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6 Steps to Adopting New Financial Technologies

New financial technology hits the market every day, each innovation promising to do great things for your business—increase efficiency, streamline cash flow, improve customer experience, you name it. 


New financial technology hits the market every day, each innovation promising to do great things for your business—increase efficiency, streamline cash flow, improve customer experience, you name it. 

Choosing the best technology for your company can be mind-boggling. CFOs must evaluate efficiency and productivity gains against factors like cost and platform compatibility. They must wade through dozens of solutions, many offering similar benefits. And they must do so knowing their competitors are also evaluating new tech options—each looking to gain an advantage in the efficiency arms race.

The trick is to not focus on the glitter of promise but on your business’s need. And then, once you’re confident you have the right tech, to take steps to ensure it will be used successfully.  

Carefully consider the steps in this guide as you embark on the journey to discover, evaluate and adopt new digital solutions for your business. 

 

Technology Surge icon

Technology Surge

Global fintech investments in 20181

$55.3B


5,779

Fintech startups in the Americas2

 

Step 1: Identify the problem you most need to solve.

Some fintech solutions tackle several challenges at once. Others target narrow problems.  The first step toward bringing new technology into your business is defining which problem you’re actually out to solve. 

WHAT TO DO: Craft a clear problem statement to create alignment on your team. This is the lens through which you can narrow your field of options.


WHY IT MATTERS

Diagnosing the problem correctly is essential to any tech project’s success. The narrower the problem, the more likely a simple, less costly solution may do the trick. Of course, you may find the issues are bigger than you thought—an important thing to discover prior to making a significant investment.

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Step 2: Determine what success means and how you’ll measure it.

Once you know the problem, you need to identify clear metrics for success. Tech bells and whistles can be dazzling, but all that pales in comparison to meeting your defined goals and targets. 

WHAT TO DO: Choose the right key performance indicators (KPIs) for assessing your technology.

HOW TO DO IT 

Think data. The best KPIs are quantifiable—for example: extracting three days out of your working capital cycle, saving $5,000 per month on payment processing or reducing the number of errors per 10,000 invoices. While anecdotal evidence can provide much-needed context for why a technology works, it’s unreliable as a true measuring stick. 

Not sure which KPIs to use? Consult your banker, fintech vendor or other partners with industry-specific expertise. And be sure your KPIs can be directly attributed to your new technology and not diluted by other factors. 

WHY IT MATTERS

Putting in the work to track your progress carefully will allow you to fine-tune the implementation of new tech—a process that can become complicated and frustrating when based on faulty assumptions—and  will help inform future investments.

 

 

Step 3: Educate yourself on available technologies and how they apply to your industry.

Google “financial technologies” and you’ll find no shortage of information—most of it focused on the disruptive potential of fintech. While information is great, too much information can be paralyzing. 

WHAT TO DO: Talk with partners and peers to learn about possible use cases and early trends in your industry.

HOW TO DO IT 

This doesn’t have to be a solo mission. Reach out to product partners, bankers and vendors to learn which technologies are solving problems like yours. Within the tightknit CFO community, your peers are an invaluable resource. Many are happy to share what’s working for  them and which best practices they’ve picked up along  the way. Their hands-on experience and unfettered opinions are what you need to weed out the nonperformers and narrow your search. 

Check out industry conferences. Events like the AFP Annual Conference and Money20/20 bring together finance and fintech leaders to discuss what’s next in the technology ecosystem. Attending tech-focused workshops and lectures can reveal surprising, new solutions that address your problems. 


Ultimately, it’s best to narrow your choices to a few options that you can evaluate in more detail. 

WHY IT MATTERS

Every business is constrained by resources. Running technologies through your litmus test of questions will help you prioritize—and may also introduce new challenges, leading  to additional opportunities for  you to consider. 

 

 

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Step 4: Evaluate whether these technologies offer a realistic way of achieving your goals. 

No two businesses are alike. A specific technology may streamline a competitor’s payments processes yet not move the needle for you. 

WHAT TO DO: Create a process for evaluating how a technology will perform across your lines of business.


WHY IT MATTERS

Slow down to go fast. Once you start integrating a solution, there’s no undo button. Only a thorough evaluation will help you find the right technology and understand potential risks before you commit.

 

Step 5: Adopt and test technologies within your business model.

There are many approaches to adopting new technologies, such as “big bang” (all at once), phased (gradual) and parallel (running old and new systems simultaneously). Your approach will likely depend on the size of your business, your industry, your immediate and future needs, the complexity of the project and your organization’s readiness for change. 

WHAT TO DO: Create and execute an adoption plan suited to your business and your people.

HOW TO DO IT 

Take a page from the tech startup playbook. Many startups begin with a minimum viable product (MVP). In this approach, the solution launches with only the most essential features necessary to see whether it’s viable and likely to catch on. The advantage? You use as few resources as possible. You get to test the solution at minimal risk while gaining knowledge that allows you to iterate until you get the results you want. After the initial MVP phase, you can roll it out across your business or expand functionality to solve more complex problems. 

Engage your bankers early. They can help you implement solutions that play nicely with your current platforms and scale with you as you grow. Your banker can also help  you craft phased strategies that address different parts  of your financial ecosystem over, say, a two-year period. 


WHY IT MATTERS

New technologies invariably disrupt your workflow. Minimizing these disruptions will help you stay focused on your execution plan and help  your teams feel better about the  new tech—yielding faster, more successful adoption. 

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Step 6: Measure and learn.

This might sound surprising, but adoption is closer to the beginning of your journey than  it is to the end. Adoption is putting on your shoes. Now you’ve got to run the race. You’ll want to pay close attention so that you stay in your lane and don’t drift off the track.  

WHAT TO DO: Measure your progress, evaluate the ROI, learn from the results, continually improve.

HOW TO DO IT 

Revisit your KPIs. Your KPIs will help you gauge whether the solution is solving your core problem. To ensure precision, test against different scenarios and accurately measure all the inputs. Avoid assumptions, correlations  or anecdotal evidence that isn’t based on hard data. If you’re meeting your KPIs, consider other use cases or adding new functionality..

WHY IT MATTERS

No technology rollout is perfect the  first time. You may not meet your payment goals right away, but with the right testing, you’ll have an idea of which iterations to make. If you assess and evaluate regularly, you‘ll stay in tune with your needs. Which is important, because your next best technology may be coming soon. 

Find this guide helpful? 

Turn to your banker for more insights. 

Evaluating and adopting new financial systems might seem daunting, but you don’t have to go it alone. Your banking partner should be ready with knowledge of the latest fintech solutions, eager to help guide you in assessing your current operations and provide resources to help implementation go smoothly.

 

1.Accenture analysis of fintech investment data from CB Insights, February 25, 2019.
2.Statista, “Dossier on Fintech,” 2019
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