How to Get Stakeholder Buy-In for Payroll (or any) Software from Your CFO

Last updated on May 02, 2023

Stakeholder buy-in is so much more than just convincing those that hold the purse strings to part with their cash. It’s all about presenting the value of a particular project or investment, how it will help a particular team or the wider organisation do their jobs better, or the positive outcome it will achieve from a cost-saving, efficiency or ROI standpoint. 

The decision to invest in a piece of new software may need the input of several key stakeholders. This is especially true with something like payroll software - an investment that will simplify processes for so many, but that may involve significant behavioural and strategic changes within an organisation at its outset.

It’s worth noting that the day-to-day users of the software in question may not be the ultimate decision-makers. Indeed, it’s plausible that those decision-makers may not even see a demo of the software being signed off on. If this is the case, they will first assess if there is budget for software investment, then take the counsel of the end user as to its worth. This is where stakeholder buy-in comes into the equation.

In this blog, we’ll talk about how to engage with and gain buy-in from stakeholders, not just for payroll software but for any software investment that you feel will be of real use to you and your team.

What exactly do we mean when we say ‘stakeholder buy-in’?

Put simply, the concept of ‘stakeholder buy-in’ refers to convincing those responsible to sign off on a new initiative to give it the green light.

Effectively engaging with and then getting buy-in from stakeholders can be a challenge. After all, it’s more complex than ever trying to convince a budget holder to part with cash, given the current economic backdrop. 

Aside from budget holders, stakeholders may include your primary points of contact (i.e., your manager and team), plus other individuals and teams you will collaborate with on the project or who may use the software. As we’ll come onto later, building a support network of advocates for any software investment - including those who will use and benefit from it - is crucial for getting stakeholder buy-in.

Why is getting stakeholder buy-in so important?

Successfully convincing stakeholders as to the value and importance of a piece of software gives you a much greater chance of getting it signed off. Additionally, getting as many key players onboard as possible ensures everybody is aligned from the get-go, improving how it’s onboarded and, therefore, its long-term success. Conversely, a lack of stakeholder buy-in could mean that the software falls at the first hurdle.

From a slightly selfish standpoint, imagine being the one who convinced their organisation to invest in a new piece of software that goes on to be a success, improving processes and helping the company grow as a result. An initiative like that will win you plenty of friends at a more senior level, improving career opportunities down the line.

Key steps to gaining stakeholder buy-in

In order to get buy-in from stakeholders for any software investment, there are several steps you should take to make your case as watertight as can be. For this purpose, we’ll focus mainly on the example of payroll software

Identify ‘who’

Stakeholder engagement is fundamental to the success of any new software implementation. But it can often be difficult to identify, prioritise, and effectively engage a project's key players.

In the case of payroll software, it’s your company’s CFO who will be the stakeholder you need to engage with to reach the promised land. They’re the one you will need to convince from a budget holder’s perspective. You should also reach out to other members of the HR and finance team. Talk to them about their challenges and frustrations - for example, what would ‘great’ look like? It’s essential to gauge their appetite for a new approach, which leads us to our next step.

Build a network of advocates

A great way to get stakeholder buy-in is to join forces with your colleagues. After all, software like PayFit will benefit their day-to-day working lives just as much as it will your business as a whole. Finance, HR and people managers make for great partners in your quest to get your CFO on board with payroll software. For maximum impact, we recommend reaching out to those in a different team from yours.

After all, your CFO is more likely to give you the green light if they see how payroll software will benefit multiple closely related teams. This reduces the need to invest in lots of different tools and work-around solutions. On a similar note, it can also help you save time, especially if the software you’re considering provides payroll integrations with other solutions you use. 

Surrounding yourself with the support of your colleagues not only helps you to present a wider business case but also allows you to tap into additional people’s requirements. You’ll also, hopefully, be able to make use of the relationships they might have with other relevant stakeholders.

Growing your network of advocates in this way by talking to them about what you loved in your demo and using the information above to show them the benefits it will bring them gives you the best possible chance of getting buy-in from stakeholders.

It’s widely accepted that management buy-in is easier to gain when you have support from the people who will be using the software in question. So why not get some friends involved?

Understand the stakeholder’s frustrations & challenges

A stakeholder is far more likely to give their backing to a particular software investment if they feel that the process is a conversation rather than a one-way street. Getting them to open up about their frustrations with existing systems and processes, especially when it comes to time-consuming payroll tasks, will both make it easier to suggest a happier alternative (i.e., what you are pitching to them), as well as give them the confidence that they aren’t just being sold to.

Having the conversation will also reaffirm whether or not the software investment is the right one for you, your team and the wider business based on what the stakeholders in question will get out of it.

Be clear on what the expected outcomes and goals are

A successful stakeholder buy-in strategy relies on its champions to ensure they are clear on the goals of the investment. A budget holder will never sign off on a piece of software if they aren’t crystal clear on what the outcomes will be and how these align with the strategic aims of the organisation. So be sure to prepare a robust set of goals that you want to work towards, ones that ideally align with those of your team and the wider business. Even better, determine how those goals trickle down into the actual functionality you’ll need. Use this to make a ‘wish list’ of all the key features you want your next payroll software to have so you can benchmark different options against this.  

In the case of payroll software, a reasonable goal would be to reduce the risk of staff leaving the company as a result of being paid late or incorrectly, something that over 20% of British workers surveyed in this particular study have done in the past.

Be honest. Don’t overpromise

Related to the previous point, being honest with stakeholders from the outset ensures no nasty surprises later down the line and will help the project actually achieve its aims. This ,in turn, will improve your chances of getting buy-in for future software initiatives.

Have an understanding of the cost vs. benefits

For the CFO, it’s all about ROI. For every pound spent, they will want to know what they will get back in return. But this might not necessarily be limited just to cash - although it’s an important consideration. 

You’ll want to have a good understanding of how a particular investment will deliver efficiencies in terms of time and resource, as well as money. For example, payroll software might not be much cheaper than using an accountant. In fact, it may, in fact, be more expensive. But the reduced time, decrease in stress levels and error rates could make it worth your while. Plus, more payroll data visibility could be invaluable for the long-term success and growth of your organisation.

Let’s make your payroll software search a success!

At PayFit, we understand that software can be a tricky investment decision. 

No matter how big or small your company is, there will always be a few hurdles you’ll need to jump before making the switch. The benefits, however, can be transformational - saving your organisation up to 80% of the time you normally spend on payroll.

From the first touchpoint to the last, we’ve designed our product exploration process to take this into account. You’ll get to speak to experienced product (and payroll!) specialists specially trained to identify and address your organisation’s unique payroll problems and deliver tailored demos that show you exactly how PayFit can or can’t help. 

Our goal is to help you identify whether or not payroll software will be the right answer to your problems and support you in your quest for a better solution.

Ready to kickstart your payroll software search? Click the button below to begin your enquiry today.

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