Advice and Information for Finance Professionals

Building a Strong Business Case for Finance in the Cloud

Rudolph Lukez
Director, ERP Product Marketing, Oracle

Acquiring new finance tools and technology is not a decision that’s made overnight. Chances are, things have been working up to this for months—or even years. You’ve been limping along with your existing system for a long time now, but you can’t put it off any longer—the software you have no longer supports your business needs.

But how do you convince the C-suite?

Getting executive buy-in is often the toughest part of any major technology purchase. For finance, it’s made even tougher because benefits are not always obvious. It’s not like purchasing customer-facing technology, where the investment often has an immediate impact on customer satisfaction.

But, as any CFO knows, customer retention is only one piece of a good business strategy. It’s your job to understand the role that finance technology plays in your strategy, and communicate that value to the board.

The Importance of an Agile Finance Organization

A new research report from the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and Oracle found cloud technology plays a crucial role in the agility of today’s finance organizations. This report surveyed 483 senior finance executives in large businesses or other organizations across the USA and Canada in six key industry segments: financial services, manufacturing, retail, healthcare, life sciences and higher education.

Two key finance findings alone are worth highlighting and reason enough to download this compelling report. Based on their own experiences over the last three years, agile finance organizations said they could report:

  • Increased profitability (95%) 
  • Increased revenues (89%)

These are numbers that any board member can quickly embrace.

Yet it’s a challenge for any finance organization to be agile when it’s weighed down with cumbersome, legacy systems that cannot measure the right KPIs or provide reliable information to predict the future and guide the business forward.

Looking for a complete checklist of factors to evaluate? Get the guide.

A good business case presents how a new solution will benefit the entire business. Don’t fall into the trap of just talking about how it will benefit the finance department, or those whose job titles specifically relate to ERP. The tools you want to acquire will benefit every single person in the company, and the case you make for this purchase needs to reflect that as fully as possible.

As you build your case, also think in terms of the things the C-suite needs, including:

  • Solving and helping already-identified and perceived problems
  • Overcoming macro-level challenges across the business
  • Helping the business compete with other key players in its market
  • Improving common finance KPIs—such as the cost of finance, time to process invoices, and days sales outstanding—against current benchmarks
  • Freeing up the finance team’s time to partner with other areas of the business, measuring non-financial KPIs which increasingly make up more of a company’s value
  • Recruiting and retaining talent, especially from younger generations

These points, when demonstrated clearly, help build a compelling—if not exciting—business case. But there’s one thing that the C-suite especially wants to see from you, and that’s cold, hard numbers showing exactly the kind of financial return and value that the business is likely to see from this new investment.

Forecasting ROI and Proving Your Investment’s Worth

Nothing wins the support and buy-in of senior executives quite like a detailed and accurate ROI forecast. By demonstrating that you have considered exactly how your investment will impact the company’s bottom line, you can make the decision to grant approval extremely simple.

When it comes to demonstrating the value of an ERP cloud investment, you need to think about a wide variety of factors, such as:

  • Capital expense cost savings associated with moving on-premises ERP solutions to the cloud
  • Lower operational expenses, reducing the need for expensive ERP support resources through increased automation and self-service tools
  • Process improvements using insight granted by new ERP analytics and business standards
  • Increased efficiency of individual processes, especially those primarily involving paper
  • Improved visibility of all ERP processes, which identifies further opportunities for cost savings
  • Less waste and improved control over budgets, procurement and projects

Independent ROI analysis firm Nucleus Research has clearly laid this groundwork for capital and operational expenses in their 2016 white paper, Cloud Delivers 2.1 Times More ROI. As the authors note, cloud ROI is determined by a wide range of different factors. Please note, when it comes to turning all the above points into actual numbers for your organization, you might consider the assistance of third-party experts with experience in preparing ROI forecasts for these kinds of investments.

Once you’ve secured your funding and executive buy-in, then it’s time to begin the process of selecting a partner and managing all the positive and exciting change that a new ERP system will bring.

For a complete checklist on moving to a new ERP, download “Plotting Your Path to Smarter ERP in the Cloud.”

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