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Selling to the CFO? Here Are 3 Things You Need to Convince Your CFO to Buy In. Three things must be in your plan to ensure buy-in and ROI with digital transformation.

By Andrew Walker Edited by Ryan Droste

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

While it's true that CFOs spend an exceptional amount of time looking at numbers, many have sat in other seats within their organization and know that there are times when big decisions shouldn't be based solely on numbers and a budget.

This is especially true when it comes to digital transformation. because the project itself is anything but black and white. The way in which it is presented is critical.

For this reason, there need to be elements in your plan that go beyond a dollar presentation when asking for buy-in from your CFO (or other leaders who manage your company budget). After all, digital transformation is more about storytelling — painting a clear picture of what to expect before getting into dollars spent.

Here are three things that must be in your plan to ensure buy-in and ROI with digital transformation.

Related: Increase Your Digital ROI in 2023 with These Advertising Trends

Analyze your approval process and determine who your players will be

To start your digital transformation plan, I recommend that you do a deep dive into your current organizational processes.

Ask yourself questions such as:

  • How are big projects currently being managed?
  • Where do bottlenecks and inefficiencies lie?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of your current systems and processes?

Doing this will help you put a plan in place for digital transformation, ensuring that a seamless process follows. One of the biggest missteps a company can make is to skip this step, and as a result, the project gets stalled or put on the back burner because there isn't a predetermined system in place.

In addition to analyzing internal processes, you need to figure out which departments will need to be involved in the digital overhaul. Who will your "players" be to ensure the project is successful? Also, and just as important, what are their goals? Your IT department will have very different wants and needs than marketing or sales, so it's important to identify who the involved parties will be from the get-go.

Once you've analyzed your current approval process and determined which departments will have a say in digital transformation, the next step is to designate who the approvers will be. For example, reducing from six people down to one or two will help to eliminate redundancies, streamline and avoid bottlenecking when it comes to moving things forward with digital transformation.

Related: What Should You Aim for in ROI?

Create KPIs that are tracked while the project is happening

Another common mistake companies make when creating a digital transformation master plan is that they create KPIs to measure once the digital transformation is complete, but they don't think to put ones in place in real-time for a pre-evaluation of effectiveness.

This is also a great way to entice buy-in from your CFO by creating milestones as you go. Doing so will not only help you to deliver updates to your CFO along the way, but it will also help if and when you need to request more dollars for a change order because you can showcase the KPIs you have met — making the ask easier.

Also, as different features become available online, you can use these KPIs to start to show the sum of actions and how they will help lead to the ultimate outcome: ROI. Time on site, or the number of pages visited, are great measurements, and once you can see dollars converting, it will allow other data points to tell their own story. Best of all, by measuring the business impact of new functionalities, you can refine your project backlog and prioritize features that will deliver the most value.

Don't cap your budget from the get-go — monitor in real-time

Never go to a CFO and say, "I need a million dollars, and then I won't need anything after that."

This will only create frustration (and potentially stall the project) when unforeseen needs such as ongoing support, licenses or updates undoubtedly arise. A successful digital transformation project should not have a defined endpoint.

Instead, your plan should focus on continuously improving your digital processes to adapt to changing business conditions, onboarding new employees and deploying new technologies. With each ongoing change, there will be a need to continuously ask for dollars and resources, so make sure this is in your plan from the get-go. This is where real-time KPIs come into play and will make your life easier when asking for more dollars.

Lastly, real-time monitoring of your digital processes, once you get started, will be essential for identifying emerging issues that could impact the transformation. However, if you proactively address potential problems, you can mitigate risks and ensure the ongoing success of your digital project. Real-time monitoring also enables you to optimize your processes continuously, further increasing your ROI.

Related: How to Pitch Your Business-Investment Case

The path forward

While there are many things that need to be taken into consideration when it comes to getting buy-in from your CFO, utilizing the above tips will ensure a successful digital transformation, ultimately leading to a new influx of happy, life-long customers.

Andrew Walker

CEO of Shift7 Digital

Andrew Walker, Shift7 Digital CEO, pairs expertise in experiential design and marketing technology with extensive experience in digital communications specializing in manufacturing. He implements B2B companies’ digital transformation needs so they can connect with their customers on a deeper level.

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