How do I know my business partners are any good?

Your team are probably all very busy.

But how do you know whether they are busy fools.

Or focussed.

Efficient.

Making a genuine difference.

Here’s 3 things to look out for.

1. How much time do they spend at their desk?

Business partnering doesn’t happen in Excel or Powerpoint.

Nor at a desk.

Anyone at their desk looking at numbers all day is probably not a great finance business partner.

They won’t be influencing decisions, no matter how many Excel spreadsheets they produce or emails they send.

Emails are just about the worst way to communicate or influence.

Influence happens when you build relationships and translate data into insight.

When you show someone what has happened, why it has happened, and answer the all important question so what.

Data happens on a computer.

Insight and relationships happen face-to-face.

You want your finance partners to spend as much time as possible with the people you want them to influence.

And as little time as possible at their desks.

2. How well do they bring numbers to life?

If you want to influence people with numbers, you have to be able to bring them to life.

A table of numbers is the worst way to bring numbers to life.

20+ powerpoint slides is the second worst way to bring numbers to life.

How well do your business partners bring numbers to life?

Great data visualisation is a given.

Adding context gives numbers meaning and makes them more memorable.

The very best influencers are able to tell the story behind the numbers.

3. What decisions have they influenced lately?

The whole point of business partnering is to influence decisions.

If you’re not influencing decisions, you’re not business partnering.

And actually that’s the same whether you work in finance, HR, procurement, sales, marketing, IT, operations…

The single best question to ask your business partners, and in fact anyone, is:

What was the last decision you influenced?

This is probably the only question to ask them.

And don’t wait until the half year or annual review.

Ask them every time you see them.

Just asking this one question consistently could be enough to change the impact of your team.

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