By Daniel Hunter
Organisations are increasingly seeking support from finance in decision making, which has resulted in a rise in demand for finance business partnering activities over the past two years.
However, Deloitte’s annual survey of 75 senior financial officers indicates that over half of organisations do not consistently use the insight produced by the finance business partners for decision-making**. While over half the respondents’ views finance as a source of trusted financial information, only 8% of organisations consider this output as their primary source of insight.
Finance has the opportunity to use the wealth of data available to challenge decision-making in the business. The survey findings indicate they are not making the most of this opportunity, with 42% of finance functions having provided data in significant detail, but with limited context. This restricts the amount of guidance business partners can give back to their businesses and the impact they have on decision making.
Malcolm Wilkinson, finance business partnering lead at Deloitte, says: “There is a big difference between simply providing data, and giving insight and guidance. Many finance business partners currently focus their efforts on providing a good service in the eyes of the business. To provide true insight and fulfil their finance responsibilities they must also provide an independent challenge, based on a clear understanding of the true drivers of business performance.”
Deloitte’s analysis has shown that organisations whose business partners have clearly defined roles are much more likely to develop and retain the skills required to guide, influence and challenge the business. Despite a link between clarity of roles and the required skills, 45% of finance functions have no definition for the role of their decision support teams and business partners. In addition, only 5% of respondents apply the definition they do have across the business.
Wilkinson concludes: “Clearly defining the finance business partnering role, including the requirement to challenge the business, is essential. That clarity enables alignment of expectations with the business, increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of finance business partners, as well as supporting their personal development and satisfaction with the role.”
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