Implementing business partnering
Implementing business partnering is tough. Almost half of Dutch businesses struggle with this, according to executives surveyed for this report. That the finance function lacks influence among the broader business is cited by more than a quarter (27%) of Dutch executives as the main barrier to effective business partnering, closely followed by insufficient resources (21%), difficulty in finding candidates with the right experience (20%) and insufficient support from senior management (19%).
Although skills shortages are a major part of the problem, companies also face specific organisational, cultural and leadership challenges. Routine transactional work can still take up valuable time that could otherwise be spent on more value-added partnering. Many finance departments are still geared to number-crunching activities. Others struggle with inadequate technology. And some are constantly consumed in fire-fighting. “When you are tied up working on operational issues that need to be dealt with right away, it means key, longer-term, value-added activities can get neglected,” says André Oerlemans, the CFO of Weight Watchers Benelux.
The burden on the finance function has been partially lifted by shared services that take on many of the department’s routine tasks. More needs to happen here. When asked about the top three organisational changes that would enable business partnering to flourish in their organisation, the largest number of respondents answered the establishment, or increased use of, shared service centres (21%). These can be used to handle commoditised finance tasks, such as accounts payable, accounts receivable or payroll, removing this burden from core finance staff and enabling them to concentrate on more value-added activities.