HR and Finance - The Most Powerful Alignment in Your Firm

Posted by Amy Champigny on April 19, 2018

How to turn revenue into profit blog series

5 Ways HR and Finance can Partner for Strategic Advantage

As financial professionals, our HR counterparts are the most important allies we could possibly have. They should be our strategic planning partners and our confidants. So why don’t we team up more often? In the majority of cases, I think it’s because of how we work. Fractured systems isolate us professionally, making it difficult to understand the points of synergy between our two worlds. During my years in finance, I didn’t understand the value of human capital because it wasn’t something I could capture on a balance sheet. There is no generally accepted accounting principal to assign monetary value to talent, but the intrinsic value is there, just the same.

A growing demand to track Human Capital Management (HCM) metrics is putting pressure on already burdened HR professionals. Digital HCM is the future of HR and promises to become the strategic keystone we need. So why are we so slow to embrace it? Many companies are still struggling to manually piece together information from payroll, finance, and even sales in order to extract sophisticated insights from data. Unlike most HR professionals, those of us in Finance are already accustomed to this type of analytical work. We’ve been forced to leverage technology to track and benchmark metrics far longer than our friends in HR. We’re familiar with the challenges of disparate systems and what it takes to build bridges between human capital management (HCM) and financial ERP solutions. Think of the possibilities.

Establish HCM as an integral part of the business

As the finance leader in your organization, you are typically included in strategic planning activities. If you haven’t already invited your HR counterparts to the table, I encourage you to do so now. They could be one of your most strategic partners as they understand the value of your firm’s workforce and how to increase that value through thoughtful investment.

 

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Below are 5 ways finance can (and should) partner with HR:

  1. Establish a Human Capital Management Strategy 

    Encourage your firm’s leaders to establish human capital management as a strategic function and recognize that they are a valuable, untapped resource. Focus on how to grow the business organically by tapping into the productivity that results from a highly engaged workforce. Attracting, developing, and optimizing great people will help your firm lead the industry with high performing teams.
  2. Create a HR Technology Roadmap

    For most firms, the road to a fully integrated HR technology solution is just the beginning. Prepare your firm for the total investment in terms of budget and time. Create a roadmap to help all stakeholders in your firm understand what it will take to successfully craft and implement a digital human capital management strategy.
  3. Integrate HR and ERP technology

    The integration of these two technologies is a must for any strategic HR roadmap. Integrating critical business functions is the only way to get the analytics required to optimize your workforce. Integration will allow employee information to be pushed into the ERP system to facilitate the project lifecycle.  Critical data around time and attendance, employee expense reports, and employees will be able to move between systems and streamline the allocation of costs to projects, improve resource planning, and automate payroll.
  4. Enable Collaboration

    Be sure to include collaboration tools in your HR technology roadmap. Project work is often spread across locations and teams, making it necessary to have tools in place that enable dispersed teams to communicate and work together. Collaboration tools can also help to identify disengaged employees faster and ramp new employees more quickly.
  5. Choose a Partner

    Software was once something that we bought and used. Today, when you choose a tool, you are also choosing a partner. Spending time evaluating features and functionality is not enough. Chose a partner that understands project-based firms and your unique challenges. Make sure they have made the right investments in solutions for your industry and aligned with your needs.

    Although on the surface the goals of Finance and HR may appear different; they are much more aligned than most of us realize. We both want to be able to analyze, manage, and optimize the workforce in order to predict future needs, improve utilization and grow profitability. It’s time to recognize this and come together with a mutual understanding of how so much untapped value is lying dormant in our organizations. It’s hard to quantify, you can’t report it in your financial statements, but people are our greatest asset and the true source of our organization’s value.
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    About the Author

    Amy Champigny spent more than 15 years working in finance and accounting and most recently she served as Director of Finance for a management consulting group. In 2015 Amy implemented a Deltek ERP and transformed the finance function in her firm.