Business partnering - five steps to get you started

1. Define your objectives

As every company is unique, defining what business partnering means to your organisation and what the leadership aims to achieve is the first step to an effective implementation. Changing for the sake of changing is not an option – it is essential to establish specific inter-departmental objectives that align with overall business strategy.

2. Conduct a skills audit

Assess the competencies that already exist in-house, establishing which team members bring not only the requisite technical and soft skills, but also the business acumen and communication proficiency necessary to partner with other business units. Understanding your internal client and their aims for business partnering will serve as a road map for the finance team. Developing your talent through mentorship programmes, professional development and leadership training can help identify those potential business partners you may have overlooked.

3. Perform a systems and process review

Once the right talent is identified, it is essential that they have access to the necessary information and reports that will allow them to provide added value. Understanding each department’s objectives and providing data to support key initiatives and goals will help bridge the gap between finance and the rest of the business.

4. Engage a temporary solution

An interim manager can help your company manage the transformation to a business partnering environment or assist with its ongoing execution. Temporary staff can also mentor employees or help manage the backlog of the day-to-day work while the initiative is underway. Our Robert Half Management Resources consultants work with companies to help determine the scope and desired outcome of the project while identifying senior experts with the right skills and experience for a successful business partnering implementation.

5. Identify external talent

Sourcing external talent for business partnering roles can be challenging as until recently. Hiring managers therefore need to critically examine candidates’ previous experience and how they have gained commercial insights with their previous employer. Look for candidates with strong data manipulation, financial analysis and controlling expertise, along with effective interpersonal and communication skills.

In the interview, consider situational and competency-based scenarios. Asking how the candidate would explain technical accounting to a non-financial audience will help assess their ability to work with various departmental teams. Furthermore, providing candidates a case study example of how finance can partner with the IT or HR department will help determine their ability to think quickly and strategically, while observing their step-by-step approach to the situation.

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