Managing with the Right Financial Tools
Directors and managers have many functions including financial oversight and control. Unless they are an accountant or have an MBA, not many know what to ask for, let alone how to use what they get. Below are some suggestions.
- Meet with the accountant, controller or whoever will be providing the data and discuss what you are trying to accomplish and what you might need from them to assist you. A skilled accountant would be able to help you define what you need and how you could use it.
- Make sure that what you receive is user friendly. This means that it can be quickly understood and is relevant to what you are doing. Accountants can literally provide you with anything you need or ask for. The problem comes with understanding it easily and using it as a tool for action.
- Keep in mind that the data you are given is a tool and should not be designed to make an accountant out of you. Regardless of your level of financial sophistication, let the accountant lead the discussion. If you reach a point where you do not feel they are “getting it” as far as your needs, tell them, or ask them to reframe what they are suggesting, or even suggest starting over. You are the “customer” and when they leave, you must be able to use it.
- Whatever you receive and however you use it, and particularly if you are successful with the data, schedule a meeting about a month afterwards to review what you are getting and how it is helping you. Sometimes the first step is a baby step to get you started, and the review can bring you to the next level which might provide even better information or insights.
- Timeliness of the information is of upmost importance. Whatever you get should be as close to real time as possible. If you cannot get it timely, find out why. Occasionally the reasons have to do with needing to reconcile what you are given beforehand while the unreconciled amounts would serve just as well.
- It can be very helpful getting what you need for the financial person to meet you on the production floor or where you will be applying what they supply you with. The visual meeting can create “aha” moments for the financial person to help you get what you need.
Managers need information to manage and control the areas they are responsible for. Understanding what you need and getting it in a user-friendly format can make managing much easier and more effective.
A related blog was posted on May 13, 2019 (https://www.withum.com/resources/serving-is-not-an-honorary-entitlement/).
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