The role of the strategic thinker and business partner

Cultivating a strategic partnering capability can drive effective decision-making and improve business performance.  


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As organizations automate process, someone dedicated to developing insights and identifying opportunities for future business growth, efficiencies, or redirection is critical.
Matt Campbell, Managing Director, People & Change, KPMG

As the nature of work changes, so too does the skill set required to drive value. The ability to anticipate changes, process high volumes of information, and align day-to-day activities to the leading drivers of the business has substantial long-term impacts on success. With automation taking over transactional work, organizations today need skilled talent and new roles and functions dedicated to strategic partnering. 

Simply appointing a team member to a role requiring strategic business partner skills may not result in the benefits expected. Instead, organizations need to reexamine the structural and talent elements they have put into place to attract, develop, enable, and retain employees for these roles. The organization itself may even need to change. 


Developing talent to do more than just adapt to advancing technology

Learn below about structural changes and talent elements needed to support strategic business partnering, including examples for the finance function. 


Competencies to emphasize for a strategic workforce 

Today's shifts in technology, workforce demographics, and mind-sets create opportunity for organizations to rethink the competencies needed for tomorrow. Specifically, talent acquisition, talent development, and talent assessment need to incorporate new or updated competencies to drive the organization’s future success.

Strategic mind-set

The ability to analyze new information and develop a strategy is a competency that must be present further down the organizational hierarchy. Markets, technology, and programs change fast. While the C-suite often heralds the need for a company to be agile and ready for change, managers who lack a strategic mind-set will be slow to accept and will rarely lead change. For instance, a well-equipped strategic partner can analyze the market, prepare a business case, and advise on a recommended approach to acquire a new piece of business or customer segment.


Relationship management

Business partners need to be seen as a trusted adviser—one that the stakeholders respect and can rely on to understand their business objectives and provide useful insights to further their agenda. But how that relationship is managed and maintained is just as critical as the information itself. Partnering with business peers to determine a clear and agreed-upon direction requires continuous communication, the skill to facilitate idea creation, and the ability to create strong business cases among multiple parties. Through proactive and thoughtful business relationship management, leaders can obtain information faster, innovate better, and drive a business imperative beyond the scope of their function. 


Results orientation

The drive to achieve measurable results through constant improvement has long been required for leaders at every level. What is new is the quantity and accessibility of data to measure results. Managers no longer need to wait for quarterly or monthly reports, but can spot trends and slice data in ways previously unimagined. As one CFO of a growing retail chain remarked, “We review our sales as they happen, day by day, so we can instantly adjust to micro-trends.” Questions like, “How productive are employees when they work from home?” no longer require guesswork.







Talent development

Managers with skill in talent development facilitate advancement and mobility. While the business benefits for talent development can be difficult to quantify, data on attrition and development successes can be measured. Talent development strategy should be led by the business, not isolated to a Human Resource priority—after all, it is said that employees quit managers, not companies. While the expertise of a Human Resources function can be necessary to drive talent development efforts, the business will be more in tune with the frustrations, desires, and overall key points needed to drive better programs.


To create competitive advantage, you need talent that drives value and productive change. KPMG can help your business leverage technology and develop your organizational structure and talent so that your people's focus can move away from the transactional work product. Contact us today to get started. 

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Matt Campbell

Matt Campbell

Managing Director, Human Capital Advisory, KPMG US


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