How to get your CFO to sign off on Accounts Payable automation
The facts are in your favour—but the devil’s in the details
You’ve done a bit of homework (see the first and second AP posts here) on accounts payable automation and you are psyched about the great possibilities it offers. Your current manual accounts payable system is so old and tired that dust flies from the ledger every time somebody makes an entry.
Clearly, there are major time and money savings to be had by updating your system—or lack of one. In fact, you’ve come to realize that the only way for your business to achieve best-in-class performance is by moving boldly into the present.
Now you just have to convince your boss.
First, take a deep breath. How you go about pitching your idea is nearly as important as the information you’re pitching. And your success or failure could have a direct impact on your career future.
Here are a few tips to get you to a happy ending.
1. Don’t act like it’s no big deal.
Sure, you could casually segue from your water cooler chat about Game of Thrones to why you think AP automation would be good for the biz. It might even be a decent way to plant a seed or get a quick read on your boss’s attitude. But if you’re serious, you’ll be best served by taking a serious approach.
2. Put yourself in your boss’s shoes.
Ask yourself, what are your boss’s priorities? What are their goals? What constitutes a win in their world? Once you’ve figured that out, you can move to the next step, and start creating a pitch that speaks eloquently to their most pressing needs.
3. Do your homework.
With your feet firmly planted in your boss’s shoes, start gathering facts that speak to their priorities.
ROI? Time savings? Eliminating paper clutter? Transparency and control? Error reduction? Compliance? You can find plenty of compelling evidence for all these benefits and many more. Organizing them according to your boss’s priorities will make them much stronger arguments.
4. Plan to take the lead.
If your pitch is successful, you should be prepared to take the lead in making it happen. And while you’re preparing your pitch, it’s probably worth doing it on your own time.
Alternately, you could ask your boss’s permission to look into the benefits of AP automation. But then it’s just another assignment—and the credit falls to them, not you. Whatever you do, make sure your own current work is satisfactory and up to date, or your side project is not going to be very impressive.
5. Deliver your presentation.
This should be done in two steps. First, ask for a meeting where you briefly and enthusiastically explain what you’ve been working on (in your own time), very briefly go over the benefits you’ve discovered (lead with the ones that speak most strongly to your boss’s priorities), and ask to make a formal presentation.
Most likely, they’ll be happy to hear you out. If they say no, it might be time to start looking for a new job. Because you’ve just displayed some awesome initiative and leadership, whether or not they end up liking the idea.
If all this sounds like a lot of work, it is. But just think of how much better your job will be when that shiny new automated system is in place. Hey, it’s worth a shot. And like Wayne Gretzky once said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.”