Licenses, what you purchase vs what you use

You go through a procurement process and you buy licenses for the whole corporation to enable it to use the services/products linked to it.

After a while you figure out how much of these licenses you are using in reality:

  • How many people is really using it?
  • How many new joiners are accessing to it?
  • How many servers are using them?

A good asset management process linked to the original contract signed with the vendor needs to be in place, or just a person reviewing it periodically.

Well, you will not imagine how many organizations are losing money with over estimated license contracts that finally are not used.

It’s not easy to convince to an organization to invest money to analyze the gap between the signed license agreement and the real use of these licenses. To do it sometimes is like to recognize that they did not signed the right contract, so it’s like to recognize an mistake.

  • How much we can save if we re-negotiate the license agreement?
  • What is the real forecast we have with respect the use of these services?
  • Can we move to a “as a service” agreement model?

 

Stock decisions I did not take

This is a list of events and potential actions I didn’t take, and that I want to remember:

  1. Event: Trump won the USA election
    • Action not taken: Buy Goldman Sachs stock.
    • Result in 3 months: stock from 185$ to 250$.
  2. Chemours splitted from DuPont, Nelson Petz after Kraft split he invested in Mondelez.
    • Action not taken: Buy Chemours stocks.
    • Result in 1 year: stock from 8$ to 35$.

Effort to earn 7,5% is tough right now

This graph is very indicative about the huge efforts to perform earnings on financial services right now.

They seemed to be easy in 1995, but in 2005 the effort and the risk exposure is so huge.

It’s easy to understand why GE sold GE Money, and other major transformations that are happening. How is it possible that NYSE market growth and growth.

how-to-achieve-earnings-goals

Finance and portfolio management

I’m working on a set of accounts and solutions for my company, handling a portfolio at country level.

My team is composed by account managers where that handle the day to day relationship with customers, write offers, deliver services with the support of service managers, handle projects directly or with a PM…They do a lot of things, and they understand the importance of the customer touch, and all they need to do to sell.

If you have a team, you will have high potential people and average people. So you can expect that the knowledge differs in general depending of the person behind.

My point today is that I found the knowledge all these guys have about finance is so poor in general. Things like the P&L rules of the company, how the indirect costs are allocated, how are the revenue recognition rules are, how to make accruals… is basic knowledge they need to be able to understand what is happening in their accounts.

The person handling the portfolio before me did a good job organizing finances, having clear figures of pipeline, gap plans, forecast… but s/he never teach or coach the team about all the basic rules that are impacting the account managers.

This lack of understanding has derived into a lack of interest on the results or on understanding why so many of them are delivering poor operating income figures. The second derivative of the impact is the fact that they had not under control the impacts of bad delivery. They know they have problems on the contracts, but they are not able to tell me how much in dollars is the quantity of the impact.

My first step on the portfolio has been to review all the finances with them:

  • Account by account,
  • review the gap of the contracts with respect the expected gross margin, direct cost margin.
  • Understand what are the reasons of our poor operating income (this is outside of the accounts).
  • Explain what are the basic rules of the P&L, and how some behaviors affect more than others.
  • Enable actions at account level and at country level, reviewing periodically all these actions.

The results are being interesting, once this first whole review of accounts conclude, I will be able to focus on growth and sales.

Zuora, subscription model as a service

The world is moving from a product based economy to a service based economy. Some companies born in the subscription model, but others need to transform from their existing model to the subscription based model.

So, well everybody knows already that Zuora is an emerging competitor in the market, creating and end to end solution for subscription models. Take care, they do not only take care of the billing activities (there are thousand of companies dedicated to managing billing activities), they do more.

Zuora’s solution:

  • Allows any business in any industry to launch or shift products to subscription.
  • Implement new pay-as-you-go pricing and packaging models.
  • Ways to play:
    • Freemium,
    • Packages model,
    • Promotional strategies,
    • Pay as you go,
    • Overall strategy,
    • Bundling strategy,
    • Segmentation strategy.
  • Gain new insights into subscriber behavior.
  • Open new revenue streams.
  • And disrupt market segments to gain competitive advantage.
  • 100% integrated with SalesForce.

I find specially interest on the documentation shared in the Zuora academy, where aspects as the financial metrics for a subscription company are defined, measured and analyzed. I read the Metrics white paper and it’s a worthy read.

