If you are working as a Management Accountant, your role is critical to the success of any organization. You are a key member of the team and you need to have a seat at the table for decision making. You need to have a good understanding of accounting principles and policies that your company has adopted. You need to have unquestionable integrity and most importantly, you must be an excellent business partner.
In my career, I have worked in several different accounting and finance roles in a few different organizations and I have noticed the really successful team members all are able to excel at the key items noted above. In this article, I will explore how you can be an excellent business partner.
Business partnering as a management accountant is a function where you, as a management accountant can add a lot of value to an organization. Business partnering takes many forms but first and foremost, to be an effective business partner, you need to immerse yourself in the “business” of the department or team or organization you are supporting. You need to spend time understanding the key goals of the organization you support as well as the key hurdles that stand in the way of achieving those goals. You need to be able to understand the discreet data sources that help your business partners to manage their departments. You need to be able to link the goals and hurdles to financial and non-financial metrics that can be measured on a periodic basis. Business partnering is a key skill to have as a management accountant and once you understand the business you are supporting, you can start adding value by helping the team by providing guidance and by providing reports to help measure key items of the organization's performance. Ultimately, business partnering is about building relationships within the organization you support and helping the overall organization by providing value added information to help achieve the key goals of the organization.
If you are an excellent business partner, you will always have a seat at the table for key decisions and you will be able to advise and help the organization to make decisions with the best possible financial outcome. Attending meetings that your business partners hold will help you to be able to immerse yourself in their “business”. Initially you may not be able to add value during those sessions, but listen with a keen ear and as you learn about the area you support, you will be able to point out areas of opportunity and help your business partners work through challenges they face. For example, if there is a business opportunity that your organization is exploring, you can volunteer to collect data on the opportunity and provide a concise summary of what the opportunity is and how your organization can capitalize on it and finally present the long term financial impact of the same. Find a way to immerse yourself in your organizations business by reading articles about your key competitors, customers and industry in general. The more knowledge you have about the business you support, the stronger business partner you become. Most importantly, if you are a good business partner, not only will you be able to add value, but you too will be valued by the organization you support.