A senior Finance Director recently asked me why his Finance organisation isn’t ‘working’. “Why aren’t we delivering more value into the business?”
“I’m sure I’ve got the right organisation structure, and some pretty good people. But we’re just not having an influence on the performance of the business. Why not? What’s wrong?”
The Finance Director was Greg, a divisional FD of a large bank. When we took a good look at Greg’s organisation he certainly had many of the right components in place:
- Greg had segmented finance roles into Business Partnering and Reporting & Analysis
- He had good business management information, and
- He’d delivered some business partner training.
Greg had defined the WHAT of his Finance organisation – the structure and the roles – but he just hadn’t got into the details of HOW his organisation should work in practice:
- HOW each business partner should work with their respective business management team
- HOW to measure the value each business partner delivers to the business
- HOW finance partners should really spend their time
- HOW to measure the contribution from the Reporting & Analysis team, and how to prioritise their work according to business value
- HOW to develop specific skills for each business partner – Business Skills, such as commercial pricing or product knowledge, or Engagement Skills, such as influencing business colleagues
- HOW to engage the business leaders in prioritising what finance partners should focus on.
As a consequence each business partner was working in their own unique way, often in silos with their respective business colleagues. Some were adding business value, but most were not.
A handful of Greg’s finance partners were ‘natural leaders’ and successful. But many of them spent the bulk of their time producing unnecessary analysis or ‘churning out the numbers’ and generating reports, despite what the organisation charts said.
So Ask Yourself:
- Have you really defined the HOW of my finance organisation in detail, and is it implemented consistently across my teams?
- Or, have you got stuck on the WHAT?
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