You have several business partners, but do they think of you as a trusted business partner and seek you out for your expertise, knowledge, and insights?
Years ago, I was hired to lead the Internal Audit Department at a bank. The group meticulously performed audits but wasn’t a “trusted business partner” who was sought out. We changed our processes, developed the staff, and turned around our reputation. I knew that we had accomplished this because we started getting phone calls from the business requesting our assistance and participation on projects. There was mutual respect, and they knew that we had their best interests in mind to help them.
How well do you understand how the business operates? Is the business doing things the same way because they’re so busy, and that’s how they’ve always done it? Or are there ways to make those business processes more efficient and effective possibly by leveraging technology better? It’s difficult to help the business if you don’t understand its operations.
What I Do To Be A Trusted Business Partner
I like to walk around and see what the business and end users are doing and, more importantly, how they’re doing it. Gathering information, analyzing, and taking the time to understand their operations. Finding out their needs, requirements, issues, and challenges.
I create Visio workflows documenting processes (if they don’t already exist). This helps establish what is actually happening versus assumptions and perceptions. This needs to be a collaborative effort, so make sure the business reviews the workflows and confirms that the processes are accurate. You can’t fix it if you don’t know what’s broken. Once you understand what’s happening (or not happening), you provide insights from a different perspective. Offering innovative ideas including automation which can result in significant improvements.
The business may already know that some processes aren’t as efficient as they could be. Ask how they think you (or technology) can make their lives easier. For example, maybe human resources is burdened with a clunky applicant tracking process. Or finance has to pull data from multiple disparate and siloed data stores, and it takes weeks to process month-end.
If possible, give the business the autonomy to take care of themselves as much as possible. For example, can the website be revamped so that marketing can maintain it (consistently providing fresh content) themselves? Or can an intranet utilizing SharePoint Online with sites (such as department, project, and community) be created that can be maintained by the site owners?
Create a plan setting clear and achievable goals and a timeline that has been agreed upon together. Communicate, communicate, and communicate. There will be more trust as each goal is completed and delivered on time. Stay involved, and the business will continue to seek you out as a valued resource.
For more information on being a trusted business partner, follow me on LinkedIn!
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