Going into budget preparation season, most leaders know that highly automated companies are more likely to experience revenue growth – and those that don’t automate are facing a breaking point. It doesn’t take a crystal ball to forecast that many readers of this blog will be including process automation platforms like K2 in their line items for 2018.
Actually, according to AIIM’s recent survey, Business Process Automation in 2017: Designing an Intelligent Workplace, 20 percent of businesses surveyed plan to purchase an automation solution within the next six months to a year; 28 percent plan to expand their current systems within the next six months to a year.
After speaking with a few trusted CIO sources (with over 20 years’ combined industry experience), I’ve come up with a few practical tips for getting enough budget to purchase the process automation solution your enterprise desperately needs.
- Make your request in business terms only. Yes, you’ve heard this one plenty of times before but it bears repeating. “Look at all these cool things you can do” is the tactic you should take when selling a new solution to your team, not the board or CFO. You’ll need to figure out how to align your proposal with corporate initiatives and show how they roll all the way up to core business KPIs. Be sure to consider seasonal differences or recent pushes from within the company so you can capitalize on what’s top of mind.
- Map out the alternatives. Start this exercise as early as possible – it may prove just as useful for you as for your approvers. Assemble a well-reasoned analysis of why you are making this particular recommendation, a comparison to a few comparable solutions, and a forecast of what would happen if you try to DIY process automation or live with what you already have.
- Determine the total cost of ownership, including software costs, professional services, internal labor, etc.Bring the costs not reflected in upfront pricing to the forefront and you’ll be able to make a more realistic proposal. You don’t want to end up in any or all of these situations: 1) You don’t have enough budget to implement/drive adoption successfully; 2) You have to keep going back to ask for more money; 3) The board or C-suite loses faith in your judgement.
- If possible, derive the net present value.Determining an investment in today’s dollars is the extra credit that might just push your ask into the “approved” column.
- Know your audience.Once you’ve done all your homework on the numbers side of things, take some time to find out who you’ll be presenting to. Is this your first year making a case to the CEO? Are there any new members on the board? Are there a few key people whose opinion weighs extra heavily? If so, you’ll want to talk to other senior executives to find out what kinds of questions they ask, what topics do they tend to focus on, and how they prefer to be presented to. You might also consider asking to sit down with one or two influencers beforehand as a preview – revealing to them you want to be as prepared as possible doesn’t make you look uncertain, it makes you look smart.
Everyone wants and needs to automate in the coming years. But even if you get your ask approved, you’ll still be struggling with developer shortages, the ever-growing IT backlog and tighter deadlines. This is why you need a process automation platform that enables you to build process applications rapidly and that can scale the entire organization. And you’ll have plenty to learn from those organizations who are already ahead of pack when it comes to enterprise-wide process automation.
Get a deeper peek into the minds of process automation leaders by downloading your free copy of the AIIM report, Business Process Automation in 2017: Designing an Intelligent Workplace, here.