Not too long ago, the CFO’s job was less complex: to maintain the financial health of the company. This one duty included reporting spend against budget, identifying investment opportunities, and mitigating financial risks. But since the evolution of FinTech, CFOs have evolved into strategic innovators who help lead the charge on financial decisions driven by digital information and data.
With all of the FinTech noise around blockchain, Bitcoin, and RegTech, AP automation can seem like just one more tech-savvy trend to add to the list. CFOs are tasked with making the difficult decision of whether or not each FinTech trend is a “nice to have” or a necessity for a healthy financial future. They must consider the board of directors, budget, ROI, and direction of the business’ growth and opportunities. It’s more complicated than a simple yes or no.
In order to sell the benefits of AP automation for your business, there are a few points to cover with your boss.
What is AP Automation?
Most CFOs have heard at least bits and pieces about AP automation, but it’s critical for them to understand exactly what it is and how it works. Simply put, AP automation solutions streamline the accounts payable process from start to finish in a cloud-based portal.
Here are a few tech-worthy points and perks:
- Solutions seamlessly integrate with your existing ERP system.
- Customizable workflows digitize your existing AP processes.
- Automated invoice approvals and reminders.
- Better reporting and big data.
- Supportive network and experts to handle the heavy lifting.
AP automation is designed to help save your workday by automating the AP tasks that cost your business the most time and money. The most important point to convince bosses is that AP automation solutions remove paper processes that too often result in lost invoices, late payments, and manual mistakes. With streamlined payable processes, your finance department has increased visibility into where invoices and payments are in the payment process by simply logging into the portal instead of searching through emails and filing cabinets.
The Immediate Need for Investment
Of all the FinTech trends to invest in, your CFO may raise the question, “Why now? Can this wait?” The answer depends on how much risk your business wants to take by continuing to experience the problems inherent with paper-based AP systems:
- Manual data entry and inefficient processes
- Lost or missing printed invoices
- Manual invoice approval routing
- Decentralized AP processes.
Other impactful hurdles finance departments deal with include late supplier payments, financial fraud, and limited visibility and control for data-driven financial decisions. Your business faces even bigger financial risks every day without a secure solution. Delaying the move to automation can cost your business proprietary information and thousands of dollars in the near future.
Addressing Common Concerns
Naturally, your leader probably will have concerns about investing in new technology. According to the 2018 Payables Insight Report, 36 percent of businesses aren’t investing in payment automation solutions due to lack of budget. From a processing perspective, 21 percent of businesses believe current processes are working just fine.
Other barriers come from a lack of understanding what solutions are available, their benefits, and fear of no ROI. For building a persuasive business case, it’s critical to effectively communicate how AP automation saves your business from fraud, employee burnout, and costly manual mistakes.
Building a Business Case for AP Automation
In order to build a strong business case for AP automation, there are a few points your CFO will be eager to hear you address.
- The best solutions for the business’ bucks. Your leader is anxious to hear what cost-effective and valuable solution options are best for the business. CFOs are looking for solutions that scale for growth, are easy to implement, and are innovative with regular updates to meet industry and business needs.
- The immediate and long-term impact. Your leaders may question if the business receives enough invoices to justify AP automation. It’s critical to point out the immediate improvements, including efficiency and processing-cost reduction.
- The ROI. Be prepared to share the total monthly man-hours and dollars saved from implementation. Consider checking out the industry standards for Best-In-Class businesses to see how much they’re spending to process invoices and payments in comparison to your company.
- The implementation process. Hopefully, by now your leaders are on board. But they need to understand what the implementation process looks like for integrating a solution. How long will it take? What technical support is available? What information is at stake? Who are the key stakeholders for this to be successful? Be ready to answer all questions so your team knows what to expect during the switch.