5 ways to hyper-scale operations through finance transformation

Katherine Parker

Katherine Parker

Marketing Coordinator

While investing in digital transformation isn’t the instinctual next step for most, many successful companies like Uber have emerged stronger from rough economic cycles.

April 18, 2023

min read

5 ways to hyper-scale operations through finance transformation

According to a recent McKinsey Global survey, companies seeing the highest financial returns from AI continue to pull ahead of competitors. With an ever changing economic environment, finance leaders implementing digital transformation are necessary in order to outperform competitors and outlast the current volatile market. With almost two-thirds of economists expecting a global recession and GDP forecast cuts in 2023, it has never been more important for finance leaders to navigate this newfound terrain with caution and strategic tools. 

While investing in digital transformation isn’t the instinctual next step for most, many successful companies like Uber have emerged stronger from rough economic cycles.

Uber was founded in 2009 during the economic crash and has risen past unicorn startup status with 122 million monthly active subscribers and close to 30,000 employees worldwide. The ride-sharing platform has expanded its products and hyper-scaled through technology with continuous operational finesse.’s Senior Director of Partnerships, Alexandra August recently hosted a virtual discussion with Senior Director of Finance at Uber, Mark Arrigotti who leads a team of close to 300 people  who focus on procure to pay, order to cash, travel & expense, and analytics. Hear Mark discuss his finance career journey and share successful strategies he’s implemented while managing a global finance team for the last 7.5 years.

Align on the objective 

In order to utilize new technologies to their full potential, leaders must use finance transformation as a catalyst for growth, not only to scale your organization but to inspire your team to keep an open mind to what the next evolution of your organization can be. Departments that are not aligned on their end goals and don’t equally understand their impact can leave your teams unwilling to buy in, which can make it difficult to continue to implement change. 

For example, procurement and accounting departments inherently work together, however the end goal for the procurement process is making and negotiating purchases while accounting balances the checkbook and tracks spend. Despite the differences, the processes are interconnected and both need to be optimized to drive ROI. In order to hyper-scale, leaders must identify what the opportunities are for the end to end process, where the value lies, and what the potential benefits are for the teams involved. Once everyone is aligned on what the objective of the transformation is, with a clear understanding of its potential impact, both teams can buy in and your organization can reach consensus. Transparency is crucial in order to progress and keep a competitive advantage.

“I think it's the mindset of never standing for the status quo. I think we're always challenged and welcome to challenge the status quo and look beyond the current state. Something I try to breed within my teams is to continue to challenge the status quo and never be satisfied. This idea of always trying to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. So continue to rise above and look for what could be next. “ - Mark Arrigotti, Senior Director of Finance, Uber

Upscale your team 

Finance transformation creates new opportunities that can help your team grow their careers to reach their personal aspirations. Incorporating new technology can free your team from manual tasks and in turn, open doors for them to elevate within the company. Enable your team to pivot into program management and project management when implementing new AI automation technologies. Roles with higher competencies allow your staff to oversee and lead these digital programs and monitor them when they’re completed. 

Let your team be a part of the change by working cross-departmentally with other teams. It's important to note that your team would like to feel like they’re a part of the process instead of being told what the changes are with no communication. Find ambassadors within your organization to lead the charge and encourage them to become experts, learning the technology from beginning to end.

For example, when implementing a software to process invoices, your team must develop the requirements, meet all compliance and tax requirements, and then complete onboarding before the adoption itself. There's not a switch to go from manual to automated, it's a journey. The AP team can take that portfolio of work and build program management around it in order to drive change across the board. The team goes from processors to managers and reviewers with more accurate invoice processing. Not to mention they get to see the results of their impact. 

Top 5 Tips to successfully lead change through finance transformation


1. Establish what problem you are trying to solve. 

Scope the change to evaluate its impact and articulate that using data to encourage buy in. Don’t just make change for the sake of change. Show and share the impact, and express how it will benefit the company and job functions. Open a dialogue where you can discuss as a team on the overarching objective and determine what needle will move by implementing a new system. Establish KPIs for what that change can do for everyone involved and do the prep work to prove the concept before launching those changes. 

2. Build a business case 

To get buy-in from stakeholders and other leadership within your organization, build a business case that effectively articulates ROI. Start with the current state of the company and recommend the potential future state, the impact, and the value that the ROI can bring to the organization. Be a leader for change! People are averse to change so if you are a leader for change and that's part of your charter, there will inherently be more buy in. 

3. Communicate with stakeholders throughout the journey

It's important to keep peers and stakeholders in the loop when moving from a tactical to transformation organization. Everyone should have knowledge into what is being implemented, the value it will bring to the organization, and how these changes will affect other teams. Many people are averse to change, and don't like surprises, so it's crucial to provide updates and information about how the change is progressing. Offer training, pilots, and office hours while leading up to the change and build in those processes. 

4. Look at the big picture

While it can be tempting, don’t lose sight of long-term goals by implementing short-term solutions, and instead, focus efforts on creating a crucial edge over competitors. Cost efficiency is key, so after reviewing the company’s financial position, make sure you have the necessary tools to reach your operational goals. Be cautious of technologies that advertise a one-stop shop to solve all of your needs with RPA, automation, or AI buzzwords. Collaborate with your CIO to ask the right questions for appropriate due diligence.

5. Build Agility into your teams DNA

“The hardest part of the job at Uber is that we're constantly growing and expanding, whether it be geographically or product wise or different lines of business.
I think it's that balancing act. We've got a big push of activities coming from the company, and then we have our own plans and strategies that we want to execute from a domain perspective. So, taking both of those funnels, trying to make them work together, and then trying to keep them both on track while meeting everybody's expectations.
Working for a global company that’s kind of “boots on the ground” in a lot of different markets, there's a lot of change coming at us on a regular basis, so it's being able to make those trade offs and priorities, but then also being able to pivot when need be, for different priorities. 
And I think part of that challenge is making sure I can do that, but trying to get a whole department to have that DNA of being nimble and agile, and being able to keep the pace of agility with the company like ours, is probably the biggest opportunity.” Mark Arrigotti - Senior Director Finance , Uber

Accelerate Agility

Coming out of an economic downturn has proven to be the case for many companies that made the switch to digital transformation during the Covid-19 pandemic. According to a report by Randstad U.S., many companies have already experienced ROI on investments into new innovative technology endeavors, which helped them save money and improve productivity. There was a silver lining to the forced acceleration of technology: executives reported their bottom lines were positively impacted in 2020.

The economy will always go through cycles of ups and downs. Great finance leaders should be thinking about making a big impact in the highs and in the lows. You see the spend going through the company and you have the opportunity to influence it and share information. You can educate people across the company and share messaging from senior leadership in a practical way. 

64% of businesses still heavily rely on spreadsheets for fundamental finance operations like invoice approval matrixes, budgeting, and forecasting, but that won’t cut it in 2023. Finance leaders and companies need to lean into technology that will simplify workflows and ultimately drive growth while protecting profit margins. 

Time is of the essence, so don’t wait until a crisis hits to take action. 

When the going gets tough, the tough get going – this is the time to tackle the most critical issues. Stay ahead of your peers by downloading the exclusive playbook outlining the top insights for finance leaders.

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