How to convince your CFO of your automation initiative Part 2

Part 1 of this series focused on the detailed preparation of the business case for your automation initiative and what you need to consider, among other things, before talking to your CFO.

Now the time has come to present the sophisticated automation initiative to your CFO in order to realize its execution. But stop, just a moment. The time is not yet ripe for your presentation. No matter how sophisticated and well-thought-out your automation initiative already is, let’s put ourselves in the position of your CFO and his responsibility once again, even more so in a situation like the one we are currently in with COVID-19. We can twist and turn it any way we want, at the end of the day, your CFO will have the word risk floating around in large letters in his head. For you as the initiator of a business case for automation in your company, this means in other words: You are the CFO’s risk factor and at the same time a potential security factor. So before you reach out, in the second part of this series, we will do everything we can to provide the best possible protection for your CFO by better explaining the strategic plan for risk reduction and optimized business results.

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Once again, we get inside the CFO’s head. The questions about the risks associated with your automation initiative that are floating around could sound like this:

  • How long will it take to turn automation into added value?
  • How safe is automation feasible, also with regard to other priorities in our company and to our competition?
  • Will change management be accepted and implemented by our employees without major problems?
  • How expensive will the change management process be in the short term, how expensive will the development and improvement be in the medium and long term?

One thing quickly becomes clear: the risk for your CFO is high. On the other hand, the following question must be asked at the same time: what are the risks in the future, if no investments are made in automation today? The goal must therefore be to develop a strategic plan for automation that shows risk reduction with simultaneously optimized business results compared to the current status quo.

The strategic plan is based on financial and non-financial performance indicators (KPIs), which can be divided into performance and employee management, which in turn provides a comprehensible view of the desired representation of risk mitigation. Accordingly, let’s first look at the individual financial performance indicators in performance management, then at the individual non-financial performance indicators in people management, with a view to the respective key automation functions and the final result as risk mitigation and optimized business outcome:

  • Scalability: automation provides more insight, allowing faster and more accurate decisions = high scalability of your business
  • Revenue optimizations: Process throughput times can be significantly shortened through automation = potential for revenue growth by expanding business activities
  • Cost optimizations: thanks to automation, time-consuming work previously carried out manually by employees can be processed much faster and more efficiently = process and operating costs can be reduced
  • Compliance with legal guidelines and regulations: automated process verification and processing minimizes the susceptibility to errors and complies with legal guidelines and regulations = risk reduction through error resistance

From performance management, we make the leap seamlessly to non-financial performance indicators in employee management and in the operational implementation of automation technology, which of course is equally important. The benefits of automation for employees are obvious to you, but not necessarily to your colleagues or employees. At least not initially. The keyword here is the fear of job loss due to not knowing what automation will or will not change in the future and what exactly the implications are. A clear communication is essential to take away the first fear and to explain also the advantages. Basically: playing with open cards always pays off in the long run! Your CFO will also be enthusiastic to take up these points. After all, a constructive and motivated work culture and workforce is the be-all and end-all of a successful company:

  • Increase employee satisfaction: by automating tedious work, employees are given time that they can devote to work that requires analytical thinking = employee satisfaction increases thanks to challenging tasks and greater appreciation
  • Improve customer service: the time gained through automation can be used for better and more efficient customer service = customer satisfaction increases and employees are also affected

By linking the individual automations in performance and employee management on a cross-departmental and company-wide level, the big picture of comprehensive automation can be drawn, in which the fine details become apparent in large differences.

In the final part of this series, we will finally look at how your automation initiative is executed and how it creates value for your business.

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