Business Partnering: Tipping the Balance from Operational to Strategic
Becoming a Business Partner paints a picture of a functional expert who has traditionally supported the core operating areas of businesses, changing to become an integral part of the strategic decision making team.
Essentially, business partnering means that a member of a support team, be it HR, Finance, IT or any other support function, is aligned to a part of the business to work hand in hand with them, bringing their functional expertise and experience to add business value, rather than simply to support.
The Business Partner model was originally devised by Dave Ulrich in his book ‘Human Resource Champions’ in 1997. Ulrich described how HR could be aligned to business processes and contribute more to business outcomes. The four outcomes he proposed that are most important for HR are: strategy execution, administrative efficiency, employee contribution and capacity for change.
The model has been recognised and implemented in a wide range of businesses around the world with varying degrees of success. This success is often dependent on how well the model is communicated, understood and supported across the whole business, plus the new business partners’ ability to fulfil their role and be seen to be adding real business value. Being clear on exactly what the role is and providing the means to develop the skills needed to succeed, are essential for a business embarking on the transition.