Is Automation part of your 2021 budget?
AI & Automation projects are continuing to gain momentum. In recent years, more CFO’s and financial leaders are turning to AI & automation as a key driver of cost savings. This is now becoming a hot topic as leaders are finding ways to add these solutions in their 3-5 year business plans.
Many organizations have already found early success in automating redundant but necessary tasks such as data entry, document processing, medical coding, as well as other time-consuming areas of their operations. These types of projects are often the first steps in an organization’s AI journey as these types of successful projects open up other automation opportunities and expansions in current project scope.
CFO’s are now looking at how they can use AI and Machine Learning to automate areas of their own department such as the month-end close process, collections, payables, and budgeting for additional time and cost savings.
The reason for the interest in these projects is simple – a one-time project cost that will return perpetual savings. Most of the heavy lifting for AI/ML projects is done up front. This includes gathering the data, building the actual machine learning model, testing the accuracy and putting it into production. Once in production, stakeholders are able to realize cost savings almost immediately and in many cases they are able to recoup their initial project costs within the first 3-6 months.
Where to Start?
One of the first questions that is often asked when exploring AI and automation projects is where to start? As an organization, you have to identify the best use cases for AI so you can start off with some easy wins. Some questions you might want to ask are:
- What areas of my current processes or workflows are redundant, but necessary? These could be things such basic document review, matching purchase orders to checks or using systems that require lots of clicks to get you where you need to go.
- Identifying things where if I made them “just a little better” would have a huge impact? These could be things like speeding up response times to include recommendations in order to make decisions, or reducing downtime for maintenance or repairs.
- How accurate or reliable is my data? This is a key component for many AI and automation solutions to be successful. If the data is messy, not correctly labeled, or stale, your model will not perform well.
Sometimes finding answers to these questions can be challenging, especially in regards to the data. If you are struggling to find a good use case, have questions on your data, or just not sure what AI tools you will need for your project, we recommend starting out with an assessment before diving into your first project.
An initial automation assessment can identify the best use cases for applying AI and give you an “AI project roadmap” along with cost estimates, project timelines and potential ROI for these projects. This will allow you to prioritize your projects and include them in your overall business plan.