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Using financial controls to get started as a manager

April 3, 2018

Getting started as a manager requires many skills, one of which is to review financial data and use it as a method of controlling your department, division or company. Here is a way to get started. Every manger is responsible for an economic unit. For the CEO or COO It could be the entire company. For a foreman, it could be the production floor. For a team leader or sales manager it could be as little as a half dozen people. Whatever it is, controls are necessary and obtaining the right data can facilitate the management process. Therefore it is necessary to identify the proper information that will be received on a regular basis – daily, weekly and monthly.

For new or first time managers a starting point is review the available financial data, the payroll listing and department budgets. If possible, obtain copies of the information the predecessor received. Find out if there are any deadlines, benchmarks, past due deliveries, orders in progress and order backlog. Try to identify key personnel and those with special skills and qualities, or relationships with suppliers or customers. The next step is to tour the factory or offices to review the operations and internal controls.

Usually payroll costs are a major expense item, so it is a good place to start. Review the payroll listing categorized by department and function; along with annual pay or hourly rate, bonus arrangement or overtime policy and company vacation, sick day, time off and holiday policy and any other pay factors.

You then need to determine how many hours each employee actually works and the cost per hour worked. For example, an employee might get paid for 40 hours per week for 52 weeks giving 2080 hours they are paid for. You should then calculate the days or hours they do not work. Taking the Company’s policy into account, you might come up with, say, 240 of these 2080 hours are not worked leaving work or production hours of 1840. If you divide the employees’ total annual costs which is salary plus taxes and benefits by the 1840, you will get the actual cost per hour. Where possible group the employees to get the total payroll and hourly cost by department or function.

Once this is done, you should then calculate overtime by department and in some cases individual employee and extrapolate the overtime costs and possibly the hourly cost. This can be added to the base hours and payroll cost. This would now give you the average cost per hour worked per department that offers overtime. This usually falls under the direct labor departments and excludes overhead, administration, and sales departments.

The above is a way to get started and get a basic handle on the costs. Notice that you should get started with a large expense item where control is much more essential such as payroll. Starting with smaller cost items will not provide meaningful benefits even if large differences in them are found. Once done, changes can be measured and that then should lead to better control. Weekly measurement is much better than monthly which is far better than quarterly. The size of the unit and your level of management would determine the best periods to obtain the data for. And keep in mind, the financial information is only one part of your control mechanism. Good luck.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 6hawthorne permalink
    April 3, 2018 6:50 am

    Hi Ed what happen to your April fools blog Bob Nagler

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