President's Message

Our Prime Mission Is Decision Support

Our CEOs expect a lot from financial managers and management accountants like us. They want customer collections and supplier payments to be on time. Our CEOs want the monthly reports asap (usually yesterday!). They want to know tax returns and other compliance reports are filed on time and accurately. They want to be sure we have enough money in the bank to run the business and meet the company’s financial commitments. Our CEOs expect more than just the basics though. They expect quality information and advice to make their decisions. They hold the finance function accountable for the quality of decision making in the company. This is our prime mission.

Pat Riley, highly successful basketball player, coach and team president has often been quoted as saying “if you are not getting better, you are getting worse”. So how do financial managers and management accountants like us get better at decision support? I offer four ideas below. I don’t think any of them are rocket science but hope they can help you to get better at this.

Idea #1 is practice! We all know practice makes perfect. Whether you are at work, facing a home financial decision or helping out a non-profit, each time you support a decision you are learning, getting feedback from a general manager (or at home maybe a spouse but I digress), you are honing your craft. Practice as much as you can!

Idea #2 is take a step back and review. I list out in an Excel sheet all of my key personal decisions and the major ones I support professionally. Once a month, I look through the spreadsheet and look back and assess how accurate that decision was. I learn a lot from this.

Idea #3 is read books and articles from the experts in the field. I am currently reading for example “Decision Quality: Value Creation from Better Business Decisions” by Spetzler, Winter and Meyer. This book lays out a six point framework to improve decision making and is full of practical advice and best practices.

Idea #4 is to take a course on decision support. And as it so happens, the French chapter will be sponsoring a 4 hour CPE course “Decision Making Under Uncertainty” on 22 September at 2:00 pm in La Defense. Whether you follow the French chapter course or find an alternative, the important thing is to meet with experts in the field and find people with similar challenges / who have been there and done it already.

Bryan Barr