The best way to Advocate Automation to the CFO (Half 2)

That is the second article in a three-part collection. The collection is a information for enterprise leaders who advocate automation because the company-wide perform of the Chief Monetary Officer (CFO). Half one of many collection was about understanding your viewers and getting ready for the necessary presentation to ask concerning the finances.

On this article we’re going to go into the small print of the right way to construction the dialog through automation with the CFO.

You’ll little question begin the dialog with the CFO by setting out the enterprise case for adjustments. It will cope with the questions “Why one thing, why now, and why this?” That are mentioned intimately within the first a part of this collection.

Subsequent, it might be typical knowledge to elucidate key supportive particulars:

  1. 1. Execution – This system particulars for implementing and supporting the know-how
  2. 2. Realization of worth – the monetary particulars of the worth stage delivered through the years

In my expertise, when you step down this path, the CFO asks large questions like:

  • How quickly will the corporate be able to ship the worth automation guarantees?
  • How certain are we (as a corporation) that we will do that within the face of competing priorities and useful resource constraints?
  • How a lot does it value time and sources to “enhance” this skill after which assist it over the long run (on the stage required to be world class)?

What concern does every of those questions assist? The reply is danger.

Nothing on the CFO’s thoughts is extra pressing and clear than the necessity to handle danger – particularly in the course of the pandemic. The CFO wants to avoid wasting money, maintain workers secure and obtain a return on funding. And they should do no matter it takes whereas securing the availability chain and strengthening the infrastructure for enterprise continuity. How the CFO offers with danger is necessary to the board of administrators of the group, the buyers and definitely to the heads of the enterprise items.

This will not be intuitive, however when you’ve established the high-level enterprise mannequin for change (the subject of the primary a part of this collection), resist the urge to delve into the small print of execution and worth realization. I do know it’s tough, nevertheless it means you aren’t following the Gannt chart for the implementation plan that you just labored so onerous with the consultants on.

Sure, these stunning money circulate statements that summarize prices and advantages over a 5 12 months interval with a optimistic current worth could have to attend a bit too.

My suggestion is that you just be higher served to proactively method a danger discount technique.

It takes some confidence to acknowledge danger, however there is a vital payoff. I discover that when you understand that defending the CFO’s funding is the main focus of your presentation, you’re compelled to have completely different conversations with completely different individuals in your organization than you in any other case might have.

A profitable automation program is in fact not the results of a single presentation to the CFO. Nevertheless, it may be used as a forcing perform to assist make choices about how automation will have an effect on efficiency administration and folks administration.

However how do you set up this dialog? Don’t fear, on this article I’m going to offer you a secret weapon that I name “the 4 cornerstones of alignment”.

As you possibly can see within the storyboard diagram beneath, the cornerstones one and two characterize efficiency administration, which is the hyperlink between technique and execution. Cornerstones three and 4 characterize human useful resource administration (and the important thing to widespread adoption).

Automation Advocate Four Cornerstones Alignment

Technique alignment

Think about a hypothetical annual administration retreat the place the CFO and the remainder of the chief group collect to achieve consensus on company technique, tackle robust market points, and set monetary plans for 3 to 5 years. This company technique course of normally runs and initiates a selected planning course of on the enterprise unit stage.

After I converse to profitable automation leaders, they share that it is very important use this window of alternative to hyperlink automation to technique. Each the strategic discussions of the corporate and the enterprise unit decide the allocation of budgets, form the company tradition and promote conduct all through the corporate.

Automation applications obtain bigger allocations when they’re aligned with strategic enterprise objectives.

Apart from funding, alignment helps guarantee prioritization and takeover by IT and enterprise groups. If individuals perceive the important thing outcomes of adopting automation, it may possibly even add to cultural acceptance. This apparent hyperlink to technique is important because it reduces the danger for the CFO of seeing the automation program as simply an IT mission.

The CFO makes use of these strategic planning and budgeting conferences to instill operational accuracy and accountability throughout the group. Automation applications thrive in lots of organizations due to their relevance to technique and a disciplined method to aligning with enterprise worth.

I not too long ago hosted a panel dialogue with Junaid Ahmed, Company Vice President (VP) of Finance at Utilized Supplies, the place he finest mentioned it:

“Don’t create a brand new story.”

Within the video beneath, Ahmed highlights the significance of speaking how the automation program “correlates instantly with firm objectives in a really tangible approach.”

Worth alignment

Through the years I’ve been humble to be invited to talk at a few of these annual administration retreats. At one level I observed that I might create a workshop for the C-suite and meet the well-known Harvard Enterprise Faculty professor and co-creator of the Balanced Scorecard, Dr. Robert Kaplan, satisfied to affix as a visitor speaker.

