Successful Finance Business Partnering

What are the most successful strategies for finance business partnering?

At the start of the year I like to set out the strategies that have been most successful for our clients over the previous year in delivering business benefits from finance partnering.

I thought I’d share these strategies with you in the hope you’ll find them useful in some way in your company. If you do, please let me know.

Having specialised in helping Finance Directors with business partnering for several years now, I’ve seen most permutations of strategies that work, and those that don’t work.

So, what are the most successful Business Partnering strategies?

  1. Value Priority Strategies – explicitly identifying and prioritising the most valuable business decisions for Finance Partners to focus on and, most importantly, agreeing these value priorities with your business colleagues.
  2. Capacity Strategies – re-setting the agenda of business partners to free-up time to specialise in challenging and influencing business decisions, and not focus on generating regular reports or other cyclical finance activities.
  3. Capability Strategies – being crystal clear about the roles, skills and career paths in ‘Business Finance’; appointing and hiring based on capabilities, not just re-branding and re-shuffling your existing teams; and providing skills training through ‘business partnering journeys’ that ground the training in the business decision priorities in your company.

Clearly there’s a lot more detail behind these strategies. I’ll be digging into each of them over the coming weeks to provide you with practical tips and advice on how to implement these strategies in your finance organisation.

We’ve helped many companies to deliver tens of millions of pounds of business benefits through successful business partnering. The key to success is to implement improvements in all three of the strategy areas.

Sadly, I’ve seen too many companies muddle their way through business partnering. Re-organising every couple of years, running generic training courses for business partners, and re-designing finance processes to free up time, in the hope this will automatically lead to better business partnering (it doesn’t by the way!).

Our research shows that less than 25% of companies deliver business value from their business partnering efforts. And that’s because business partnering in Finance is a lot harder than most Finance Directors expect.

It’s a really easy concept to understand, but it turns out to be very hard to deliver business benefits.

Adrian Willmott,
Managing Director, Arcus Consulting
t: +44 (0) 207 608 5096

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