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How Framework Homeownership improved its financial operations with Airbase.

Framework Homeownership is a mission-driven company and provides the information and unbiased advice that prospective homebuyers need to make smart and successful decisions.
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Industry
Consumer Services
Size
50-60 employees
Accounting/ERP Software
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Takeaways

1. Streamlined operations, cut time-to-close by 50%, and saved money.

2. Got better transparency into what was being spent.

3. A single source of information for all company spend.

Erika Wennerstrom, COO/CFO at Framework Homeownership

The story of Framework Homeownership is a decidedly modern one. As a profitable LLC, owned by two non-profit organizations, it’s conservative with respect to managing budgets and deeply committed to vigilant stewardship of company capital. Erika Wennestrom is the company’s first finance hire and serves as both its CFO and COO. She arrived with plenty of experience, having built the finance infrastructure at three other companies. It’s no surprise, therefore, that Erika turned to Airbase to secure visibility and control over company-wide spending as one of her first improvements in the organization.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about making good decisions strategically and finding ways to translate those decisions into action. The right tools on the ground, the right processes, and the right people.”

A drive toward automation and a need for transparency.

When taking on the challenge of building financial infrastructure, Erika begins by creating a cash model to get to know the company. In particular, it helps her understand what drives cash both in and out of the organization.

“I’ve noticed the benefits by keeping an eye on cash. I look for trends and the magnitude of spend. By using Airbase, everything is literally in one place.”

She also takes stock of the processes and evaluates which ones can be improved with automation. 

“When something is a rote process, not a thinking process, it’s ripe for automating. It’s better to have someone overseeing a tool than doing manual work.” 

Erika was attracted to Airbase’s automated approval workflows even though Framework had a detailed approval process for spend already in place. It was the transparency that Airbase gives to everyone in the company, along with shifting ownership of the budget to those who need to make the purchases, that represented an important improvement. This transparency translates into the tools that help tell the story behind the financials.

“Airbase allows us to put the numbers into context, to understand what is driving success and what is creating challenges for the organization.”

Framework has an explicit goal of shortening its time-to-close, and Airbase is an important tool to achieve that goal. Eventually, Framework wishes to move to a continuous close, something that Airbase does with its continuous accounting for all non-payroll spend. The company outsources its accounting and that firm has already noticed about a 50% shorter time-to-close with Airbase in place. 

“With Airbase, my ability to keep an eye on cash and find answers to questions about where we are with spending has been phenomenal.”

Onboarding and its unanticipated benefits.

Erika found that the onboarding process conformed to her expectations. And, it had some welcome side benefits in that it gave Erika and her team time to vet and better understand each of their vendors, and the terms of their relationship with them. She even took the time to switch vendors from ACH payments to Airbase cards to earn additional cashback. 

“Airbase has allowed us to take control of our subscriptions. Airbase gives us tools to control the license cost and the ability to shut down credit cards if necessary, all in one place.”

As part of her evaluation, Erika assessed the quantifiable benefits of Airbase, including the additional cashback and savings from no longer paying for existing point solutions like Bill.com. On top of these benefits, she stacked the positive impact on the business. 

  • “It allows us to put cash back to use.
  • It gives us better visibility into the organization.
  • It streamlines the number of tools used. 
  • It provides one source of truth for viewing data on all spend.” 

As far as the rest of the company is concerned, there has been a rapid embracing of using Airbase for spending company money.

“We wanted to streamline the process using virtual cards, which Airbase allows us to do more efficiently. Our team quickly got acclimated to the Airbase system, and we are now on the path to streamlining our entire spending.”

Building an effective finance operation.

Erika describes her team as “tech-forward” and always open to finding new, better ways to do things. They have noticed that while there are a lot of choices to configure Airbase for their specific needs, the Airbase customer service team has provided the support they need to make the right decisions. The process has also been helped by the fact that Airbase design is “so intuitive to use.” The team is realistic about the work involved in making changes in the organization’s finance processes but operates in tight formation to do so. They are dedicated to always improving productivity with automation. 

“That’s what resource allocation in finance is about — how we get the highest yield of the people we already have employed.”


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