6 Effective Ways to Persuade Your CFO to Add AI to Your AP Team
Enterprise Account Executive
With a bit of forethought and preparation, you can enlighten even the most entrenched finance leaders on the benefits of adopting AI technology solutions.
July 18, 2022
4 min read
Artificial intelligence (AI) has the power to unlock incredible potential in accounting and finance. In fact, in accounts payable (AP) – one of the most manual and error-prone processes – full autonomy has already been shown to improve invoice processing productivity by 355%.
This fact alone has been enough to convince countless financial leaders to implement AI in their AP processes. However, if your CFO is still skeptical, here is a six-part plan to make an effective sell – and start reaping the benefits of AI at your company.
1.Plan for Resistance.
Sometimes the strongest leaders are the hardest to convince. Your boss is probably offered all types of solutions through email marketing and direct sales, plus they might have been burned by shiny software that sounded amazing in the past, but didn’t reach their expectations. Arm yourself before approaching your executive leadership by fully understanding your audience, your aim, and all the facts. Making a well thought out case will help you fight the resistance, but be prepared to answer the tough questions. The next few steps will help you get there.
2.Tally the Benefits.
Document all possible benefits of the new technology in question. In the case of AP processing, the benefits of AI are clear. Here are some examples:
Faster invoice processing. HSB, the Nordic region’s largest real estate company, is saving 25,000 hours per year by automating manual invoice processing. AI is helping a typical company reduce invoice processing time by 80%.
Improved accuracy. Accounting AI can take the guesswork out of processing thousands of documents with 97-99% accuracy. (How accurate are humans after keying in the data for their 50th invoice of the day?)
Double coding, eliminated. AI has allowed HSB’s AP team to ditch the double coding required by their separate optical character reader (OCR) and outdated AP software. Now, with one system, invoices are conveniently uploaded to Vic.ai, and the AI ingests the documents and codes them for the accountants.
Cleaner audit trails. All-in-one AI solutions result in cleaner AP data, which makes for complete audit trails and a quicker and easier audit process.
Happier AP teams. When asked why they want to implement AP innovations, 70% of surveyed AP professionals say they want to reduce the time required to process invoices and 68% note interest in reducing manual processes. According to Vic.ai customer, Margereta, Director of Accounting Operations at Higher Ground Education, “The AP team loves it! It really helps them to become reviewers instead of processor (of data entry).”
Labor challenges, solved. Hiring is no easy feat in today’s tight labor market. With AI, companies can scale their accounting capabilities without the need for more employees.
It’s also worth educating your leadership on the risks of not adopting a new technology – including wasting resources and falling behind competitors.
3. Tally the Negatives.
When considering new technology options, it’s just as important to weigh the negatives as the positives. This way, you’ll not only be confident you’re recommending the very best product, but you’ll also be armed with supporting arguments proving why the benefits outweigh the costs for that technology.
Think in advance about what negatives your CFO might be looking out for -- which could include high costs, unreliability, or poor customer service, among other factors – and keep those in mind as you do your research. Resources like G2 are a great place to start when gathering this important information, including reviews direct from customers already using these products.
Executives need to see proof that new technologies will have a clear return on investment (ROI). Create a solid business case for your CFO, including baseline and projected metrics that demonstrate the expected ROI. These metrics, many of which are listed above, might include resource savings, employee retention, customer satisfaction, and/or other factors specific to your company and the technology in question. You can get started calculating ROI specific to your organization using Vic.ai’s handy ROI Calculator.
5.Create Appropriate Communications Materials.
In order to help illustrate the ideal future state of the technology you’d like to adopt, create a press release and associated frequently asked questions (PR FAQ) to hand directly to your leadership. A PR FAQ should include a press release, written from the future point-of-view of when a new product is adopted; a public FAQ, detailing questions the customer may have; and an internal FAQ, answering internal stakeholder questions. This document will help all interested parties clearly understand the benefits of the new technology, as well as necessary resource allocations and implementation processes.
6.Paint the Whole Picture.
As tempting as it is to only argue the positives, the best leaders will consider all impacts of a new technology – including any challenges, risks, or potential negative impacts. With AI, this might include job reassignments as employees’ time is freed up by the technology. By being up front with these externalities – and framing them in a positive light – you can help leadership feel confident that they have a full grasp of the decision at hand. Your leadership team will need advocates like you to help spearhead the implementation of the technology, so become an expert and offer to help train/hire colleagues on new processes.
Make the Sell
With a bit of forethought and preparation, you can enlighten even the most entrenched finance leaders on the benefits of adopting AI technology solutions. By arming yourself with strong metrics, convincing case studies, and a watertight future vision, you can help leadership fully optimize your finance department – resulting in smarter strategies, preserved resources, higher morale, and a leg up on the competition.