Principal Revenue Accountant at Sift
In the constantly evolving world of software, the dynamic area of finance and pricing changes with the data available. But data doesn’t function on its own. Behind it are people whose talent for numbers helps businesses grow and save money. Just like our Pricing Pioneer, Michelle (Shelly) Glassic, Principal Revenue Accountant at Sift.
Shelly joined the unicorn startup in January 2021 and has been overlooking its revenue operations ever since. Sift, a comprehensive fraud detection platform, needed an expert to implement new solutions and reimagine the billing process, which was becoming cumbersome and challenging. We’re excited to share the story of how she got there.
Shelly’s professional life seemed clear from the very beginning. She took accounting and advanced accounting in high school and actively pursued it as a career path due to her interest in the subject.
With her career path clear, Shelly studied at the University of Minnesota but focused on an internship honors program at the Minneapolis Business College. This decision allowed her to get an internship and then secure employment at the Higher Education Assistance Foundation where she began her career.
Shelly’s relationship with numbers and processes took her from her first job with accounts payable, through a position in computer analysis, to accounts receivable. Her growing experience led her to new opportunities at another company, overseeing contract management—which required skills in pricing, reviewing, and costing—as well as overlooking the software features used by her team.
The constant learning and affinity for puzzles led to Shelly saving her employer $120,000 per month through a simple change in processing and costing. “There were some things that they automated that didn't quite automate correctly,” she says. “When I took over, I was supposed to do it the way they’d done it before, but I knew that it was wrong. When I changed it, I didn't realize quite how much I would be saving them! They ended up offering me the position of revenue manager as a result.”
But Shelly never stopped learning. New inventory management tools caught her attention, and she took pleasure in implementing Oracle and SAP. This varied experience, including discovering new accounting software solutions, ensured that she would be ready for the next big step: moving to Sift—a fast-growing startup.
After joining Sift, Shelly’s first project was implementing Avalara, a sales tax software. This was a big lift and a positive start to a significant challenge that came afterward. “The billing software that they were using gave us quite a few hiccups,” says Shelly. “There were a lot of things that we weren't able to figure out and, unfortunately, the support wasn't what we now have with m3ter.”
Billing was often wrong, the system couldn’t handle the growth of the business, the information was often incorrect, and it was impossible to forecast any numbers until the end of each month when the reports were ready. It was time for a change.
Shelly considers herself lucky to be working for Sift. She explains, “Sift is the only company I’ve seen where we've had the tools to do what we need. In other companies, other departments drove what tool we used for billing. At Sift, we considered really big players, thought about building the new solution in-house, and involved the major stakeholders. It was a significant decision, but finance was given the final say about what we went with.”
In the end, the people who work with the tools are the best ones to evaluate what they need, so the choice to go with m3ter started paying off immediately. “I have a lot of pride in having m3ter as our solution,” adds Shelly.
Shelly is always looking for enhancements because she believes that's how the company can learn, grow, and provide more value. However, the variety of her job means that she works with a lot of people and needs to provide value to many stakeholders while focusing on pricing as one of her priorities.
Shelly reviews pricing and looks at different variances, while also making sure that all the invoices and reporting are correct and that everything is in order for monthly audits of the data. She is very involved on the revenue side and needs to ensure that all the information flows accurately and efficiently. But pricing involves people, and Shelly believes that explaining the ‘whys’ builds better relationships within the company.
“I look at pricing, talk to people about it, discuss changes in it, analyze how they would work, and evaluate the sales reps’ solutions for customers,” she comments. “And I’m not a ’no’ person. If we can’t do something, I help people learn why that is. I want them to grow in their roles. I may be a finance person who loves numbers, but I also need to be able to interact with people and have a solution that works while explaining it to people.”
Shelly’s advice is to start by getting some hands-on experience, perhaps as a receivable clerk, doing the billing job while getting the general ledger background. She believes that it’s paramount to understand the basics, the debits, and credits. “In my role, I've come across people that don't understand,” she comments. “There are a lot of people who just do things because they've been told to do it a certain way without thinking about how things work.”
Figuring out the how and the why allows for a more critical approach to problems that could, one day, save someone else $120,000 per month. “Don't just do something because it's the way you’re told it's supposed to be done,” says Shelly. “Understand why it's done that way and how everything flows. It's really important. Especially if you want to be on the revenue side or the billing side. You need to understand all of finance: all the debits, credits, how it all flows, all that nerdy stuff.”
To end all our conversations in this series, we’re doing a rapid fire round of questions to get to know each Pricing Pioneer better.