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Business performance management - Growing the beans

Gary Cokins explains how management accountants can confidently use their diagnostic skills to help the business with value creation.

There is a trend in management for anticipating the future with predictive analysis and making adjustments based on better decision-making – a real shift away from reacting to after-the-fact reported outcomes. But despite advances in the application of new costing techniques such as activity-based costing, are management accountants adequately satisfying the needs of managers and employee teams for decision-based cost information? Or is the gap widening? That is, are the accountants still just counting the beans, or are they helping to grow them?

There is a difference between what management accountants report and what managers and employee teams want. This does not mean that information produced by accountants is of little value. In the last few decades, accountants have made significant strides in improving the utility and accuracy of the costs they calculate and report. The gap is being caused by a shift in managers’ needs – from needing to know what things cost (such as a product cost) and what happened, to a need for more purposeful information about what their future costs might be and why; what can happen?

This is an extract from the Finance & Management Magazine, Issue 218, February 2014.

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