AI Perspective: A CFO’s framework for AI strategy

As we delve deeper into our AI-focused series for finance, accounting, and technology leaders, it's imperative to remember the profound implications AI will have on the finance function. Drawing inspiration from our inaugural article, "AI Unleashed: A CFO's Guide to Harnessing its Potential," this piece offers a blueprint for CFOs to architect an AI strategy for finance.

Note: when referencing AI in this article, we include the various forms of technology, which include GenAI, machine learning, etc., that should all be considered as part of the AI strategy.

Here's our recommended 5-step approach to developing an AI strategy:

Step 1: Clarify Goals and Frameworks

When implementing AI and automation in general, having clarified goals and a solid vision is paramount to ensure a focused and effective approach. This foundation not only steers the direction but also aids in creating common objectives for all parties involved.

  • Vision & goals: Outline your overarching business purpose, goals, and those specifically for the finance departments. What do you need to do to unlock the most value?
  • Challenges: Recognize the chief obstacles and bottlenecks obstructing finance from achieving these goals.
  • AI’s Role: Envision how AI can bridge the gap between your current state and your goals.

During this phase, look to establish governance around AI. This is essential to ensure a structured, responsible, and compliant approach to its implementation:

  • Institute AI-related policies focusing on key areas, including usage and confidentiality.
  • Build a framework to vet and prioritize AI and automation opportunities (impact vs. effort)
  • Identify decision-makers concerning AI acquisitions and adding new functionalities.
  • Highlight compliance champions to oversee tools, ensuring they meet privacy, security, regulatory, and legal requirements.

Step 2: Gauge AI Preparedness

To truly harness AI's transformative potential, it's vital to critically assess your organization's readiness across various dimensions. Addressing these fundamental questions ensures a more seamless integration of AI:

  • Is your data of high quality and AI-accessible?
  • Is your technology stack, including ERPs and data infrastructure, compatible with AI tools?
  • Is your finance team and other stakeholder teams AI-ready in mindset and skill?
  • Do you understand the compliance, security, confidentiality, and regulatory impacts of using AI in your organization?

These elements are foundational to long-term AI achievements and will be explored further in an upcoming article in this series.

Step 3: Investigate AI Tools

Selecting the right AI tool is an important process that requires a blend of research and strategic insight. It's not just about choosing an advanced AI tool but finding one that resonates with your organization's specific needs and long-term objectives. Here's how you can make an informed decision:

  • Validate if the tool aligns with the objectives stipulated in Step 1.
  • Contrast vendors to determine the optimal fit.
  • Ascertain any prerequisites identified in step 2 that need addressing

Though the AI market is brimming with tools, many have a narrow usable scope. If no tools match your criteria currently, you may be best served by waiting or only adopting AI in a more limited capacity. Nonetheless, we strongly recommend you revisit this assessment every 3 months due to the rapid speed with which AI is evolving. Additionally, when considering technologies, be sure to evaluate:

  • 3rd party tools that can transform processes and bring new capabilities
  • Valuable GenAI productivity tools that can free up time and create capacity
  • Possible custom solutions leveraging a mix of existing technologies and new AI tools

Step 4: Action via Pilots

Upon identifying suitable AI tools, strategize their deployment. For a swift and effective roll-out, commence with a pilot or MVP (minimum viable product). This approach allows you to test the waters with select functionalities or a subset of users, learn from the experience, and then expand the initiative, integrating other AI solutions on your agenda. Additionally, sometimes a narrower use can help teach your organization many valuable lessons for later more robust and complex AI business transformations.

Step 5: Embrace Evolution and Innovation

Navigating the AI landscape requires an adaptive mindset and an unwavering commitment to evolution. As the realm of AI continues to burgeon, fostering a culture of continuous innovation and forward-thinking can set your organization on a path to harnessing AI's maximum potential. Here are ways to embrace this transformative journey:

  • Foster an innovation-centric ethos where teams constantly seek enhancement.
  • Encourage unconventional thinking and challenging the status quo.
  • Challenge individuals and teams to identify processes that can be optimized and scaled using AI.

Given AI's fluid nature, adopt an agile implementation strategy: prioritize swift value acquisition without overcomplicating designs and consistently refine based on real-world feedback. Continue to examine new and emerging GenAI technologies and productivity tools while encouraging users to share their best practices and learnings.

The AI frontier is as thrilling as it is challenging. Even if you're hesitant about AI now, having a strategy is paramount, given the tech's accelerated evolution. This ensures a focused approach, avoiding patchy tool adoption for trivial issues. Plus, as stakeholders and investors increasingly ask and even demand AI integration, a concrete strategy positions you a step ahead in addressing their queries, letting you dictate the narrative and timelines.

Engage with Connor Group for Tailored AI Strategies

For CFOs and finance executives seeking deeper insights or tailored guidance on integrating AI within their operations, Connor Group stands ready to assist. Our team possesses a unique blend of expertise across finance, technology, and AI, ensuring you navigate this transformative journey with confidence. Connect with us to harness the power and potential of AI for your organization.


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Jason Pikoos

Managing Partner

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Lauren Bowe