Finance Business Partners are like many other support specialists extremely “time-poor.” Given the highly presurised weekly and monthly cycles that most work under, it’s all too easy to get sucked into the act of just “doing” as opposed to thinking and then influencing strategically. Our work at PPI with many functions reveals some key action points for finance professionals to look out for and execute.
1. Think Customers and Shareholders / Stakeholders and business first and finance second – remember we all work for an owner of one sort or another – are you focused on serving the right customers in your organisation?
2. All your data has both integrity and reliability – “one version of the truth” is the first route to your brand credibility as a finance professional and function
3. Well presented information and analysis. Ensure your financial reports are not excessively detailed or chunky that they deliver little value or aren’t even read
4. Standardize. Push for agreed report formats as opposed to producing excessive numbers of tailored reports – try to eradicate the “copying, cutting and pasting” regime
5. Challenge unnecessary requests for more analysis and data if you don’t see the business justification or need. Be service focused but not subservient! Requests that play into the “self-oriented” or political agendas of some leaders or managers should be challenged and resisted
6. Meet a clear business need. Design every financial report you produce to drive and deliver a clear business decision and action. Kill reports that don’t meet this outcome
7. Network and interact. Get out of your office more and regularly meet key customers, leaders and operational managers to discuss their “stay awake at night” issues!
8. Ask for feedback. Seek feedback on your services and outputs from your key customers – are you adding value and delivering what your customers need? Can you improve existing reports or services based on their feedback? Remember It’s the quality of your relationship with key players that will ultimately determine your personal success. Quality time spent with any internal customer is never wasted
9. Manage your brand. Communicate and explain your priorities and what you are doing as a finance function
10. Focus on the essential. Possess a laser like focus on Sales, Cash, Margin, Stock and Customer Service and educate everyone in the company around how these critical elements work together to either create business value or destroy it!
Mark Thomas is our Business Partner and Internal Consultancy, Practice Leader. He has led many Finance Business Partner development programmes and workshops around the world with many leading businesses and corporations. To learn more about our work in this area contact Gerry Buckley at email@example.com.