4 Indicators That You Are On The Right Track As A Business Partner

In Finance and other functional professions like IT, HR and Procurement, business partnering is becoming more common.

The idea behind business partnering is that your role changes.

Less time is spent on routine activities and more is spent on added value activities.

What this might mean on a practical level is that:

  • Finance partners play a bigger role in shaping strategy.
  • IT professionals spend more time helping users get optimal benefit from technology
  • HR professionals playing a bigger role in getting the best from the workforce.
  • Procurement changing and positively influencing purchasing decisions made by individuals in the organisation.

So what indicators might you use to give a sense that you are on the right track as a business partner?

You are contributing beyond your area of professional expertise

You are always going to have your area where you are the expert and have a depth of knowledge.

Your value really comes when you can contribute much more broadly.

Even seeing opportunities to contribute to the success of other business partners in other areas.

You are being consulted earlier and more

One of the big challenges and frustrations among functional professionals is that they are either not consulted or consulted too late.

This is particularly apparent with things like business cases or business development initiatives.

If you are being consulted at the outset and more frequently, this is a real sign that you are making progress as a business partner.

There’s a noticeable shift in the time spent working with the business

Many functional professionals have business partnering in their job description.

Often the amount of time they spend working with the business is comparatively low.

Once you start to see at least a 50:50 split between the time you spend on the routine and the time you spend on working with the business, you know you are on the right track.

You are providing more and better insights

Good insightful ideas and information make others stop, think and reflect.

They may even find that they result in a change of direction when really powerful.

You can usually tell by the action that follows whether you are providing more and better insights.

You are seen as an equal

Most of organisations have a hierarchy of some sort.

When you are seen as a peer rather than just an expert then you know that you are making progress as a business partner.

In truth being an effective business partner is always work in progress.  At the same time your outlook and approach play a big part in your success.

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About the Author Duncan Brodie

Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 8,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.

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1 comment
Jimoh Ololade says 23 November 2021

I quite agree with all of your points and particularly that FBPs should be seen as peer to presumably the service managers/directors they are supporting. I recently finished my DBA on FBP in relation to their strategic support to the senior management in their strategic decision making process. The organisation is highly hierarchical with greater power-distance ideology. The FBPs in this organisation are middle level officers, therefore, they have little or no access to the senior executives. More often than not, these senior executives are making financial/investment decisions without input from the FBPs with disastrous result. Also, accountants are mostly technically qualified and competent but they are not necessarily cut out to be competent FBPs and many may not provide required support and in most cases they lack commercial knowledge of the service units they are supporting. Few of my recommendations for FBPs in order to be effective are: to learn and be actively involved in the operations of the services they are supporting thereby acquiring knowledge and possibly transfer accounting knowledge to the managers as well. They should have ability to scan the environment (identifying risks and opportunities) and as you have stated turn numbers into in-sight by analysing data using the historical data to predict future. Also, ability to network with senior management where they can acquire vital information that will assists them in providing effective support to their business units managers/directors. Also, I recommended to the case organisation I used for my doctorate degree that FBPs should be regraded to Directors to align with the head of services they are supporting thereby enabling them to access all necessary information and data. Finally, I believe in FBPs to be nearer or situated in the service centres they are supporting rather than located in the headquarters with limited access to the data and information.

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