Shall we dance? Business partnering for Chief Financial Officers
Health Headlines - September 2010
Value for money, collaboration, more for the same amount and innovation are all terms you would have heard being used a lot, and with good reason. District Health Boards and other organisations within the health sector have been challenged by the National lead Government to provide better services, in a more timely and convenient manner, within existing budget constraints. Subsequently, organisations within the sector have had to re-evaluate their strategies and become innovative in the way they conduct day-to-day business, and how they develop relationships with a variety of stakeholder groups. This has encouraged sector wide collaboration and partnerships to be forged between different departments within organisations and for these organisations to be innovative in how they adapt to change. We are witnessing greater exploration of shared services and public-private partnership opportunities, and members of executive teams working more closely with clinicians to solve complex problems within organisations.
Despite some organisations embracing collaboration and innovation, there are still a lot of untapped benefits which can be achieved if these concepts are more widely adopted. If you want to be part of an organisation which embraces change and is the standard by which others evaluate themselves, then collaboration, partnering and innovation are all avenues which you should explore. There is no guarantee that you will be able to find another appropriate business to collaborate or partner with. However, you can be certain that an organisational culture which embraces innovation, collaboration and partnering will ensure your organisation is able to not only reduce cost and provide exceptional service, but also solve complex problems in ways which are much more effective.
The article ’Dancing lessons - Business partnering for CFOs’ focuses on how CFOs can develop successful partnerships in order to deliver true value to the organisation. The article provides hints and tips about how to be more innovative and encourage collaboration. There are learnings and action steps presented throughout the article that would be useful for anyone within an organisation, so it is a must read for all CXOs and managers.
Dancing lessons - Business partnering for CFOs
The article proposes several ways in which CFOs and their finance teams can increase the value they add to their organisation by partnering with other departments to deliver solutions. The relevance of this article to organisations within the health sector is enormous. The article highlights how better solutions are delivered when decision makers seek the advice of their colleagues at different levels throughout the organisation. For example, if a DHB’s Chief Finance Officer and their finance team worked closely with clinicians throughout the organisation to reduce cost, the finance team would better understand the flow on effects of their decisions, and clinicians would get a better understanding of the drivers of cost. The solution derived would then not only reduce cost, but do so without jeopardising the safety or level of service provided to patients. Partnering relationships like these provide each party with an in-depth understanding of each others’ objectives, encourage each party to buy-into the success of the project and ensure that the project is pragmatic and more easily implementable. As a result, the chance of a project providing the desired outcomes is doubled.
Relevant to all members of the executive team, the article highlights a number of ideas which can be used in many different circumstances. Below is a brief summary of key points:
- Business partnering is a smart way to change how the rest of the organisation perceives you - people want to be listened to and only want help from people who truly understand the issues they face. We challenge you to identify three areas within your organisation where a strong business partnership could deliver immediate value, and then to take these key stakeholders to coffee. This will allow you to gain more traction by giving you the opportunity to listen to their issues, while allowing them to put a face to a name.
- Successful business partnering takes a lot of work and people with the right personality and attitude - the typical finance person is not tasked with building partnerships. So go the extra mile to identify team members who have the right stuff to build partnerships, because you only need a few to make a big impact. The most desirable personality attributes in a business partner are experience, curiosity, capacity for surprise, courage, ethical standards and being open and accessible. So have a look at your team, see who has these attributes, and give them the mandate and resource to develop business partnerships.
- Business leaders expect finance departments to get close to the business by both working in the field and in the office next door - the active learning that comes out of physical proximity is invaluable. Move close to the group you are trying to partner with. In fact we challenge you to move your office for three months. For example, if you are trying to reduce cost in a particular service then physically move your desk next to that of the clinicians you are trying to work with. That way you can bounce ideas off each other, you are always available, you can physically see how processes work and you have a greater chance of developing meaningful relationships and buy-in from these key stakeholders.
- It is vital to quantify the outcomes of the business relationship - this is because each party needs to be able to analyse whether the time which they invest in the business partnership is worthwhile. However, do not only think of quantifying these outcomes in monetary terms, think about other metrics which you are trying to improve, for example, patient and staff satisfaction.
We have only given you a brief taste of the insights which this article provides. We hope you enjoy the article and that it provokes thought and action about how you can partner with other parts of your organisation. After all, you are all trying to work together to achieve one common objective.