The balanced scorecard is a method of managing technique execution. The balanced scorecard asks the administration group to translate their strategic plan into particular measures and initiatives from 4 views:

    • Financially
    • buyer
    • Inside processes
    • Be taught and develop

No matter whether or not your organization makes use of this methodology or one other, the presentation to the CFO ought to embrace a Robotic Course of Automation (RPA) demand plan that impacts these particular actions and initiatives. A compelling technique to talk the imaginative and prescient for the automation program is to align with the monetary and non-financial key efficiency indicators (KPIs) that have an effect on the strategic plan.

Scale back danger to the CFO by offering an summary of how RPA aligns with key strategic goals. The next desk provides an instance of this. Figuring out KPIs creates credentials for the RPA program and offers steering on the enterprise outcomes that may be achieved by way of automation.


Would you wish to get a greater view? See a bigger model of this image.

Cultural orientation

The third cornerstone of the alignment is the deal with individuals. As a part of the chief group, the CFO typically needs to understand how automation improves individuals’s lives and speeds efficiency. As legendary administration guide and author Peter Drucker mentioned: “Tradition eats technique for breakfast.”

Whereas the technique is managed by the C-Suite, the tradition is nurtured by enterprise line managers and frontline workers working collectively. Having RPA aligned with tradition reduces the danger of workers resisting the introduction of automation.

For instance, in a “studying tradition”, leaders worth innovation and workers are inspired to discover artistic methods to unravel issues.

One instance is Utilized Supplies, whose core worth is worker coaching. They imagine that “innovation begins with studying” and see RPA as an necessary device to qualify workers and to offer them extra time for analytical work than for transactional work. Within the video beneath, Ahmed, Utilized Supplies company vice chairman of finance, shares that “Automation allows us to release bandwidth in worker time.”

Organizational orientation

Some organizations arrange company KPIs, however then refer RPA to automating smaller duties or restrict their use of automation to proof-of-concepts (PoCs) that would not have a major impression on the KPIs. In the meantime, their opponents are studying the right way to scale digital enterprise processes in finance, human sources (HR), IT and extra throughout the enterprise at unprecedented velocity.

The coordination of a number of departments and stakeholders is the distinction between expiring automation applications and people which can be talked about within the annual report as a major differentiation from the competitors (which our prospects have proudly performed).

On the very least, the CFO and the Chief Data Officer’s (CIO) organizations have to be geared in the direction of constructing a dependable and predictable automation perform. The CFO and the CIO can align the group by:

  1. 1. Governance and controls
  2. 2. Infrastructure and RPA growth fashions
  3. three. Financing mannequin and sponsorship

Because the automation program scales, managing the non-public aspect of the danger requires an excellent broader organizational focus. Governance controls and oversight constructions are solely a part of the story.

To keep up the pipeline of automation alternatives and drive demand, the chief group have to be aligned to agree on the automation objectives for every enterprise space. That is no small job.

Ideally, the administration’s settlement on the automation objectives takes place by way of an knowledgeable and open dialogue with every division supervisor, who establishes a consensus on the automation potential and the mandatory investments within the particular person divisions. Nevertheless, typically a extra assertive top-down method is required.

The primary method is to defend the enterprise unit supervisor as to why processes are guide. This turns the dialog from “Why automate?” to the default “Why not automate?”

The second method is to have a centralized automation identification and evaluation group that opinions every enterprise space and stories to the CFO and CIO. In fact, each should align along with your tradition for organizational change administration to achieve success.

It’s time to automate

There’s a danger we haven’t talked about: the danger of doing nothing. For instance, a examine revealed by APQC discovered that the price of the finance perform varies between zero.56% for high of the category and 1.6% of income for top achievers. Lowering this metric is a robust indicator of operational effectivity. If you happen to spend lower than a proportion of gross sales on finance, you could have in all probability streamlined and automatic processes.

Exterior benchmarks for different enterprise areas may also be supplied to the CFO. The benchmarks can present that the danger of not automating means dropping to the very best in school.

All know-how and enterprise applications contain dangers. Once you acknowledge the danger and are proactive concerning the 4 cornerstones of alignment, you can be able to reply the CFO’s questions of how rapidly, how safely, and the way a lot. If you happen to’ve reached consensus on these alignment choices, you’ve already secured the CFO’s funding.

Right here’s the excellent news: there’s a tried and true playbook that will help you align. The automation working mannequin offers a easy framework by which to course of these alignment choices.

The alignment of organizations requires schooling. Course of house owners in human sources (HR), IT and finance must learn the way automation can have an effect on their division. Our “It’s time to automate the digital summit” is a good alternative so that you can interact your colleagues in numerous enterprise areas with automation concepts which can be related to them.

Make sure you learn the final article on this collection to learn the way the automation program works to get this system to return many kinds of worth, at completely different ranges within the group. By the point you’ve learn Half Three, there are lots of instruments you need to use to create an agenda for assembly the CFO, from “Arguments for Change” to “Worth Realization”.

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