finance business partnering survey

Perspectives

Driving the Future of Finance: Strategic finance business partnering

Key findings from this year’s study

Our first edition of Deloitte’s Driving the Future of Finance survey, published in August 2017, revealed that the finance functions of Swiss-based companies have already transitioned to a more strategic role. Building upon this, we conducted this year’s survey by collecting insights from 37 finance executives across industries. We found evidence that most organisations are well aware of the necessity for such a shift. However, only a small fraction have succeeded in implementing business partnering effectively. Instead, their business partners still perform mainly repetitive and time-consuming tasks. How can companies support their business partners to focus on high value tasks? Besides the standardisation of reports, the application of digital technologies as well as fostering skills and capabilities emerge as effective means to enable business partners to act as strategic advisors to the business.

Driving the Future of Finance survey

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The strategic focus of the finance function is shifting from operational to business finance.

  • Organisations have anticipated the growing need to establish their finance function focussing on business finance
  • Three-fourths of survey participants perceive finance as primary source of insight for decision-making
  • As a result, most of the organisations have embedded business partnering in their finance operating model

Calendar-based activities are highly prioritised activities for business partners, however business partners are still burdened with low-value tasks

  • Forward-looking activities are priority activities for business partners
  • One-fifth of finance capacity is currently spent on insightful activities only, while the majority is still focused on processing data and producing routine reports
  • In order to meet the demand of insightful finance, organisations will need to enable their Business Partners to focus on activities that result in strategic insight

Importance of digital technologies understood but the benefits still need to be realised

  • The majority indicates that offline spreadsheets and ad-hoc reporting are still common practices
  • One-third of companies do not yet leverage digital technologies to support business partnering activities
  • Limited application of digital tools and standard reporting are key hindrances for business partners to focus on high-value activities

Companies provide their Business Partners with development support initiatives

  • Training, workshops and mentorship are common support initiatives that companies implement to develop their Business Partners’ capabilities
  • Despite the support initiatives, companies seem to lack a fundamental element – clear definitions of business partnering that are consistently applied
  • Moreover, technology limitations, inefficient processes and lack of appropriate skills emerge as key challenges for business partners to focus on high-value activities
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