When marketing campaigns get old, they’re like polyester leisure suits that seem to fit okay but look awful, explains finance chief Darrell Cox of Vena Solutions, who credits finance with helping Vena to empty its closet.
Or, to put it another way, Cox credits finance with helping Vena to fail faster.
“The earlier you know that you should stop investing, the more successful you will be at failing efficiently and having your experiments be effective,” comments Cox, who says that such experiments are frequently conducted in collaboration with the sales team, as finance seeks to lengthen its lines of sight into the sales funnel.Read More
“The further up you get in the funnel, in terms of being able to analyze where your sales leads are coming from and what your conversion rate is going to be, the more successful you can be when it comes to failing fast and knowing where you should be spending,” observes Cox.
Still, certain finance teams are better prepared than others to ascend the funnel. According to Cox, finance teams need to understand that they are not climbing the funnel in order to make business decisions but instead to influence them.
“How do you influence and lead others without friction? You put yourself in their position and begin by assisting them,” explains Cox, who notes that the most effective finance people begin by understanding the roles of others.
Says Cox: “If you can make their job easier and make them more successful, they will start coming to you.” –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: Tell us about Vena Solutions … what does it do, and what are its offerings?
Cox: Vena is a platform for finance. Our primary use case is business planning, so you can use it to do budgets, and forecasts, and rolling forecasts, and weekly forecasting, so its real core strength is in the forecasting. You bring in data from across the organization—from your GL, your Salesforce, your payroll provider—and mash it together, and it gives you all of the KPIs that you need. It’s really good at collaborating across larger organizations, so it really helps you as an organization to plan appropriately by bringing in lots of people and lots of data, whereas if you don’t have a system, you can’t do that, and thus your plan is a fraction of what it could be.Read More
I think it’s really important to have a system when you do planning. It’s actually surprising how many organizations don’t have a purpose-built planning system. They use Excel alone or some equivalent, or they might be using the planning tool that’s in their ERP system, which isn’t really a planning tool at all but just a consolidation tool. In that kind of case, an organization will probably use Excel to do the budget models on the side and then load them in, but the main differentiator that Vena has is that we’re super easy to use. We have these really elegant workflow models, and the cherry on top—or the foam on the cappuccino—is that Excel is your input/output device, entirely Excel, so you don’t have to learn some new grid—and that’s really important for a lot of finance people.
So, training is faster, user adoption is longer and stronger, and it’s just so much easier to use. You can drive your car backward, but why would you drive it backward if you don’t need to, right? It’s the same concept with a grid. If you know how to use Excel, stick with Excel. It’s the world’s best office productivity tool, and that’s why we integrate it for your input/output. That’s been Vena’s use case in a nutshell.
My priorities are to support the business and our return to growth. Thus, in a growth-based business, I’ll be looking at where our resources are and prioritizing them appropriately.
Vena Solutions | www.venasolutions.com | Toronto, ON