Reading the recent articles on management report packs, David Carter objects that most of this stuff is ancient history. Too many accountants think their role is to sit on the touchline as a spectator and add up the score after the game is over. Not good enough: it's time for them to take part in the game itself.
Recently we've had a series of articles discussing what top managers would like to see in their monthly management report packs. And a very worthy discussion it is too. Don't get me wrong: obviously it's important that the top brass have the information for their monthly board meeting. But board meetings are simply an exercise in back seat driving. By the time they get to the boardroom the events under discussion may have happened over a month ago. Meanwhile, the people out in the field are grappling with today's problems.
Forgetting for a moment your services to top management, what help do you as an accountant give to your customer-facing staff, to the people who actually do the work? Are you the typical accountant who sits out the game on the touchline? Then, after the game is over, you add up the score and say who won? Or do you make a point of getting out there onto the pitch where the action is, getting your hands dirty, part of the team?
How to help customer-facing staff
How can you help the customer-facing staff? Let's take an example: suppose your company has a sales manager with a monthly sales target to meet.
In your score-keeping role you might wait till the month is over, then produce a P&L that tells how she failed to make her budgeted sales this month.
But in your team-player role you might write a Daily Sales Report which shows her the value of sales invoiced so far this month. And if, seven days before month-end, it's clear she's going to miss her target, you give her an Outstanding Orders report in due date order. She has a quick look, sees there are a couple of orders due for delivery early next month, gets the customers' agreement to bring delivery forward, and successfully makes her target.