tech stack. The last thing you need is a partner that earns the sale and then falls off. Find partners that are invested in your success and will help you navigate use cases as they arise.
5. Prepare for what's ahead
Short-term solutions can only work for so long. Finance teams should continuously evaluate how they can effectively scale the business. Preparation is the key to success so even if you aren’t ready to make the switch right away, getting the information and having conversations ahead of time means that you’re prepared when the time is right.
Learn more about building your fintech stack
Building a fintech stack is an ongoing process. Check out these blog posts for more guidance on finding solutions that best fit your business’s needs.