December 17, 2021
Insights

How finance teams can become better cross-functional partners in 2022

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No matter the size of your business, learning how to work cross-functionally is essential to having success. Whether you’re a 3-person team or a mid-market business with hundreds of employees, maximizing and optimizing your working relationships with other teams can make a significant impact. 


This is especially true if you’re a finance leader responsible for determining how resources get allocated across your organization to drive growth.  

A new era of cross-collaboration

It’s hard to overstate how crucial it is for finance leaders to work collaboratively across their organizations. But one could argue that no period taught them more about how essential this alignment is than 2020-2021. Bringing unprecedented changes and challenges, these past two years emphasized how necessary it is to strategize, plan, and collaborate across your organization in order to drive steady growth and foster a culture of trust and transparency. 

In a way, the acceptance of cross-collaboration as an essential work strategy was a necessary evolution. Siloed work can be inevitable at times, but leaning on it as a mark of company culture can have negative effects. When companies develop a ‘heads down at all times’ culture, it can be virtually impossible for finance leaders or teams to know what others are working on.


Keeping teams privy to what others are working on keeps everyone in the loop and fosters collaboration and can inspire creative thinking and innovative solutions. In short, when individuals work together as a team, regardless of their department or roles, it opens up avenues for transparency and support. 


The role of Finance teams within the scope of company growth

But when it comes to Finance teams, the importance of cross-collaborative work increases tenfold. These teams, in a lot of ways, are the current that keeps businesses alive, so it’s important for them to lean heavily into departments to figure out the best ways to help with ongoing projects or goals.

When Finance team leaders purposefully structure finance teams for collaboration, departments across the organization can reliably glean guidance and insight from the unique perspectives they have into the business.  This is because, arguably, the Finance team knows the most granular ins-and-outs of the business.

Whether it's forecasting, payroll, or any other accounting-related task, Finance teams are in the unique position of having a perspective into the present and future needs of the business. So as a finance lead, take a step back and think about all of the ways you can lean on this insight to support other teams in your organization.

Can you help the Marketing leads develop a big-picture narrative surrounding company growth? Can you work cross-collaboratively with Sales leads to ensure that they’re hitting their goals? Or can you work with your IT or Infrastructure leads to ensure that they're set up for success with their SaaS contracts? There are a multitude of ways to play a pivotal part in the growth of your company as a finance lead, but establishing those lines of communication and trust are imperative.


How to support your cross-functional leaders in 2022

So when it comes to working cross-functionally and collaboratively here at Ramp, our finance team was intentional about creating open, transparent and mutually beneficial relationships with team leads early on. 


Whether it’s Sales, Marketing, or People Operations, they've learned how to leverage their insights to be a source of truth into the state of the industry, our business and our customers.

So with 2021 coming to a close, we thought we'd share some insights on how Finance teams can partner with their organizations in the new year. We asked our own department leads: What have you learned while working with our Finance team? What would you change about the relationship? And how do you envision building on the relationship going into 2022? Here are their responses: 

Ashley Stepien: Vice President of Marketing


How do you currently liaise with the Finance team at Ramp? 


I work with our Finance team to plan for the period ahead, analyze current performance and strategize for improvement in the future. The team is intimate with our business goals and operations so they truly serve as a partner in achieving our mission as a marketing department.


How has your relationship with the Finance team grown over the last year? 


There has been more emphasis on the "partnership" piece. Previously we worked department to department to get things done but once the Finance team gave us a dedicated partner, the relationship became more strategic and less tactical. Now we speak the same language in assessing the health of the business.


What are some areas where you feel like you could work better with the Finance team? 


We could always benefit from being more future-looking. Sometimes we get caught up in what happened or what is happening. So we're working to get to a place where we can predict our future performance better.


Ancy Joseph: Head of Sales + Account Management


How do you currently liaise with the Finance team at Ramp?


I work with our Finance team for a myriad of ways: setting quotas, reviewing long-term goals, reviewing headcount, approval on prospect/client promotions, compensation changes, etc. They are a trusted partner in our strategic decisions and I rely on them to help us reach our growth goals.


How has your relationship with the Finance team grown over the last year?


The relationship with Finance is unique here at Ramp. In the past, I’ve worked with Finance as a typical last step of the approvals/inform process. At Ramp, it feels like more of a partnership where I rely on the Finance team’s advice and guidance as we create the foundation for sales.


What are some areas where you feel like you could work better with the Finance team?


