How a CFO and HR Director Collaboratively Grew Their Company with Zenefits

February 2, 2016


People are a business’s most valuable asset, and, in most cases, its greatest expense. Because of this, a company’s workforce falls under both the HR and finance functions. While the CFO allocates the financial resources to deliver the company’s strategy, the HR director ensures the right people are in place to execute that strategy. And when these two leaders are in step, great things can happen: Research indicates that companies with collaborative CFOs and HR directors report higher levels of growth, employee engagement, and productivity.

Identifying the Barriers to Growth

Cloud-based IT startup BetterCloud is one company that has a highly collaborative CFO and HR director. Why isn’t this relationship the norm? Well, as much as analytics are bridging the two roles now, administration used to divide them. Bart Hacking, BetterCloud’s CFO, remembers administrative tasks as being obstacles to growth. When he joined in 2013, onboarding was time-consuming and error-prone—not to mention an archaic experience for new employees. “It was ludicrous to ask new hires to bring in a voided check and passport. Worse, employees without checkbooks had to make an additional trip to the bank,” recalls Bart. “Here we were, a cloud-only business, asking people for pieces of paper for us to then scan. It almost felt obnoxious to put our employees through such rigmarole.”

Emily Disston came on board as HR Director in 2015, and she’d dealt with similar administrative setbacks at her previous job. “We had to double check the paperwork, scan it, upload it, manually enter everything again into PayChex, and then still had to send the broker the paperwork. It took probably an hour per new hire.”

BetterCloud was growing fast and hiring two people a week. At the end of a month, they were losing a whole day to onboarding paperwork. And Open Enrollment was its own time-consuming ordeal. “Open enrollment was a nightmare,” remembers Emily. “I was always hounding people to complete the paperwork. There was a lot of printing, scanning, and human error. It felt very chaotic.”

Eliminating the Administrative Burden

But then BetterCloud got Zenefits, an HR administration “game changer” and crucial piece of Bart’s tech stack. By automating tasks like onboarding and payroll, Zenefits allows Bart and Emily to focus more on development and strategy. In 6 Predictions for HR in 2016, Emily writes that as a result of this shift, BetterCloud now expects “higher, more strategic output from HR.”

“Now, once I enter the offer letter, that’s it,” explains Emily. “Everything is integrated, automated and accessible in one place.” New hires are automatically populated in the org chart and set up in all the HR systems—benefits, payroll, PTO, and more. Emily feels confident knowing all her people are properly enrolled as the company grows, and BetterCloud’s employees, having finished their onboarding before their first day, can hit the ground running.

“I onboarded 5 people this week,” adds Bart. “In the old model, we’d have to do it all in person, with one person spending at least half a day to key it in.”

“Tech-savvy people expect as a baseline to be able to look at their benefits at 1AM. It’s overwhelmingly positive that people can finish their paperwork before they walk in the door.”

Better Growth Through Collaboration

Rather than reporting on past events, high-performing CFOs and HR directors have a proactive mindset. They work closely with cross-functional teams to consider opportunities and propose solutions.

Emily now oversees onboarding through a succinct snapshot. She can focus her time on developing employees—rather than hounding them for paperwork. Where Emily’s calendar used to be filled with tedious process, it’s now flush with exciting progress: finding and recognizing top talent, creating a feedback program, and being available for 1:1s.

“I love how Zenefits is so easy to use. I’ve never needed in-depth training,” says Emily. When managers have questions, she easily pulls up-to-date reports or directs them to their Zenefits dashboard. Employees are amazed at the simplicity, and actually enjoy using Zenefits–a priceless benefit. “It’s like a luxury they’ve gotten used to,” says Emily. “When something’s working, you can take it for granted, but I certainly don’t!”

“Emily’s role is employee engagement and growth, not processing and admin. We shouldn’t need that in this day and age—it’s a benefit of Zenefits,” says Bart. “ You guys have an amazing product, and the results speak for themselves.”

We could say the same for BetterCloud. The company has grown by 67% since getting Zenefits. As of this writing, BetterCloud has fans in 50,000 IT admins and 30 million users (including us).



Jeremy "Sprout" Brautman is a writer, problem solver, and big fan of growth. When he's not trying to solve problems to help small businesses grow, he can be found developing amenities to increase occupancy at his urban Ladybug Hotel.

Category: Small Business Success Stories

You might also like