Tag Archives | financial leadership

Write an Action Plan

See Also:
How to Run an Effective Meeting
SWOT Analysis
How to Respond to an Imminent Disaster Threat
How to Prepare a Flash Report

Write an Action Plan

When you write an action plan, it is more than just how to get organized. The primary purpose of the action plan is to serve as the controller’s tool to communicate with the Owner(s)/Management the goals to be achieved and the relative priorities. It is important that your action plan template provide fields for a detailed description of the tasks, the assignee, the due date, priority, current status, and completion date.

Action Plan How To

The action plan is a means to communicate scope to management. By communicating your scope of work, it serves as a tool to manage expectations and to assist in the setting of priorities…especially when the number of projects start to stack up. The value of the action plan in this latter part is immeasurable entrepreneurial owners tend to load up on more projects than either time or money will permit!

Action Plan For Employees

Once you have a firm grasp of the situation at hand, you can now formulate the tasks that need to be accomplished. These tasks should be listed on the Action Plan and communicated to the Owner(s)/Management. A discussion can then take place as to the relative importance of these projects as well as the resources and time required to complete them.

This meeting usually occurs within a short time of the controller’s hire. The individual who will ultimately be responsible for implementing the Action Plan should ideally prepare it.

Primary Liaison

In entrepreneurial companies, the primary liaison will typically be the Owner(s) of the firm. However, there may also be key management staff that you will need to interface with. It will be important for you to meet with all of them, although not necessarily all at the same sitting.

Meeting with Owner/Management

When meeting with the Owner/Management of the company, it is important to go into the meeting with the frame of mind come out with specific, measurable tasks to accomplish. Out of your meeting, you want to be able to put on paper something tangible. Why is this important? It’s important because a tangible task is a task that you can accomplish…without much debate as to the results.

Meet with Other Staff

After you have met the Owner/Management, the next step will be to meet with pertinent staff. The Owner/Management of the firm should be able to point you in the right direction in terms of who to talk to. One thing to keep in mind when meeting with the staff is that the issues the Owner(s)/Management present may or may not be the root cause of the true problems present at the company. The staff working at the company may have an entirely different take on what is ACTUALLY happening. Once you have a firm grasp of the situation at hand, you can now better formulate the tasks that need to accomplished. These tasks should be listed on the Action Plan and communicated to the Owner(s)/Management. A discussion can then take place as to the relative importance of these projects as well as the resources and time required to complete them.

Meetings with individual staff may occur over several encounters depending on their availability and/or new facts that come to light. However, it will be important to meet as many people as possible initially if for no other fact than to establish trust and relationships.

Fact Finding

After having met with the Owner/Management, take some time to organize your thoughts and get a game plan together as to who you need to see. Having done so, you are now ready to start the fact-finding mission. Keep in mind though, that this process is as much about trust and relationship building as it is about fact finding. A lot of times, the company’s staff will know things that the management doesn’t know. They also will be able to provide clues as to how to best approach the Owner/Management of the client company. As is the case with meeting the Management/Owner, listening will be your best tool.

Action Plan List

Once you have had a chance to meet with all the pertinent parties, it’s now time to assess the particulars of what the problem is and how you can add value. The meeting with the principals will usually provide the general direction, if not specific projects to work on. The company’s staff will also provide the consultant with important perspective on the problem.

Formulate Tasks

Once you have a firm grasp of the situation at hand, you can now better formulate the tasks that need to be accomplished. These tasks should be listed on the Action Plan and communicated to the Owner(s)/Management. A discussion can then take place as to the relative importance of these projects as well as the resources and time required to complete them.

Draw up the initial list of tasks and projects after you meet with the Owner/Management and the company’s staff. However, you’ll find that as time goes on, the management/owners will assign more projects to you.

Update It Constantly

When you write an action plan, update it constantly to help communicate as to what you are involved in and your priorities.

Feel free to add additional fields in order to tailor the Action Plan to your specific situation. Possible additions include columns for resources, such as who to leverage off of or who it is assigned to.

In addition, this task list could very well serve as the basis for a Gantt Chart for managing a project. Consider putting this on the public drive so that everyone can see the status of projects.

Once you have completed your list and/or updated it, you should arrange to meet with the Owner/Management to review it. Having finished reviewing the list, you and the Owner/Management should mutually agree on the priorities. Periodically review the list and rearrange priorities as necessary.

Assign Prioritize Tasks

Whenever possible, try to leverage off of the company staff. This provides several benefits. First, leveraging off of the company staff speeds the process along. Second, this frees you up to do higher level value-added tasks.

Since you are working off of the action plan, update it continuously to provide you with a situational awareness of the task list. As projects become complete, new ones will be created. As such, it is also important to re-prioritize your action plan.

Prioritize the tasks by their: task, due date, status and person assigned to handle. One of the first priorities is to improve the accuracy of the accounting information, without which you cannot function as a CFO/controller.

Update Progress Priorities

As you make progress on your task list, keep a status update on everything. Also note which staff member, if any, is working on it. You will shortly find that even as you strive to complete the tasks at hand, the Owner/Management will come up with even more things to do in short order. The Action Plan will help communicate what is left to do and the priority of each project. Review with management your progress to come to an agreement as to what’s important.

Draw up the initial list of tasks and projects after having met with the Owner/Management and company’s staff. However, you’ll find that as time goes on, the management and owners of the firm will assign more projects to you. Keep your action plan updated constantly. Then sort by task, due date, person assigned to handle or status.

