A Q&A with Fourlane CFO Cynthia Hemingway
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to ask a few questions of Cynthia Hemingway, the Chief Financial Officer for Fourlane, one of the leading providers of QuickBooks services and consulting. Fourlane has a unique perspective on IT services, being both a provider and consumer of IT.
What are some questions the CFO of a growing company should ask their C-suite partners when deciding whether to augment their IT capacity by hiring internally or outsourcing?
Cynthia: First, “what are your staffing plans for the next 12, 15, 24 months?” Ask whether they have a budget for this staffing. Ask whether they’ve analyzed the equipment these employees will need. At Fourlane, we allocate a specific budget amount per employee for subscription services and a second amount for workstations each year. Find out whether they expect to need any novel or unusual hardware or software, because you’ll need to get support expertise in that area.
Second, ask what systems or platforms they’ll need to have upgraded or replaced in the next 1-2 years. For example, ERP and CRM applications, or maybe the website or an online store will need to be overhauled.
Third, find out whether their communications systems need anything addressed. Are they using VOIP? Is it working? If not, do they have proposals or a needs analysis you can work from?
Last, ask whether they have any legacy physical servers, or other business functions that require a physical footprint. Ask whether these servers are really still needed. At Fourlane, for example, we don’t operate with an internal network or on-premises systems. Our workforce is distributed, so we use cloud-based products and SaaS platforms.
If the business decides to hire internally, what metrics should they use to determine the point at which to make the hire?
Cynthia: The first indicator is a pre-determined number of employees that an IT service desk individual can support. Once that threshold is crossed, you should address it. Usually, you would make Tier 1 service desk hires to handle simple growth in headcount. Another indicator can be the number of service tickets compared against the time required to resolve them. If that indicator is troubling, you may need to hire a system administrator, or someone who specializes in integrating all the software being used across the company.
According to CIO.com, roughly a quarter of all businesses have IT to report to the CFO. Which officer-level position does IT fall under at Fourlane?
Cynthia: We use the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) philosophy. EOS calls for some C-level positions to have additional organizational roles such as Visionary and Integrator. For us, I am our Integrator. With that in mind, we place IT directly under the Integrator to ensure all systems and processes are distributed with our vision in mind.
About Fourlane Inc.
Based in Austin, TX with regional offices and consultants located throughout the country, Fourlane is an award winning professional services firm that provides a wide range of business services & solutions. Fourlane was founded in 2009 by Marjorie and Rob Adams and has seen strong growth since its inception. Fourlane is the #1 Intuit Premier Reseller Partner and has been awarded Intuit’s prestigious Premier Reseller / Partner of the Year every year since 2010.
Fourlane offers several services for small to medium businesses including advisory services, CFO services, bookkeeping, and financial systems consulting. Fourlane also offers expert QuickBooks oriented services including consulting, programming, integration, data conversion, training, support, and more. Over the years, Fourlane has helped over 10,000 customers with their QuickBooks software.
About Net Friends
Founded in 1997, Net Friends provides comprehensive managed IT services, cybersecurity solutions, and IT staffing services to clients in North Carolina and across the US. We are your preferred technology partners, delivering best-in-class IT solutions and tech expertise that keeps IT security front of mind. We believe in people, and we love to see our customers and community thrive through technology. We have fueled our clients’ growth for over 20 years.