Slack on automating its accounting and revenue operations

Headquartered in San Francisco and part of the Salesforce family, Slack is a place where work flows between people, systems, partners, and customers to drive business forward. By bringing people together to work as unified teams, Slack is transforming how organisations like Spotify, Target, and Verizon collaborate.

We spoke with Jonathan Gan, head of revenue accounting at Slack, about building an optimal self-service experience, creating a more streamlined purchase process, and how Stripe has reduced friction across the company.

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What attracted you to Slack?

A combination of loving Slack as a product and wanting to work with extremely talented people. Prior to joining Slack almost seven years ago, much of my professional experience had been with larger, more established companies. I thought my background could do well at a growing company where I could build revenue operations from the ground up.

Are there any unique ways in which the Slack accounting team uses Slack?

We use Workflow Builder, a set of visual tools with Slack that automate routine processes, such as approving time off requests or soliciting feedback from teammates. No coding is required and teams can customise a workflow to reduce repetitive tasks, receive responses faster, and gather approvals with less effort. This automates a lot of internal tasks, from issuing credit memos to handling accounting queries from departments or customers. It saves us a lot of time to focus on deep work.

Slack is also a great documentation tool, especially when you have to submit accounting entries or keep close records for auditing purposes. It's easy to search across channels and everything is kept in one place versus trying to sift through emails. Slack has made it a lot easier to track and house all of this important information in a way that is streamlined and accessible.

How has Slack’s growth affected the revenue and operations team in recent years?

We’ve grown exponentially and it has not always been easy to increase available resources right away. We’ve had to find creative ways to be more productive and to automate our team to be more efficient. Stripe enables this efficiency by letting Slack customers easily switch between monthly and yearly plans, or payment methods such as credit cards, or invoices to be paid at a later date via customers’ procurement systems. Options like these used to bog our team down, requiring a lot of manual backend work to address. Now that it’s automated on Stripe, our team has the hours to focus on more important projects.

How critical is the payments experience to Slack?

Very important. Stripe helps us provide a self-service experience, meaning customers can go to our website and purchase Slack services without needing a lot of backend logistics. As I mentioned, before Stripe, our self-service work was incredibly manual. If a customer needed anything changed, like switching from a monthly to an annual plan or changing products, the accounting or customer experience team had to make the necessary changes on the backend. Stripe helped us cut that down by 20%, across different departments, such as Customer Experience (CE) and Revenue Accounting. Since Stripe allows many of the commonly requested changes to be effective immediately, it reduces back and forth communication with the CE agent, thus improving customer satisfaction.

The other time-saving area is collection. Stripe automates dunning messages to remind customers to pay and ensure that payment is applied to the correct invoices.

How has Stripe helped Slack’s accounting and revenue operations?

My team has to account for millions of transactions and Stripe is our essential source of truth that keeps everything glued together. Stripe keeps the trains moving behind the scenes, especially for our self-service model that operates at global scale. Historically, self-service models can be labour-intensive because of their high volume of transactions, all of which require their own sets of checks and recordkeeping.

Second, the number of transactions that Stripe helps facilitate is massive. Stripe accepts all types of credit card payments and then facilitates bank transfers for all of these transactions. Stripe has helped Slack scale its platform by freeing up time spent collecting and processing all of these transactions.

The same goes for fraud protection. Without Stripe’s robust fraud prevention technology with Radar, our team would be overwhelmed by constantly monitoring and tracking our customers’ accounts.

Are there other ways Stripe has automated processes for Slack?

Stripe has helped automate transaction reversals, so no one has to manually go in and look for a past transaction and undo it. It’s not as simple as “just undoing” it, either. There’s a lot of data that corresponds to the transaction that you have to preserve and transition with the reversal. Before Stripe, manually processing a reversal used to be common practice. Anytime you needed to change something, there was a precarious cascade of effects bundled with it that was prone to bugs, and had other unintended consequences that would impact other parts of our system. Now, Stripe helps us automate a lot of this, making us more flexible as an organisation.

During the checkout flow, Slack allows customers to choose whether they want to pay with a credit card or be invoiced and pay later. It’s nice to provide flexible payment options for a variety of customers’ needs. Stripe Invoicing makes it simple to offer customers the option to receive an invoice, and for Slack to track whether or not it's been received or paid for in a centralised, seamless way.

Where do you see Slack’s partnership with Stripe evolving in the future?

There are opportunities to add additional payment methods and offer more products in our self-service catalogue. Slack will continue to explore making it easy for customers to pay for and use our product, removing another barrier for prospective users.

In short, we want to give our customers even more flexibility. For example, there might be new payment methods customers prefer, such as instantaneous money transfers rather than a net-30 invoice. Stripe can help us navigate and implement some of these changes based on changing customer payment behaviour.

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