The evolution and rise of fintech has made finance operations and automation a necessity for businesses looking to remain competitive. The ability to seamlessly track transactions and manage finances using real-time data and information has become essential. Doing so requires building a reliable, flexible tech stack that drives—rather than constraints—business acceleration and growth. As the past two years have shown, it must also allow a distributed finance team to remain fully functional, regardless of when or where team members are working.
While building the best finance tech stack is table stakes for most businesses today, it has also become an increasingly complex task. For example, selecting which providers to work with from a nearly limitless ecosystem requires a deep understanding of a company’s financial and operational needs. By choosing finance automation tools that complement and strengthen each other, a business can save both time and money to optimize for success.
That said, too many businesses still rely on unintegrated, error-prone and labor-intensive spreadsheets as the backbone of the finance department, meaning simple repetitive tasks like closing the books still suck up an inordinate amount of labor and focus. For companies with finance departments that haven’t yet gone through a digital transformation, building a finance tech stack can feel overwhelming.
Understanding the tools that go into a typical finance tech stack is an important step toward integrating finance and operations, improving the ROI of your finance team, and leveraging the data available to you. Read on to learn about how best-in-class tools can improve your company’s finances and learn how to choose the best tools for your business.
While the tools in any specific organization’s tech stack will vary, depending on its specific needs and financial management strategies, the classic finance tech stack includes at least one product in each of the following categories:
The best accounting software for a business may change over time, as companies grow and their needs change. At a minimum, however, cloud-based accounting and ERP products must store data and allow for bookkeeping for all financial transactions and facilitate collaboration between departments. Depending on the business, it may also include supply chain and inventory management solutions.
Examples: NetSuite, Intuit QuickBooks, Sage Intaact, Xero
Choosing which bank to use to deposit and manage money is one of the first decisions that small businesses make. Choosing the best business bank requires thinking of the specific business needs of a company, both now and in the future.
Examples: Novo, SVB
Companies now have more ways than ever to receive payment for goods or services. Given the ongoing evolution in this space, it’s important to choose an accounts receivable platform that can accept multiple types of payments, whether they’re coming through credit cards or peer-to-peer payment apps. In addition to receiving payments, accounts receivable products should offer receivable management as well.
Examples: Stripe, BlackLine
The focus of forward-thinking finance teams has evolved in recent years from an emphasis on transactions to focusing on strategy. Given that shift, the better the data a company has, the better it will be at budgeting, planning, and forecasting future spend. FP&A software should allow a business to easily manipulate data for analysis in order to gain insights that can drive strategic decisions.
Examples: Mosaic, Abacum, Causal
Payroll is one of the largest operational costs that most companies have, so it’s important to have strong software that makes it easy to onboard, support, and pay your employees. Look for products that also make it easy to integrate benefits so that employees can access all their financial information and records in one place. A strong benefits experience via a user-friendly interface can also become a differentiator in a competitive employment market.
Examples: Rippling, ADP
While there are many tools that facilitate purchases, best-in-class software in this category can help a business save money by serving as a resource for vendor negotiations. Customizable workflows that allow organizations to continuously monitor vendor performance can make these tools more powerful.
Examples: Coupa, Blissfully, Ramp
Optimizing capital, the lifeblood of a company, is one of the most important tasks that falls to the finance team. The best tools for this make it easy for companies to not only structure stock issues but also to create liquidity for investors while reducing fees. They can also put an appropriate treasury policy in place, if necessary.
Examples: Melio, Clearco
Controlling employee spend and managing reimbursements can be a pain point and an efficiency drag for organizations without modern systems to do so. While this may have taken a backseat over the past year as the pandemic put business travel on the back burner, forecasts show that business travel could fully recover by 2024. The best solutions allow for real-time data access and use artificial intelligence to surface expenses, such as duplicate or obsolete subscriptions, that might require closer scrutiny. They also integrate with managed travel systems to streamline the booking process.
Examples: Fyle, SAP Concur, Ramp
As companies grow, managing payables becomes more complex and requires additional resources, but it remains a key part of building business credit. Look for accounts payable tools that offer solutions that streamline this as much as possible, allowing multiple payment methods, including ACH, check, and wire payments. Just as important: the ability to quickly create reports and reconcile transactions as necessary.
Examples: bill.com, Avidxchange, Ramp
Tightly tied into expense management systems, best-in-class corporate cards automate expense reconciliation and prevent out-of-policy spend or card sharing before it happens. While some organizations might turn to traditional business credit cards, it can also make sense to consider other options, such as a fintech card and spend-management cards. Businesses can use these cards to empower employees to make purchases quickly and efficiently, but with guardrails in place to minimize mistakes.
Examples: Chase, American Express, Ramp
To make the most of a tech stack that can include up to a dozen different tools offered by as many providers, it can be helpful to have a dedicated team focused on selecting the best tools and managing their integration to generate real visibility and reduce manual work. Streamlining the process is the best way for companies to optimize their tech stack to save both time and money.
Modern FinOps is the ideal function at most companies to take on this task. Organizations that attempt to manage their tech stack on an ad hoc basis are incurring technical debt and making themselves vulnerable to issues like operations creep.
FinOps can also serve as an ambassador for the new tech, introducing it to other functions within a company, and selling them on the benefits. Such collaboration between finances and other departments can ultimately serve as a competitive advantage for a company, creating a more efficient and nimbler organization.
After screening for basics like security and compliance, choosing the best finance tools for your company requires thinking first about the finance team's overall goals and the best route for achieving them. Your FinOps team could help you think through questions to determine which tools are best for your business needs, such as:
Tools like Ramp, which seamlessly integrates into the rest of the tech stack and provides real-time alerts can streamline the efficiency of the entire organization. Ramp allows organizations to put parameters on cardholder spending to limit the amount or types of expenses. Its software enables the finance department to manage thousands of cards at once with real-time visibility into how employees are using them and pays 1.5% cash back across the board. Such features have led to a 15x increase in cardholder growth year-over-year.
Contact us today to learn more about how Ramp’s charge cards or other services, such as bill payments or accounting, can take your financial tech stack to the next level.