August 23, 2021

The Ever-Evolving Role of Today’s Startup CFO


We’ve taken a look at the evolving role of the startup CFO and the pressing challenges you face today.

As a startup CFO, you can spend your entire day jumping from one challenge to the next. 

Your duties go beyond those of a ‘traditional’ CFO. You’re a key player in the strategic planning of how your business will move forward.

This means you’re not only expected to know your numbers back to front, you also need to know your business just as well as your CEO.

It’s undoubtedly exciting. But, with so many plates to keep spinning, it’s tough work too.

We speak to people like you every day and there are familiar challenges we hear time and again. So what are they? And how can you go about solving them?

Let’s take a look.

Being a startup CFO is a balancing act**

In a recent Forbes interview, Melinda Whittington, CFO of the iconic furniture manufacturer La-Z-Boy, nicely summarised the dual nature of your role. 

“As the CFO, you have to keep an unwavering eye on the ‘must-dos’ – including excellent accounting and controls and cash management. Leveraging continuous improvement and technological enhancements, like robotic process automation, are imperative to improving efficiency and enabling resources to take on new challenges.” 

As Melinda points out, it’s a balancing act. 

You’ve got the day-to-day work – the tasks that simply have to be done. But you also have a pressing need to be strategic. 

And sometimes that’s the hardest part. Looking to the future and figuring out the right tools and processes that will help your company scale.

Software subscriptions & startup CFOs go hand in hand**

Today, in the vast majority of tech companies, the challenge of scaling finance (and the wider business) is addressed through software subscriptions. 

So what does the ideal finance SaaS stack look like? 

That’s the million dollar question! But it’s one you’re probably well placed to answer. Because today’s CFO deals with a huge amount of software subscriptions. 

There are SaaS subscriptions for payroll, stock, expenses, payments, billing, bank relationships, treasury, analytics, financial planning, procurement…the list goes on. You also have to understand the relationships between all these tools. Can they integrate seamlessly to keep your data consistent?

Clearly, finding the right software subscriptions is now an essential part of being a finance leader. 

But it’s also a thankless task if the tools available to you just aren’t up to scratch.

The modern CFO needs better tools**

The idea that finance leaders could be better served by your tech is a point expressed in another recent post by a16z.

The Californian venture fund agrees your role is more strategic than ever. 

The pandemic led to businesses making difficult decisions on resource allocation and cash flow planning. And “the person most critical in helping the CEO make those high-stakes calls – the CFO – is more vital than ever.”

But they also believe that the current CFO Suite doesn’t give you much of a helping hand when it comes to making the big calls. 

“None of these software products integrate with each other and none of the data flows from one product to another.” And that’s only in the finance team. “These products don’t connect to other key systems for sales, HR, and marketing functions.” 

Putting it plainly, finance tools haven’t kept pace with the demands of your role

The result? You and your team are left with inconsistent data, a mountain of manual tasks and have to chase your colleagues for invoices just to close the books every month.

In fact, in our recent survey, 3 in 5 respondents said SaaS admin stops them from doing more strategic work.

Software subscription admin stats

And that’s a waste. For you, and for your business. 

You can only deliver maximum full value if you have the time to focus on strategy and planning. Not manual, repetitive tasks. 

So, what’s the solution?

The future of the CFO Suite**

We agree that the CFO Suite deserves an upgrade. 

You are more important to your business than ever. Your technology should reflect this. 

Why shouldn’t you be able to integrate the tools everyone in your business uses with your accounting tools? 

Why shouldn’t you spend less time on repetitive tasks that could be better spent elsewhere?

That's why we built Cledara. We were the first SaaS management platform integrated with Xero. And we also integrate with Gmail to automate your software subscription invoice collection and reconciliation. 

Because we want to free you to focus on the work that really matters. 

If you’d like to find out more about Cledara and how we help CFOs like you, check out some of our customer stories here.



The software management solution for finance teams.

Learn more

Subscribe to our newsletter

Receive the latest insights in your inbox

Share this post

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay informed on the latest SaaS insights

Explore more

Explore more

The Rise of Finance AI Tools: Transforming CFO Operations

AI tools are revolutionizing financial operations by enhancing efficiency, accuracy, and strategic decision-making for CFOs across various domains such as financial planning, compliance, sales forecasting, and more.
Read more

A Guide For Your First 90 Days as CFO

Your first 90 days as CFO at a new company set the trajectory of this chapter of your career. Here’s a checklist of how to play these valuable initial weeks for maximum impact.
Read more

The 15 Top Podcasts for CFOs in 2024

Level up your knowledge as a finance professional with these 15 leading podcasts for CFOs.
Read more

9 Best Spend Management Software Solutions for 2024

Discover the best spend management software for your needs, with this detailed rundown of the tools on the market.
Read more

How to write a CFO report: 2 free examples

Assessing and communicating your company’s fiscal status is a key responsibility for finance leaders. Here are 2 CFO report examples to speed this up.
Read more

What does a great CEO-CFO relationship look like? 10 Tips

As a CFO, you’re the CEO’s right hand person. The company hinges on your working relationship—so here’s how to strengthen it.
Read more

7-Step Checklist to Improve Employee SaaS Onboarding

Here’s how to plan a super smooth employee SaaS onboarding: one that gives new hires an excellent first impression and sets them up to add value as soon as possible.
Read more

The Best Cap Table Management Software: 5 Options for 2024

Essential information on the 5 best cap management software tools for 2024, and why each one could be a great fit for your business.
Read more

The Top Subscription Analytics Software for 2024: ChartMogul vs Baremetrics

If you’re a CFO for a tech company, subscription analytics software will make your job a lot easier. Here’s a rundown of two of the best.
Read more

The Top Accounts Receivable Software for 2024: Upflow vs Chaser

Here’s everything you need to know if you’re in the market for accounts receivable software and want to make the best choice, with a focus on Upflow and Chaser, two leading options.
Read more

10 CFO Performance Metrics: What Makes a Great Finance lead?

These 10 performance metrics indicate a great CFO. Fulfil these criteria, and you’re on track to lead your business to financial success. 
Read more

How Scaleups Can Maximize Software ROI in 2024

Wondering how to improve software ROI for your company? In this post, you’ll learn everything you need to know to drive maximum ROI from software investments.
Read more

A Comprehensive Guide to Key Performance Indicators for CFOs

Here’s 23 KPIs CFOs should track in order to gain a full overview of their business’ financial health.
Read more

14 Smart Strategies to Reduce IT Costs as a CFO

Software is typically a company’s second biggest expense after payroll, so here are 14 actionable ways to get your spending under control and reduce IT costs.
Read more