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Managing with the right financial tools

December 4, 2018

Managers have many functions. A major tool is having the right financial data. Unless you are an accountant or have an MBA, not many managers know what to ask for, let alone how to use what they get. Here are some suggestions.

  1. Meet with the accountant, controller or whoever will be providing the data to you 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 what you receive is user friendly. This means that it can quickly be 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 ever better information.
  4. 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.
  5. Occasionally the reasons have to do with reconciling what you are given while the unreconciled amounts would serve just as well.
  6. It can be very helpful to getting what you need to have the financial person 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 be able 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.

If you have any comments or questions, do not hesitate to contact me at emendlowitz@withum.com. Do not forget to include your phone number for a call back from me.

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