Given our growth at Ramp, it sometimes feels like we are running 100 miles an hour and it lends itself to be reactive. I can’t wait for our sales foundation to solidify in the next few quarters and for us to work through proactive initiatives.


In 2022, how do you envision collaborating with the Finance team, especially as it relates to resources? 


I will be leaning on our Finance partners heavily as we build out this sales team so we can understand headcount needs, budgeting for incentives/compensation, and really any other initiatives aimed at accelerating our growth. They have and will continue to be an integral part of our sales growth.


Lewis Drummond: Head of Infrastructure & DevOps


How do you currently liaise with the Finance team at Ramp?


I usually work with them on ACH invoices.


How has your relationship with the Finance team grown over the last year?


The number of SaaS vendors requiring ACH payments has increased. So contracts are often being renegotiated as we scale. I usually answer questions from the Finance team about cadence and predicted spend related to vendors.


What are some areas where you feel like you could work better with the Finance team?


I should likely be working more closely with the Finance team to improve vendor invoicing.


In 2022, how do you envision collaborating with the Finance team, especially as it relates to resources?


I envision working with the Finance team to have a better understanding of payment timelines so I can update vendors accordingly. 


Jacob Wallenberg: People Ops


How do you currently liaise with the Finance team at Ramp?


The People team works closely with the Finance team on several large questions throughout the year. Payroll is a significant share of our budget, which means that the plans we have to grow our headcount has a significant impact on our spending. Once the overall plan is set we also collaborate on questions around compensation, any policy with a cost associated with it, and other smaller items.


How has your relationship with the Finance team grown over the last year?


Both the Finance and People teams have had to increase their scope significantly to keep up with the growth of the company at large. We’ve worked together to design new processes and ways of working together to serve these new needs, while staying nimble and fast. It’s been great to have a reliable partner as we’ve addressed more complex issues that affect more and more people, as the year has gone by.


What are some areas where you feel like you could work better with the Finance team?


I wish I had a better sense of where we’ll be a few months from now! They’ve been very understanding of the challenges in predicting the future in our world, and has worked with us to figure out how we can remain as flexible as possible.


In 2022, how do you envision collaborating with the Finance team, especially as it relates to resources?


I suspect we will both try to get more precise in our predictions. Some of our collaborations to date have relied on rough estimates, which I think both of our teams will work to refine in 2022 and beyond. I also believe we’ll find more places where a close collaboration between our two teams will lead to stronger answers, by drawing on each team’s unique strengths.


Megan Yen: Head of Business Operations


How do you currently liaise with the Finance team at Ramp?


I work very closely with the financial planning and analysis team, in particular our Strategic Finance Team in terms of everything related to revenue planning and go-to-market. Through collaboration, we think through what our quarterly and annual go-to-market goals should be across the top and bottom of the funnel.


We also work together to measure customer acquisition costs to analyze how effective we’re being in terms of spending our money on ads, resources and software.


In many ways, the Finance team and I have similar skill sets in terms of how we want to tackle pricing and packaging and how we think about unit economics and other aspects that are core to the business. I like to think of us as thought partners, specifically in go-to-market strategy but also broader company unit economics as well. 


How has your relationship with the Finance team grown over the last year?


Overall, I think it’s become a much stronger working relationship. I’ve come to partner a lot more closely with our Strategic Finance Lead on our modeling. Up until recently, modeling was done by the BizOps team, so there was a transition of some work over to Finance and they helped flesh out a bit further.


What are some areas where you feel like you could work better with the Finance team?


I think I could bring our Strategic Finance Lead more into the loop in terms of go-to-market strategy, which may help answer some questions earlier. 


For example let’s say we wanted to shift our strategy to target certain industries or do more ads to push into the SMB world. If our lead knew about that beforehand, it would prevent future questions or lack of clarity. In essence, keeping them in the loop more would help prevent Finance from being an after-the-fact questioner of what happened. 


In 2022, how do you envision collaborating with the Finance team, especially as it relates to resources?


On the go-to-market side it comes down to goals, strategy and structure of our teams and what each resource can do. So I’ll be working a lot with our Strategic Finance Lead to figure out what our go-to-market headcount should look like. Eventually though, this process will involve Sales, so there will be more people to help build out what those assumptions are. 


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Luis Gonzalez
Content Marketing Manager

As a Content Marketing Manager, Luis tackles content planning and ideation while constantly brewing over SEO opportunities. Before Ramp, he worked on content for Audible and WeWork.

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