Contact: Alex Wittenberg // COO
About the Client
airCFO is a professional sevices organization that manages the accounting, finance, people operations, and taxes of startups across the globe.
By building a smarter operating system we enabled easier access to data and information, streamlined communications, and transparent individual and program management. For airCFO, the 10-15 minutes saved per day per employee resulted in $6-8k per month in savings. Furthermore, airCFO now has an operating system that will support its evolution from 100 clients to 400 and 40 practitioners to 140.
airCFO - Accounting, Fractional CFO, and Tax Services for Startups
airCFO provides premiere Accounting, Fractional CFO, and Tax services for venture-backed startups in the United States.
The Client’s Problem
airCFO is a burgeoning startup with 60+ employees and 150+ clients. This FTE count is up from 4 employees a couple years ago and they have their eyes set on 100+ in the upcoming year. They are growing fast and required an organizational operating system that could scale with them. They developed an extensive Notion architecture to manage most internal operating needs. Their databases include Client Accounts, Contacts, Projects and Tasks, Resources, Meeting Notes, OKRs, and a Team Directory. While they had an established foundation in Notion, the connections across databases were confusing, the workflows were nuanced, templates were underwhelming, and adoption was low. Furthermore, most work that took place inside the databases themselves created bad data at times and deleted properties at others. They needed something to piece together the many parts they had already built.
We took a comprehensive approach to understanding airCFO's existing databases. Our team audited the existing functionality, interviewed users to understand what they were doing and what they wanted, and developed a deep understanding of the aspirational use cases. Based on this information, we designed a database architecture that could support both their current needs and future state aspirations.
We then morphed their existing system into the future state while maintaining the integrity of historical data and data in use. This was a critical step to ensure a seamless transition and uninterrupted workflow. Our efforts resulted in an underlying infrastructure that was intuitive and capable of building airCFO's desired applications at scale. By taking this comprehensive approach, we were able to build a database architecture that not only met airCFO's immediate needs but also had the flexibility to evolve with their business.
Our second activity was focused on application development, where we designed, built, and deployed core applications within airCFO's Notion workspace to manage and operate their internal operations. The core applications that airCFO wanted were:
- Company Intranet Homepage: Centralizing core information and links in a user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing way, we build airCFO’s company landing page. This is the first page everyone sees when they open up their Notion Workspace every day. It is the first page new hires are presented to understand the level of organization airCFO brings to their teams and their clients. This intranet page is every airCFO employee’s jumping point to all core areas of their workspace.
- Operating System Dashboards: We centralized department, team, and individual information into operating system dashboards. These dashboards were designed to provide quick access to essential information and facilitate communication and collaboration between teams. We brought in information from configured database views from airCFO's core horizontal databases, such as projects and tasks, meeting notes, and clients. The operating system dashboards were built to enable easy access to data and information, streamlined communications, and transparent individual and program management.
- OKR Manager: We deployed an OKR Manager to facilitate the planning, ongoing maintenance, and communication of OKR progress, and the tracking and result gathering of the OKRs. We facilitated planning in the OKR manager and ensured each airCFO lead updated and communicated progress and blockers through this application. We also facilitated review meetings within the OKR Manager.
- Financial and Operational Reporting Dashboard: We built financial and operational reporting dashboards that connected Google Studio with Notion to embed dashboard views to review reporting data on department, team, and individual profitability. The dashboard was designed to help airCFO understand performance and make decisions on changes the organization needed to make.
These applications were designed, built, and deployed within airCFO's Notion workspace, enabling easy access to data and information, streamlined communications, and transparent individual and program management. By deploying these applications, we were able to create a comprehensive operating system that enabled airCFO to manage and operate its internal operations more efficiently and effectively.
Workflow Standardization and Enhancement
Our final activity is not so final, it is an ever-evolving activity that we have observed to become more valuable over time, as airCFO’s team continues to adopt the tool. This activity is centered around workflow standardization and enhancement, where we focus on streamlining airCFO's operations by creating intelligent workflows within their workspace. We leverage database templates to scale applications by utilizing self-referential fields and pre-configured database views. By doing so, we were able to standardize workflows such as client onboarding, new hire onboarding, customer success client escalations, repricing exercises, and client management. We also leverage database templates to standardize meeting agendas and note collection for 1:1 meetings, group meetings, and client meetings.
We placed an emphasis on simplifying execution for menial tasks by leveraging these pre-built workflows to standardize execution. This approach allowed us to build the system for the workflows, rather than fitting workflows to the system. The result was cleaner data, time saved on every repeated task, and a standardized model for airCFO's clients to interact with airCFO employees, driving consistent and reliable delivery.
“Over the last year-plus, I’ve watched Bryan become one of the world’s top experts in building enterprise-grade operating systems that leverage the power of Notion. He built airCFO a completely custom OS from the ground up, partnering with team members across the org to create something that fits our exact needs. The tool by itself is very valuable, but Bryan has been even more critical in helping our team acclimate to this new way of working. He’s created useful documentation for each component of our CompanyOS and even trained individual team members to help them get comfortable running their day-to-day through Notion. We’ve seen our adoption stats skyrocket over the last 6 months thanks to the extra effort Bryan put in to creating a system that’s user-friendly for our team. Leveling up our CompanyOS was one of the most impactful projects we worked on as a company in 2022. I would HIGHLY recommend Bryan to any founder or Ops person looking to build a scaleable operating system using Notion.” — Alex Wittenberg, airCFO COO