OpsGenie's Tim Daniels Creates Magic by Partnering with Sales & Marketing

Strategic BizOps Meetup panelist Tim Daniels, CFO at OpsGenie, talks about getting magical results when finance, sales and marketing team up.

We recently spoke with OpsGenie's CFO, Tim Daniels, when he served as a panelist at our Strategic BizOps Meetup, ‘Becoming the Growth CFO: Exploring the BizOps/Finance Connection.’ As a CFO who served in BizOps roles in the past, Tim has great insight on this topic.  

Stephanie Fox:  How have you seen the BizOps function shift from tactical to strategic?

Tim Daniels:  With my team at OpsGenie, we’ve shifted from “I need data” to “I need insights.”  It’s gone from running a report from Salesforce to using a broader set of data to create a full picture of the entire funnel, from the very top to the close of the deal. This includes showing all relevant touch points, gates and conversions and tracking all of it over time. When properly set up, the focus of BizOps today is about driving the company or the business unit forward as quickly as possible.

Stephanie: There’s been a lot of healthy discussion at some of our past meetups as to where BizOps should or should not report. What are your thoughts on this?

Tim: I think it absolutely has to sit in an unbiased location and that’s usually Finance. This is not about trust, it’s more about human nature. Individual ops people reporting into individual business units means that their focus is on helping that business unit hit its own goals, and may end up having little impact on the overall business. When building out a data warehouse, for example, this approach begs the questions: ‘Where does it sit? and “Who makes sure the data is clean and available?’ Someone needs to own such a strategic cross-functional initiative to ensure everyone can leverage its value. There’s no point in duplicating that effort.

Stephanie: How has the changing tech stack had an impact on how Finance interacts with other functions?

Tim: All the tools out there today have problems. It’s just really, really hard right now. My biggest headache is that all the tools are designed for one purpose or to serve one department. No vendor has thought it all through end to end. If someone can crack that nut and say, ‘For a typical SaaS company this is your soup-to-nuts system that works and gives you everything you need’ that would be awesome. Right now it’s brute force to try to make all the different systems talk together to give you what you need and it’s really painful.

Stephanie: The shift to the SaaS model has changed the software business for good. How has the recurring revenue business model impacted the CFO role at software companies?

Tim: SaaS certainly has something to do with it, but it really doesn’t work any more when Finance and Sales or Sales and Marketing are at each other’s throats. B2B SaaS companies need a CFO who partners with Sales, Marketing and Product to work together in order to strategically grow the business. This type of CFO isn’t always easy to find but is much more valuable to the business in the long run.

Stephanie: Since CAC, or customer acquisition costs, reflect investments made by multiple teams, transparency and accountability about the impact of those costs are critical. How do you recommend companies enable this transparency and facilitate the accountability they need?

Tim: It’s almost like a cultural question in my opinion. Startups talk about transparency, but it means different things to each company. If teams aren’t tracking toward visible goals, it’s hard for teams and the company to succeed. When different groups are focused on different goals they end up fighting. My management team stated that we’re not going to put up with this — Team Marketing vs. Team Ops. The second you have that creep in, you’re in trouble. I believe that the only way for companies to succeed is to ensure that partnership starts at the top, with the CFO, head of Marketing and head of Sales, working together. It sounds simple, but it takes a lot of hard work to make it happen.

- Steph

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Stephanie Fox

Steph served as Rekener’s Community Manager and CMO. A Rekener co-founder, she was previously Senior Director of Marketing at CCC, a $300M+ recurring revenue business, and served in marketing leadership roles at Vertical, @stake, Informio, DotContent and Meridian. Her first recurring revenue role was as an inside sales rep selling real-time stock pricing subscriptions.

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