The main concepts are:

  1. Churn rate: % of lost business, 10% churn is a healthy percentage. Small changes in your company’s churn rate can have a dramatic impact on growth over time.
  2. Recurring Profit Margins: the difference between your recurring revenues and your recurring costs.
    1. Cost of Goods Sold (COGS).
    2. General & Administrative (G&A).
    3. Research and Development (R&D)
  3. Growth Efficiency Index: How much new recurring revenue can you get out of a given investment in sales and marketing? If you spend $1 on sales and marketing, how many new recurring revenue dollars does that buy you?A healthy ratio for a b2b SaaS company with a direct sales force is 1:1. Invest $1 to book $1 in new recurring revenues.

Annual-recurring-revenueTo follow the competition:

  • Strong competitors: AMDocs, CGI Group, Oracle, CSC,
  • Prominent competitors:  Aria Systems, Chargify, AWS, SAP

Things to be improved:

  • VAT management,
  • Revenue recognition,
  • Multi-currency support outside of SalesForce,
  • Integration with other vendors: Microsoft Dynamics and Oracle.

 

DuPont Finance Analysis

This way to perform financial analysis started to be done by DuPont in 1920, and it gained a lot of recognition and acceptance.

  • Profitability (measured by profit margin) = Net profit/Sales
  • Operating efficiency (measured by asset turnover) = Sales/Assets
  • Financial leverage (measured by equity multiplier) = Assets/Equity

The calculation sequence is as follows:

  • ROE = (Profit margin) * (Asset turnover) * (Equity multiplier)
  • ROE = (Net profit/Sales)*(Sales/Assets)*(Assets/Equity)
  • ROE = (Net Profit/Equity)

The breakdown is shown below:

DuPont-Analysis

 

Finance terms

Learning some basic finance terms:

Credit support Annex (CSA)

It is is a legal document which regulates credit support for derivative transactions. It is one of the four parts that make up an ISDA Master Agreement but is not mandatory. It is possible to have an ISDA agreement without a CSA but normally not a CSA without an ISDA.

Global Master Repurchase Agreement (GMRA)

It is a model legal agreement designed for parties transacting repos and is published by the International Capital Market Association (ICMA), which is the body representing the  bond and repo markets in Europe. The GMRA is the principal master agreement for cross-border repos globally, as well as for many domestic repo markets.

ISDA master agreement

It is the most commonly used master service agreement for Over-the-counter (OTC) derivative transactions internationally. It is part of a framework of documents, designed to enable OTC derivatives to be documented fully and flexibly.

Over-the-counter (OTC)

Also known as “off-exchange” trading is done directly between two parties, without any supervision of an exchange. It is contrasted with exchange trading, which occurs via exchanges. In an OTC trade, the price is not necessarily published for the public.

Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)

The OFAC is a financial intelligence and enforcement agency of the U.S. government charged with planning and execution of economic and trade sanctions in support of U.S. national security and foreign policy objectives. Very interesting the history of this institution.

Financial responsibility matrix

I’m working on a transformation project where we are replacing people from current organization by other people. The plan has been defined and agreed, after that, the question within the account team was: Who will pay it?

There are different aspects of the transformation and each business unit will have different benefits, different countries involved, so business units and countries want to avoid to pay any extra cent that is not cost related to them.

We have identified another risk: some business units do not want to transform, so keeping all cost into a central cost center will make them to stay as today.

With this scenario, we have defined a financial responsibility matrix where each phase of the KT process is going to be funded by different cost centers.

KT phases Funded by
On boarding activities to account Account
Specific KT to a BU Account
Shadowing Business unit
Reverse shadowing Business unit
Operations activities Service / Project

The first phases will be funded by the account team, they are limited sessions of theory and to take care of this cost will avoid the rejection of the “start”, in addition shows good intentions to support the individual financial goals of the BU leaders. The acceptance criteria after this phase is clear and there are not way to reject an skilled and trained resource.

The shadowing phases will be paid by the business units, we live in the past very long shadowing phases due to “unavailability of taking care of the responsibility” without a real justification. In this way, the BUs are the main organization of having the new people working in operational activities (billable); they cannot afford to have 2 people for the same role for too much time.

Account Manager agrees with the plan and he will be presenting to the team, at the end of the day the money comes from her pocket, so she is the first one interested on having a mechanism to promote savings.

Nothing is perfect, let’s see how this idea works.