Absci Corporation (Nasdaq: ABSI), a leader in the data-driven protein drug discovery revolution harnessing deep learning AI and biology to dramatically reduce the time it takes to develop new medicines, accomplished its initial public offering (IPO) and its financial technology transformation in a very accelerated timeline.
One of the strategies to achieve these milestones included partnering with CrossCountry Consulting for best-in-class technical accounting and financial reporting support during the transaction. Shortly after the IPO, Absci further engaged CrossCountry to support its financial technology transformation, which included a Coupa implementation.
Todd Bedrick led Absci’s finance team through the IPO journey in seven short months, and, once complete, immediately pivoted to maturing their financial technology through five core financial system go-lives in a single month, including Coupa.
Absci faced some of the most common challenges we see organizations face in their public company readiness. These challenges include:
- People. Resources bandwidth within the accounting, finance, and purchasing teams was limited, and key roles to complete its IPO were not yet onboarded. Absci’s existing team was beyond capacity with their existing job functions and through the transaction. Additional support was necessary to meet the accelerated timeline.
- Process. Manual processes such as month-end close were using an unnecessary amount of valuable resource time and proved challenging. Automation, role-based real-time reporting and transparency, and compliant approval workflows were a must to carry Absci forward and be ready for its IPO and being a public company.
- Technology. Absci’s financial technology, and what was lacking, was not going to support the company’s rapid growth or the requirements they were soon to face as a public company. A scalable financial technology transformation was needed, one that would bring automation, provide transparency, and meet these crucial requirements.
Our Approach and Impact
Planning for the right team at the right time is critical to a successful IPO. In fact, in an IPO readiness poll with over 600 participants, hiring and retaining the right talent is the number one IPO challenge businesses face when going public.
Addressing Absci’s inefficient and manual processes, and lack of adequate financial technology, was equally as important as preparing the right team. During the IPO, CrossCountry filled the gaps in accounting and finance with a dedicated team of accounting and financial reporting experts.
These efforts included documenting highly complex technical accounting positions, drafting SEC filings, backfilling month-end close responsibilities, and working collaboratively with Absci’s auditors.
While this surge support was the right short-term solution, Absci recognized that it needed to continue to grow its team as well as initiate a robust financial technology transformation that would support its continued public company needs. Absci made the transition from numerous manual processes and unsophisticated systems to automated, integrated, and compliant processes through Coupa, NetSuite, and three other technology implementations with integration capabilities.
Partnering with CrossCountry Consulting supported having the right team and processes in place, allowing Absci to quickly realize the value and impact Coupa brings to the organization. Coupa’s real-time reporting and automation support allow Absci to quickly analyze department-level spend and also maintain an appropriate approval workflow within its procure-to-pay process. Coupa’s ease of use and customizable defined user roles and automated approval workflows, in partnership with CrossCountry Consulting’s training, meant any user on the team could successfully access Coupa and benefit from reporting, even the organization’s scientists who don’t typically operate financial systems.
The Absci journey was an incredible sprint, but many challenges remained after ringing the bell. What does CrossCountry recommend for an optimal readiness journey?
- Focus on the people, process, and technology transformation. Adding a new system to a convoluted process, or without adequate resources, won’t help. In fact, it will just make the experience worse. You can’t have a successful implementation without a focus on process and people. Strategic analysis and planning in these areas will support success with all three together: people, process, and technology.
- Engage qualified experts. It’s usually not efficient or cost-effective to staff up internally for the peak effort needed during an IPO. Identifying and engaging qualified accounting and financial reporting experts such as CrossCountry Consulting is critical to ensure the quality and timeliness of IPO filings.
- Technology up and running. Focus on having your technology such as Coupa, NetSuite, FloQast, Adaptive, etc. up and running in advance of going public.
- Reiterate timeline. While we’ve mentioned 9-12 months for a registration statement process, being ready to operate as a public company is a different and longer timeline. The good news is it can start sooner and be managed in a more orderly, controlled way. One more tip: Your timeline should include the plan to draft the S-1 in advance.
- End-to-end IPO readiness assessment. This is a great place to start and should be focused not just on finance but on the whole organization from HR to IT, SOX readiness, FP&A, month close, etc. Often, we see people focus on finance, but being a public company impacts the whole organization. There is increased scrutiny on executive compensation and related disclosures, and an organization’s financial planning and analysis (FP&A) has to be locked in to expectations, for example. We recommend this end-to-end IPO readiness assessment take place ideally 1-2 years before an initial filing. In addition, a roadmap to close gaps in an achievable and cost-effective manner needs to be developed and executed.
- System upgrades and process review. It is important to ensure any system you’re currently on or moving to is updated to the current release and version. Having a thorough process review to identify gaps and to support tighter and more effective processes helps with IPO readiness and allows for a smoother addition of “pre-SOX” controls. Additionally, aim to have the required public-company processes in place and act like a public company before embarking on the formal journey.
- CrossCountry Consulting’s Post-Production Support. Many of our clients, including Absci, will continue to realize and appreciate the value and impact of our Coupa experts well after the initial go-live. CrossCountry Consulting’s PPS team operates as an extension of your team after go-live to support updates based on user needs and help grow the tool as they learn of new features as Coupa launches new releases. System upgrades and release management are additional areas our team of experts support our clients with.
For expert public-company readiness and technology implementation solutions, contact CrossCountry Consulting.