How to Convince Your CFO That BPM Software is Right for Your Company (And How Not to)
Anyone can see the value in handling your internal processes with an easy-to-use business process management (BPM).
The harder challenge is getting the CFO and other management to open up the purse strings. Financial and functional managers may not see the purchase of BPM software the same way that an IT director of the company does.
In the same way kids must try to convince their parents that a certain video game console is the perfect choice, IT directors and global application managers have to think from a different perspective. Do you focus on the features? Ease of use? Relative cost? Security?
Here are a few tips on how to build buy-in from the top management on the immediate value of a BPM solution.
1. Talk About Problems
When you are advocating for any software, it’s always better to be seen as a critical solution to a major problem rather than a nice-to-have add on.
What are the specific, urgent, important problems your company is facing that an enterprise process management solution would solve? Is confusion over processes causing delays that impact revenue? Is the company losing money because of errors caused by manual systems? Is there a specific story of how the lack of tracking caused a serious problem in your supply chain? Will BPM help fill the sales funnel faster, reduce churn, increase customer engagement, shorten the sales cycle?
Identify where a lack of automation hurts the most, and make sure to quantify it with numbers along with anecdotal stories.
2. Show the ROI
Talking to the CFO about reducing costs is like showing a fifth grader the way to the candy store. A CFO’s brain is programmed to automatically calculate the return of investment (ROI) for every spending that a company makes. It’s key that he or she doesn’t see a BPM solution as an additional IT cost, but a way to significantly reduce costs in other parts of the business.
Tailor your message to focus on the impact that a well-implemented human-centric BPM can have on an organization. Don’t start with the cost of the solution. Instead, first present the potential savings that can come as a result of using it.
What impact will automated business process management have on your revenue if you existing sales team can follow through with 30% more leads than they can right now? What are the costs related to errors on POs, late payments, and incorrect invoices? Where do you have excess staff handling manual routine data management such as leave requests that could be better handled by a smaller team with automation on their side? What about savings in stationary and courier costs?
After you present the potential returns from a BPM solution, showing the cost in comparison should be an easy sell.
3. Share a Case Study From Your Industry
The Kissflow blog features nearly 50 stories of customers from a diverse range of industries. Find one that matches your company and share it as a story. Whether you are a financial services enterprise looking to reduce bureaucracy, an ecommerce store with growing revenues, or a local startup that wants to stay lean, you can find someone else who has gone before you.
4. Give a Quick Demo
If the BPM software you want to use is worth the cost, you should be able to demo it to your CFO on a coffee break. It should give that “Wow!” feeling that makes people immediately see the value. If the BPM solution you have picked takes a long time to figure out or requires a lot of complex coding, it will be very hard to get the buy-in you need.
Your CFO should get immediately excited about the possibilities of using a human-centric BPM solution. Select a process mapping expert from your organization and package the BPM initiative into an easy to understand presentation.
How to Mess Up Your Pitch
If you follow the above tips, your CFO will be open to the idea of considering incorporating a BPM system for your enterprise processes. But be mindful about avoiding the following things to derail your BPM proposal:
Don’t Harp on Cost
When you focus on the cost (whether large or small), you are reinforcing the idea that the BPM system is a cost center and isn’t providing value other places. Pricing is often negotiable and you likely just need to start with a ballpark figure, rather than a detailed analysis. The cost should come at the end and should easily be outweighed by the benefits.
Don’t Geek Out on the Tech
You know how efficient and secure the underlying platform for your favorite BPM software is. You may also know lots of cool tricks you can do with it that impress other IT folks. There may be a reports or analytics feature that you think is amazing.
However, it’s not smart to lead with these details. Remember to focus on the parts that appeal most to the CFO and not what you are the most excited about.
Don’t Over Emphasize the Features
This may seem counterintuitive, but remember that it is the benefits that will sell the product, not necessarily the features. Always start with how this BPM tool will solve some of your pressing problems as a company. How exactly it solves those things may not be as important as that it solves them.
But if you are in a situation where you are changing BPM solutions or if there is one feature that really stands out for your company, by all means lead with that. As our CEO says, “When people come to Jurassic Park, they want to see a dinosaur. Show the dinosaur as soon as possible.”
Selling a BPM solution internally can be a big challenge if your top management doesn’t already understand what BPM can do for the entire enterprise. If you follow these tips, you will be able to put a spark in your CFO’s mind that maybe this is just the solution you need. Good luck!