Profitero's Matt Tuel is a Savvy CFO with a Penchant for Ops
We recently spoke with Matt when he served as a panelist at our Strategic BizOps Meetup, ‘Becoming the Growth CFO: Exploring the BizOps/Finance Connection.’ Matt has served in senior finance roles for the past 10 years and has a great perspective on what’s driving the BizOps function (hint: it’s massive amounts of data) and how the CFO role has changed, particularly in SaaS companies.
Stephanie Fox: You’ve been a finance executive for a number of years and have seen how BizOps has evolved to become a more strategic role. What do you believe is driving this change?
Matt Tuel: Companies are getting overwhelmed with the amount of data they have to manage. It can become paralyzing. With Salesforce there are often just too many dashboards and reports. You look at all of them and you don’t know what it means anymore. BizOps pros move from tactical to strategic when they identify the key things to focus on, help the execs understand what those key things are and why, and then enable the execs to shift and adjust when the data indicates it’s time. The process starts out as tactical, where BizOps is mining the data and building the model. Where it becomes strategic is figuring out the levers that drive the business forward.
Stephanie: How has the operations function influenced the career path you’ve taken?
Matt: I started off in larger companies in a pure accounting role, which was a good foundation for me. After some time I realized that the Finance function in larger businesses was one step removed from the day-to-day business in many ways. I eventually shifted toward smaller, high growth organizations because I could see that the Finance function plays a much more involved role in business operations. I wanted to have a much bigger impact, and I find engaging in this BizOps/Finance intersection to be rewarding.
Stephanie: Where does the operations function report to in your organization, and why does that work for you?
Matt: Our head of business operations reports to Sales and Marketing right now, which is working fine. He and I work very closely, so I think as long as you have a collaborative effort between Ops and Finance this reporting structure is OK. As we grow, I think it may make the most sense to have BizOps report directly to the CEO.
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?
Matt: Traditional financials have become far less important. That’s more like housekeeping. Now software CFOs focus on underlying assumptions about the business model. We think about the future value of the business and we focus more on SaaS metrics that pertain to growth and future profitability. The traditional finance numbers just don’t show any of that. I didn’t really understand or appreciate this shift until I worked in a SaaS company.
Stephanie: When the Finance team generates insights from financial data or business intelligence tools, how do you partner with BizOps to translate the insight into action in sales and marketing?
Matt: We have a very simple approach but it works. When we see something in the data, we bring in Sales and Marketing and take them through it in detail. We explain the assumptions, we walk through a few before and after scenarios, and get their reaction. Hopefully we end up drawing the same conclusion, which means we can collectively come up with an action plan. It works well for us.
- Got questions for Matt? Add them to the comments below.
- Matt was terrific on our panel. Watch the full-length video of the Growth CFO meetup (42 min). In a hurry? Watch the 3-minute version.
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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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