Building The Bridge Between HR And Finance To Strengthen Long-Term Strategic Success

Marc Havercroft

Far too often we see organizations challenged to build a strong case for change when it comes to digital transformation. What is becoming more and more apparent is that there are two key players who could build a strong business partnership and pave the way for a green light on digital transformation: HR and finance.

A basic question when making the case for change is: Are you focusing on the right drivers of change? Bringing HR and finance together to define those drivers is a smart approach to building your business case.

As Joel Bernstein, CFO, global customer operations, SAP, explained, “A business partnership between finance and HR is critical to ensure that we have the right strategy and are executing it properly.”

At a recent business networking event, I hosted a discussion for an audience of HR and finance professionals. Yes, that’s right, though it’s rare, we had both finance and HR in one room engaged in an open discussion forum. As you might expect, this produced some interesting takeaways.

Lachelle van der Merwe, head, group business services finance, Nedbank, talked about transforming the company’s human capital management (HCM) and finance operations with SAP.

Lachelle began by outlining the key drivers for Nedbank’s transformation. She said Nedbank had too many disparate systems, high complexity, challenges with risk and governance, and an aging infrastructure.

Now is the time for change

For a large banking institution like Nedbank, governance, risk, and compliance pressures are major drivers for change. Complex, disparate systems create havoc under the surface.

One thing I took away from Lachelle is that HR and finance must come together early in developing the business case for the transformation journey. It’s practically a guarantee that HR and finance have the same issues. Pinpointing those common issues begins with defining the roles and hierarchies in finance and HR.

As Lachelle said: “Hierarchies and structure must be accurate to support each other in the transformation process.”

The next step is to look at crossovers between the issues facing HR and finance, including the key outputs that impact the performance of both departments.

By bringing HR and finance together at the start of your transformation journey, you have a better chance of avoiding the regrettable “what could have been” when looking back at your digitalization implementation.

So my best advice is, make sure to talk to your HR and finance functions before taking that next step in making the case for digital transformation. Recognize what you can achieve through a combined approach that will result in a stronger case for change.

As part of the SAP Finance & HR Community, we will be running a series of open discussions for executives. You can register your interest here.


Marc Havercroft

About Marc Havercroft

Marc Havercroft, COO & Vice President Strategy, brings more than 20 years of experience within the future workforce strategy and transformation, helping clients adapt their HR strategy to meet the opportunity of the new digital world and the future workforce needed. His expertise includes advisory & strategy and workforce design for organizations going through major change as well as new entrants into EMEA, North America, and APJ & Greater China regions from both green field to M&A structures. Marc has worked across industries from financial services, Telco, energy, media, digital social, and public sector, turning current and global trends into meaningful workforce strategies that deliver.