Strategy, Legal & Operations

Modernize your cash flow visibility with cloud accounting

Experience the power of cloud accounting for modern financial visibility. Streamline cash flow and bring clarity to your business operations.

As a SaaS CFO, you probably think your job revolves around cash flow. And you’re NEARLY correct. You’re missing one vital word. Your role revolves around cash flow visibility. Without granular visibility into your finances, you can’t lead effectively, budget optimally, or devise subscription strategies. It’s a prerequisite for everything you do.

In this post, we’ll 1) Explore why financial visibility is important in SaaS businesses and how cloud accounting is revolutionizing cash flow visibility, 2) Dive into the positive impacts of cloud accounting, and 3) Discuss how the financial blindfold of legacy accounting can keep you from seeing what’s right in front of you.

Let’s get started.

Understanding the value of financial visibility

For SaaS CFOs, accurate financial data is essential for making informed business decisions and driving success. From optimizing your product pricing to slashing your churn rates, practically every goal you have as a finance leader hinges on access to trustworthy data.

That holds equally true for stakeholders in other departments at your organization. Everything is connected, and everyone needs data from your department to reach their professional objectives, from sales and marketing to customer service and other teams.

Real-time data is also crucial for making quick course corrections and adjustments to your strategies and financial operations. This newfound flexibility allows businesses to respond swiftly to changing market conditions, seizing opportunities as they arise.

SaaS metrics on an automated dashboard.

Additionally, by identifying potential problems early on through superior visibility, SaaS CFOs can take proactive measures to mitigate risks like customer churn or account downgrades.

Why is financial visibility especially important in SaaS?

Financial visibility is critical to the success of any business. However, several factors make it particularly crucial in the SaaS sector.

Subscription SaaS is a uniquely fast-paced industry with many moving pieces, such as:

  • Potentially complex pricing models: From a customer’s perspective, usage-based pricing or feature tiers may not be complicated. But once you start scaling, seemingly simple pricing structures can introduce complicated accounting scenarios. Compromised visibility can quickly lead to problems.
  • Subscription management requirements: For a recurring revenue company, things aren’t as simple as making single-unit sales and then calling it a day. In effect, you’re tasked with managing an individual subscription relationship with each user. That calls for some SERIOUS visibility.
  • Specialized revenue recognition rules: Subscription SaaS companies are required to recognize revenue as their service obligations are fulfilled rather than at the date a sale is made. So if a customer buys a one-year subscription, you have to recognize that revenue over the course of the year. That quickly grows tricky and tedious as you scale. 

As a finance leader, you want to give yourself every conceivable advantage where cash flow visibility is concerned. 

Many SaaS CFOs have given themselves a leg up by switching to cloud accounting as an alternative to legacy processes. Let’s see why.

How does cloud accounting work?

A cloud accounting system securely stores company data online through remote servers rather than onsite. 

Cloud software encrypts your financial information, keeping it much more secure than traditional data storage methods. Switching to online accounting software can also represent significant cost savings for SaaS businesses.

Additionally, because your data is stored online, team members and stakeholders can enjoy remote access from anywhere with an internet connection. Your data is also accessible from mobile devices, usually through a mobile app, and the tried and true desktop computer as well.

Financial data for a SaaS company. Remote access and data security are far from the only benefits of cloud accounting, however. Before we dive into the impact of cloud computing on financial visibility, let’s see how else it can improve your business processes.

What do SaaS CFOs gain by switching to the cloud?

As a recurring revenue CFO, you’re responsible for managing a lot at once. From ensuring streamlined subscription growth to managing key performance indicators (KPIs), revenue recognition, and much more, you’ve got quite a bit to juggle.

Accounting AI can act as your trusted financial management partner by providing:

  • Complete SaaS metrics integration: Staying on top of your KPIs can be daunting in a legacy accounting department. In contrast to manual tools, cloud software streamlines financial reporting by delivering KPI updates in real time. With a cloud solution in your finance department, you’ll never have to rely on lagging indicators again.
  • Streamlined subscription management: Manually managing customer onboarding, renewals, churn, and everything else that makes up a subscription lifecycle can quickly grow unwieldy. Automating your subscription management workflows saves time and helps you avoid costly errors.
  • Automated ASC 606 assistance: Cloud accounting software automates revenue recognition for SaaS companies. This saves a tremendous amount of time and money in the long run and also prevents revenue leakage.

Now that you’ve got more context on cloud accounting, let’s return to the topic of financial visibility. How can embracing the cloud give you a new level of visibility and insight into your company’s cash flow?

How does cloud accounting enhance your financial visibility?

The features and benefits of cloud accounting software that we’ll be covering enhance different kinds of financial visibility, and they do so in different ways.

