There is growing acknowledgement that modern organisations need a finance team which operates collaboratively alongside other professionals; which is seen as a positive advocate of change, not a risk-averse blocker of actions perceived as uncertain. That’s not to downgrade the importance of stewardship and good governance, but to recognise the advantages which can be achieved when, in CIPFA’s definition of the concept:
'The business partner supports sound financial decision making and promotes good financial management so that resources are stretched as far as possible to provide public services that people need and want.'
The vision for the finance function is to lead innovation, add value, manage risk and reduce costs through close partnering with service managers and clinicians. This vision is very much in tune with the thrust of the Future Focused Finance programme, reflecting the need to respond to current pressures, and the increasing relevance of integrated and devolved approaches to management.
So, how can you go about it? CIPFA’s 2015 publication The Excellent Finance Business Partner is a comprehensive examination of the principles and practice across the whole of the public sector. However, CIPFA wants to make sure the NHS in particular can apply the thinking as efficiently as possible, and so the Health Panel in conjunction with FFF has overseen an edited version which aims to streamline the reading, add practical tools and provide a focus on the issues which matter in the NHS.
Our new publication, The Excellent Finance Business Partner in the NHS, turns on a series of easily-assimilated checklists which enable finance leaders in the NHS to make a rapid assessment of their organisation and function’s readiness to adopt the business partnering approach, put in place the right preparatory measures, and then implement it successfully. The detail is tied into the checklists and complemented by case studies, which should make the book a useful tool to focus effort where it is needed most, and give access to the appropriate level of detail for the practical purpose.
Checklist A: Are You Ready?
Checklist B: Technical Skills
Checklist C: Behavioural Skills
Checklist D: Strategic, Commercial and Clinical Awareness
Checklist E: Implementation Requirements
Checklist F: Potential Challenges