[Success Story] How this One-Person FP&A Team Helped Secure Another $131M in Funding for Novo


When I saw the Cube demo...I was just going nuts. It’s everything I was hoping for.

When Florian, Novo’s Head of Finance, contacted Cube, he had an ambitious goal: financial planning for explosive growth.

“I want to do quarterly rolling forecasts with every department,” Florian said. “However,” he said with a big, wry smile, “It’s a lot of spreadsheets.”

But with another round of funding on the horizon, Florian didn’t have the luxury of wading through several disconnected spreadsheets. “I’ve had to do everything by hand,” he said. “I’m looking to shave time off of the FP&A process.”

This is how Florian used Cube to expedite Novo’s colossal growth.

Benefits

  • Hours of saved work means more time for strategy
  • Better control and preparedness to scale the finance team
  • More confidence in the data means more trust in the FP&A team

Challenge

Novo's three biggest hurdles to world-class FP&A and explosive growth were:

  1. Lack of time for strategic FP&A work,
  2. Difficulties consolidating data across departments, and
  3. Updating data from different sources across models

Let's look at each.

Too Much Manual Work, Not Enough Time for Strategy

Traditional FP&A work can be tedious—the average FP&A analyst spends 75%+ of their time preparing data.

Download. Extract. Analyze. Cleanse. Check. Consolidate. Split. Organize. Validate.

That leaves less than 25% of analyst time for strategic work. In a world with so much automation, FP&A remains highly manual, time-consuming, and error-prone.

Traditional FP&A software also requires several months (to a year!) of setup. It's not uncommon to sign in January, wait until Halloween to onboard, and learn that nobody except the Finance team uses the software.

...and that’s before worrying about the onboarding process bloat as the FP&A team scales.

Florian couldn’t take that gamble. Novo needed a faster, more agile solution.

Gathering Data for Budgeting & Forecasting was a Headache

To get the information to build factual forecasts and models, Florian had to request data from Novo's managers.

With Google Sheets, this seems easy. Florian could create a single sheet and ask managers to fill in their data. But “managers only have access to their department’s information,” Florian said. “So I have to ensure the user permissions are correct.”

With Excel or Google Sheets, the best solution would be to create separate files. But Excel files needed to be passed around, downloaded, edited, uploaded, and sent back. Google Sheets can talk to each other, but, as Florian admits, “linking Google Sheets together is a pain. So I usually don’t do that."

Florian wanted a tool that would let him set view-based permissions for users and simplify his workflow on the backend. “This would be a big time-saver for me,” he said.

Too Many Data Sources, Too Many Inaccuracies

All FP&A teams want granular, driver-based forecasting models.

But since these operational drivers come from disparate sources, maintaining them is tricky.

...especially when you have to update multiple files whenever the data changes.

As with any manual process, mistakes happen—and they’re usually not found until the end, when the analyst checks if the numbers make sense.

Solution

"We're a rapidly growing company, so we value the flexibility spreadsheets provide," Florian said. "Other platforms required us to move onto new systems. When we learned that Cube worked with our existing tech stack, we decided it was the one."

Cube was able to solve each of Florian’s problems. Here’s how:

Automated Reports Eliminate Manual Data Chores

Novo has a few ways to push data to Cube: API connections, flat file uploads, and publishing from the spreadsheet.

Likewise, Novo can pull data directly from Cube. Fetch Multiple—the function that pulls data into multiple ranges on multiple sheets in a single click—makes Florian more agile. He can now easily build out and refresh his growing library of reports and analyses.

Moreover, Florian can also validate his data before and after he pulls it. Functionally, this means switching to Cube has automated his reporting process.

“Cube has greatly reduced the potential for errors in our calculations,” Florian said. Since Cube acts as a single source of truth, Florian no longer needs to spend the majority of his time on data maintenance.

Robust File-Level Permissions Simplify Data Gathering

Cube’s robust view and publish permissions facilitate data gathering from other departments.

Now Florian only needs to set the read/write permissions for one file.

Even better, since Cube works as an intermediary between Google Sheets and Excel, Florian can work in his favored environment—Excel—and let his team operate in Google Sheets.

Cube’s Single Source of Truth Makes for Up-to-Date Models

Florian had several driver-based models he used for his quarterly financial forecasts. But keeping them updated was a problem.

But Cube acts as a single source of truth, so Florian only has to update his data in one place.

For example, any update in Quickbooks gets pushed downstream, through Cube and into his spreadsheets. "No more copy/pasting our financials from spreadsheet to spreadsheet," Florian said. "Cube does it for us."

Results

Implementation took 3 days. A year later, Florian still uses Cube every week.

Here’s what his new reality looks like:

Florian Can do Deeper Analysis Thanks to Cube’s Quick Time to Value

Florian can perform more intense financial analyses since Cube liberates his time. He can achieve better insights, trust his results, and make better resource recommendations to support Novo’s high-velocity growth.

Part of this is because Cube scales as Novo grows. "Since Florian came to Cube to solve his initial pain points, we've been able to unlock even more time savings,” says Marc, Cube’s Head of Customer Success.

In other words, Cube became more useful for Florian as Novo grew.

Florian Saved Time & Energy on Hiring

“If we didn’t have Cube, I would have had to hire someone a quarter ago,” Florian told Christina Ross, Cube’s CEO and Co-Founder.

It’s a bit of an open secret that good FP&A talent is hard to find—most FP&A analysts come from an adjacent background (e.g., finance, accounting, or banking) and get on-the-job training.

While searching for, vetting, and training a new hire is normally a big investment, it’s even more expensive for FP&A. Before Cube, Florian might have needed to devote time (that he didn’t have) to the talent search. Instead, he's been able to keep his headcount static.

A year after signing with Cube, Florian is now ready to grow his finance team to support the more detailed reporting that Novo's growth will soon require.

Florian Can Easily Tell the Story of the Business

Florian’s operational metrics were difficult to track before Cube. But now, because Cube constantly updates his data across spreadsheets, he has a more complete view of Novo’s financials.

Cube also empowers Florian to achieve the ultimate goal of FP&A: telling the story of the past and writing the story of the future. The level of organization and elasticity Florian gets from a “Cubified” process means he can easily tell a compelling story to Novo’s investors and instantly surface the numbers to support him.

Conclusion

In part thanks to Florian’s FP&A work, Novo secured another $41M in funding and tripled their customer base in the space of 6 months. Just six months later, they doubled that and raised $90M

“Since starting with Cube, we’ve been able to save hours each month and no longer require additional headcount to keep up,” Florian said.

Florian is looking forward to scaling his finance team to support Novo's continued growth and expansion in 2022 (hiring in Miami & NY). Florian is also excited to continue providing feedback on the product to help Cube build better tools for other FP&A professionals on the same journey.