We’ll be discussing:

  • The effective organization of financial data
  • The utilization of continuous processes for constant data flow
  • How accounting AI can give you visibility into your financial future, and more

Let’s start with your KPIs.

Role-based dashboards and continuous processes

Role-based dashboards in cloud accounting software provide real-time visibility into your key business metrics, empowering your team to track business performance much more effectively.

With these simple and customizable screens, finance leaders can quickly zero in on the exact metrics they need.

This is helpful because the relevance of particular KPIs changes from situation to situation. It varies with the type of financial decision being made, the person making it, and that individual’s desired outcomes.

This means that in addition to KPI visibility, you also need a large degree of flexibility in your SaaS metrics utilization. Role-based dashboards are a user-friendly, highly effective way to obtain it.

Your KPI monitoring isn’t the only area that benefits from continuous cloud-based processes. Accounting AI automatically updates your general ledger after each transaction, eliminating the need for a grueling month-end close. 

Automated forecasts bring clarity to your future

Visibility into your past and present finances is undeniably important. But you also need to give the future its due. 

Unless you can clearly predict your financial future with cash flow forecasts and other strategic projections, your ability to achieve subscription success will be highly limited. 

You might say, “We’re right there with you–we run forecasts all the time!” But are they automated forecasts?

Cloud accounting gives SaaS CFOs access to automated forecasts, offering real-time cash flow projections and accurate financial planning. In contrast to manual forecasting, forecasts created with cloud accounting software utilize machine learning algorithms.

This means they can dynamically shift to reflect changes in your financial circumstances. It equates to real-time SaaS forecasting and provides unmatched visibility into your future cash flow.

The cloud packs a serious punch in terms of its impact on financial visibility. But to help you get the full story, let’s examine the risks of using legacy accounting software instead of a cloud platform. 

How does that choice affect your clarity around cash flow, subscriber behavior, and other vital data?

Legacy SaaS accounting: ready for a financial blindfold?

If your SaaS business still relies on legacy accounting software rather than cloud technology, it may be time to reconsider.

The issue of visibility is especially critical for recurring revenue companies. Trusting legacy tech is like putting on a blindfold while driving and hoping for the best. 

You would never do that, and you shouldn’t try to manage your company’s finances with legacy tech, either. Both courses of action are recipes for disaster.

What specific issues and blind spots can you expect if you opt for legacy tech?

Manual accounting never paints the full picture

Relying on legacy tools for financial visibility can lead to incomplete or unusable insights. Since legacy tech doesn’t supply real-time data like accounting AI does, it’s not uncommon to find that the information you’re basing an important decision on is outdated by the time it’s used.

It’s an AWFUL feeling to think you’ve had some sort of strategic epiphany, only to realize that the data you based it on is no longer relevant.

Lagging indicators and manual software also fail to provide insights into moment-to-moment customer behavior and emerging trends. That’s a serious setback when it comes to crafting winning strategies in a dynamic market.

Data silos keep everyone in the dark

Data silos occur when companies section off their financial, customer, or subscription information, making various departments responsible for managing and updating their own “silo” of data.

Data silos create barriers to collaboration and hinder access to real-time financial information. This can drastically limit the strategic visibility of key stakeholders at your company. 

Data silos also spell disaster for financial processes like revenue recognition, which relies on data from multiple sources and moves at a rapid pace.

Siloed departments are often the result of poorly conceived manual accounting processes, and require time-consuming data entry to maintain.

Spoiler alert, in case you’ve still got your heart set on silos. Their lackluster visibility can lead directly to expensive manual errors that waste a ton of time. Tread carefully. 

Manual forecasting is growing obsolete

Manual forecasting methods are a drain on your money and time. Manual forecast assembly that uses email chains can put your financial data at risk. And on top of all that, it’s terrible for your financial visibility.

As we mentioned earlier, manual forecasts can’t provide the same dynamic forecasting results that the advanced features of cloud software can. 

But manual forecasting also limits your visibility in other ways, including:

  • Being restricted to shorter time horizons in your SaaS forecasting
  • Being unable to catch customer trends early because they were too subtle for manual analysis 
  • Putting a real damper on your scenario planning. The cumbersome manual forecasting process restricts the breadth and scope of what you can effectively plan for.

All in all, forecasting with a manual accounting system is a risky move. 

Take off your blindfold and unleash the power of the cloud

Financial visibility is a crucial component of every decision you make and every factor that shapes those decisions. 

By prioritizing clarity around your finances and business processes–and with a little help from AI–you can win your market and create sustainable subscription cash flow. However, knowing exactly which cloud solution to use can be tough. It’s an important choice with long-ranging consequences for your company.

To learn how you can select the best cloud solution for your unique needs, check out our ebook: The Definitive SaaS Buyer’s Guide to Planning Software.

The Definitive SaaS Buyer’s Guide to Planning Software

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