“The Daf “business partner” is far from a reality in all companies” : From the introduction, Sébastien Cannizzo, partner at Deloitte, set the tone for the workshop “Future of… Business Partner”, organized on the occasion of the Future of Finance event. This is actually not about gargling Daf’s strategic position, the daily manager’s right-hand man and the company’s conductor. “There is, of course, a participation of financial management in the strategy, but it is not standardized or structured”, notes Sébastien Cannizzo. So what to do? How do you win this place in the eyes of the day-to-day manager, but also in the business lines?
“Being entangled in the organization”
For many of the present Daf, the solution comes from the teams, and in particular their place in the company. Agnès Balrick-Bulidon, finance and transformation director of the Daher group, says she has decentralized the management controllers to the company. “Decentralizing them physically has brought them closer to the operating staff. It makes it possible to go beyond pure production and really support projects“she explains.
Frédéric de Castro, Chief Financial Officer of Etam believes that it is necessary “being entangled in the organization”. “We are in daily contact with the business units for questions about means of payment, risk, insurance, contract etc…”, he continues. But how can one go further and not only secure these supreme functions with the subjects?
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Pedagogy and simplification
First, it might be helpful to understand what the operating staff expects of the finance function. Olivier Irisson, chief operating officer and director of financial operations at BPCE, estimates that financial management is expected in the form of education. “We must give companies the opportunity to understand the financial aggregates in which they develop, and especially the standards”he says.
A pedagogy that can only be done if the economic models are simplified, according to Agnès Balrick-Bulidon (Daher): “The trend in the last few months is to return to simpler models to both be more agile, but also to be able to explain them better“, she says. The goal is therefore to regularly ask yourself what this or that process is used for, whether it is usable, what strategy it is used for, etc… And stop the accumulation of procedures that the business areas find both useless and time-consuming. .
On the other hand, technological advances are not seen as tools that enable CFOs to anticipate a place for “business partners” in their company. “We all want a giant “data lake” with all customers, all previous transactions, amounts with comparable data, etc… To then be able to “google” it. But that will never happen”, points out Frédéric de Castro (Etam). For him, not only will technologies never be able to achieve such results, but furthermore, high-performance solutions are expensive to implement, while finance departments are asked to reduce their operating costs.“The fully automatic, where a machine manages to draw conclusions about complex and developing situations, seems utopian to me. You must know how to make decisions with partial information and use your good judgmentaccording to his knowledge of the subject”he advises.
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In the same direction, Olivier Irisson (BPCE) invites. “of natural stupidity before adopting artificial intelligence”. “If the finance department is not considered a ‘business partner’, it is because it does not always understand what the companies are doing or gives wrong answers to their questions. To be a ‘business partner, you have to be competent”, he notes. He assesses that further artificial intelligence will never do much more than partially automate the value chain. “This is not what will help financial management to become a business partner”He decides.
On the other hand, he believes that a salvation lies on the side of the data. “The finance department has the data. We can help companies use data intelligently“, he believes. It therefore invites you to understand the strategic and operational issues in your company and to create a connection to finance and relevant indicators. “We can be “business partners” by providing certified data that combines financial and extra-financial”he adds.
This means that financial management teams must be able to build quality data. “Instead of talking about artificial intelligence, economics needs to integrate mathematical models more than ever. Which means we no longer need the same skills.”, he asserts. In his team, he counts few people from pure finance but mostly people from digital and risk. At Daher, Agnès Balrick-Bulidon will be looking for collaborators within engineers and IT. “And vice versa. We have to work with the subject transverse to internal mobility“she notes.
On the other side of the fence
Frédéric de Castro (Etam) thinks so. the bridge between finance and business remains complicated. “The development from a management controller to a country manager is complexhe notes. The daf still remains on the other side of the barrier, because even if he develops into a project manager, the controlling facet remains, a teacher of lessons.”. Agnès Balrick-Bulidon (Daher) recognizes that if there are natural links to engineering and IT, it is more difficult to develop her teams in more operational directions. But all the Daf present made sure we were still on the right track.