“The Daf “business partner” is far from reality in all companies” : from its launch, Sébastien Cannizzo, partner at Deloitte, set the tone for the “Future of… Business Partner” workshop organized on the occasion of the Future of Finance event. After all, there is no question of gargling with the strategic position of the Daf, the right-hand man of the general manager and conductor of the company. “Of course there is financial management participation in the strategy, but it is not standardized or structured”, notes Sébastien Cannizzo. So what to do? How to conquer this place in the eyes of the general manager but also of the business lines?
“Getting caught up 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, director of finance and transformation for the Daher group, says she has decentralized management controllers to the company. “By decentralizing them physically, they have moved closer to the operational staff. This makes it possible to go beyond pure production and really support projects“she explains.
Frédéric de Castro, Chief Financial Officer of Etam believes it is necessary “get caught up in the organization”. “We are in daily contact with the business units for questions about payment methods, risk, insurance, contracts, etc…”, he continues. But how to go further and not just secure these sovereign functions with commerce?
Pedagogy and simplification
First, it might be useful to understand what operational staff expect of the finance function. Olivier Irisson, chief operating officer and director of financial operations at BPCE, believes that financial management is expected in terms of training. “We need to give companies insight into the financial aggregates in which they evolve, and in particular the standards”he says.
A pedagogy that can only be done if the financial models are simplified, according to Agnès Balrick-Bulidon (Daher): “The trend of recent months is to return to simpler models to be both more agile and explain better“, she says. The goal is therefore to regularly ask yourself what this or that process is used for, whether it is useful, what strategy it is used for, etc. and to stop piling up procedures that make the business lines both useless and time-consuming. find .
On the other hand, technological developments are not seen as tools that enable CFOs to eliminate a place of ‘business partner’ within their company. “We all want a giant “data lake” with all customers, all past transactions, amounts with comparable data, etc… To then be able to “Google” that. But that will never happen”, point Frédéric de Castro (Etam). For him, not only will technologies never achieve such results, but also high-performance solutions are expensive to implement, while finance departments are being asked to reduce their operational costs.“The fully automatic process whereby a machine is able to draw conclusions about complex and evolving situations seems to me to be a utopia. You need to know how to make decisions with partial information and use common sensewith his knowledge of the subject”he advises.
In the same vein, Olivier Irisson (BPCE) invites: “out of natural stupidity before applying 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 incorrect answers to their questions. To be a ‘business partner’ you need to be competent”, he notes. He further rules that 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 thinks the rescue is on the data side. “The finance department stores the data. We can help companies use data intelligently“, he believes. It therefore invites you to understand the strategic and operational issues of your company and to make the link with finance and relevant indicators. “We can be ‘business partners’ by providing certified data that combines financial and extra-financial data”he adds.
This means that financial management teams must be able to build quality data. “Instead of talking about artificial intelligence, finance needs to integrate mathematical models more than ever. Which means we no longer need the same skills”he insists. He counts in his team few people from pure finance, but mainly people from digital and risk. At Daher, Agnès Balrick-Bulidon will seek employees within engineers and IT. “And vice versa. We need to work on the subject of transversality of internal mobility“she notes.
On the other side of the fence
Frédéric de Castro (Etam) believes that the bridge between finance and business remains complicated. “The evolution from a management controller to a landlord is complexhe notes. De Daf remains on the other side of the barrier, because even if he evolves into a project manager, the steering facet remains a teacher.”. Agnès Balrick-Bulidon (Daher) recognizes that when natural links exist with engineering and IT, it is more difficult to develop its teams within more operational directions. But all Daf present ensured that we were on the right track.