During the second episode of Agile Mondays devoted to the topic of Agile Finance, together with John Mark Williams (CEO at Agile Business Consortium, UK) and Maria Cenusa (Innovation & Change Consultant at Integrated Consulting Group, Romania), we were discussing how to move Finance function in the organizations from Control function (we control the numbers; we give you the numbers) towards Partner function. Business should have real-time access to the information instead of depending on the finance departments. And the partnership between Business and Finance is possible when there are Trust and Transparency.

The idea of The Beyond Budgeting principles is a top-down approach, and control becomes devolved to those people who are closer to the customer to enable them to deliver increased customer value. That is empowerment, and it needs to be a is trust in the basis of this empowerment. And that trust can only come from a deep insight which the data provides. And Finance teams in some way are in the better position than somebody else in the organization because they’re not just able to produce data, especially when it’s done on the rolling data, so it’s getting closer to real-time; they are also in the best position to be able to interpret that data and feedback to the organization. And that is important the Finance is embedded in every part of the organization because that trust can then start becoming inherent everywhere. This leads to Transparency. Because the point of the data is that it needs to give information, and the more transparent things are within the organization, the more that data can be not just the visual but actually interpret it.

How to shift Finance function towards Partner function in practice?

This is a fundamental shift, a transformation that will not come overnight. From where most banks are currently are to where they would like to be – into a truly agile environment. These are the recommendations from our experts:

  • Not to try to move a bank away from its current controls, because in that case, the main principles the banks are currently founded may be challenged. The idea is to identify the number of people within the Finance function in the bank to have conversations on how they might become a finance business partner for other parts of the bank, so who from the Finance team can be embedded into the work of the Business team. What is also important is to define the right persons in the Business teams/Tribes for such communication as well, the ones who like to work with numbers, to understand what are the drivers from the finance perspective are the risks, how we measure them, what are the signals and triggers that we’re approaching the situation/results that we don’t want to have and when we should put in place some risk mitigation actions.
  • Sometimes it’s easier to start from informal. Just invite somebody from the Finance team to engage with the agile teams, like to come along to the stand-up or sprint review, and contribute to it. And that can be more formal and engaged in the future.
  • Try to build that kind of culture that we are collaborating; we’re not at the Business-Finance war for the budget. Just cooperate and drive the Trust and Transparency in the organization. There should not be a competition inside the bank, that’s enough competition outside the bank!

Watch the full episode below and join the next Talks on April 27 to learn about Agile in Risks.