Review with Owner/Management

Review the updated action plan to agree as to what the priorities and direction should be. This way, you manage expectations.

Update your action plan constantly to help you communicate to management what you are involved in and your priorities. To learn more financial leadership skills, download the free 7 Habits of Highly Effective CFOs.

Write an Action Plan
Write an Action Plan

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Controller vs Comptroller

See Also:
Controller
Controller vs CFO
The Importance of Knowing Your Leadership Competencies
Flash Reports Are a Game Changer

Controller vs Comptroller

What is the difference is between a controller vs comptroller? At the end of the day, the controller vs comptroller relationship is not all too diverse. A controller is a person that is at the highest accounting level in an organization. In other words, he/she is the head of the financial division of a company. Controllers are responsible for the financial accounting reporting, analysis and interpretation to the executive management team. They also administer the internal controls within an organization. A comptroller must possess the same duties of a financial controller. There is not a significant difference in the roles of a controller versus comptroller. A comptroller definition is a senior accountant in a government organization, however, the duties of a comptroller and controller do not differ. However, there seems to be a slight difference between the two entities when examined at a closer level.

(NOTE: Want to take your financial leadership to the next level? Download the 7 Habits of Highly Effective CFO’s. It walks you through steps to accelerate your career in becoming a leader in your company. Get it here!)

Origins Of Comptroller Vs Controller

Because both definitions seem strikingly similar, why have two terms in the first place? Years ago in the 1800’s, the term “comptroller” arose from a careless misspelling of the term “controller.” At the same time, if one was to examine the etymology of the term “comptroller,” the word itself has French roots that date back to the 15th century. The original English word, countreroller, is a word that means “one who specializes in checking financial ledgers.” From then on, the spelling, along with the duties of a regular controller, stuck and the term “comptroller” became a similar term referring to a financial officer in the government sector.

Controller in the United States

While in the United States, where capitalism seems to have caused a consolidation of the terms controller versus comptroller, it seems that the term “comptroller” seems to have developed a slight difference in the European sector. The difference in question seems to be one involving the expenses involved with products in a company. A comptroller seems to oversee the overall costs that go into the services a company is providing.

On the other hand, the controller is merely concerned with the bottom line; more specifically, the costs that are associated with the final product within a company. Because the controller is more concerned with the bottom line at the end of the day, his job seems to carry a little more weight financially. Therefore, you would most likely pay a person with the title controller more than a comptroller. Though, the amount paid most certainly depends upon the company hiring. If nothing else, the New York Times, when referring to the controller-comptroller relationship states: “the official title controller, in all laws, public records, and documents, be spelled controller, that being historically and etymologically the true and right spelling; and that the false and offensive form ‘comptroller,’ born of ignorance and continued in darkness, be discarded.”

A controller or a comptroller can act as a financial leader in your company. Download the free 7 Habits of Highly Effective CFOs to find out how you can become a more valuable financial leader.

controller vs comptroller

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American Institute of Certified Public Accountants – AICPA

American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Definition

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) is a professional organization for Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). Furthermore, this organization is based in the United States. The organization dates back to 1887.

The AICPA creates the CPA examination. Then, they grade the CPA examination. In addition, it is also the organization that authored many of the original financial accounting and reporting standards included in GAAP; however, FASB is now responsible for GAAP.

The AICPA’s primary objectives include the following:

  • Advocacy on behalf of members
  • Certification and licensing of new members
  • Promoting public awareness of CPA professionalism
  • Recruiting and educating prospective CPAs
  • Establishing professional standards

If you want to learn more financial leadership skills, then download the free 7 Habits of Highly Effective CFOs. Find out how you can become a more valuable financial leader.

american institute of certified public accountants

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AICPA Website

If you want more information on the AICPA, then go to: AICPA.org.

See Also:
Statement of Financial Accounting Standards – SFAS
Sensitivity Analysis Definition
Standard Chart of Accounts
Problems in Chart of Accounts Design
Future of the Accounting Workforce

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Advisory Board Best Practices

See Also:
How to Run an Effective Meeting
Future of the Accounting Workforce
How To Train People For Success
Advisory Board Agreement
How to Hire New Employees
How to form an Advisory Board

Advisory Board Best Practices

Best Practices of advisory board management include setting an agenda, communicating with members and soliciting recommendations. Once you set up your advisory board, all of these goals can be relatively easy to achieve.

Advisory Board Agenda

Meetings are typically a routine – a pre-planned event with an advisory board meeting agenda. They are usually a lunch meeting that lasts into the late afternoon or it can be an early dinner meeting that lasts into the early evening. You can hold these meetings in a private room at a restaurant or club. You want it to be somewhere that is quiet and where you and the advisory board members can have an uninterrupted conversation with food and drink provided.

Advisory board meetings typically last between three and four hours, depending on how full the agenda is for a meeting. It is a good idea to publish an advisory board meeting agenda in advance. If members are required to read or prepare anything, then they will have enough time to be ready for the meeting.

The expected outcome of the advisory board meeting is for you to get some recommendations, advice, and perspective. It is not necessarily to make decisions as in a traditional board meeting, with votes taken on motions and minutes of the meeting taken and published.

Advisory Board Communication

You can include advisory board members in the distribution of your monthly financial and operational reports for the company, in order to keep them up to speed on how the company is progressing. This can be beneficial if your advisory board meets on a quarterly basis. You can communicate via email. Furthermore, some advisory boards will have members who engage in discussion between meetings, via email or in person. In addition, advisory board members may meet individually with the company’s president or CEO in between advisory board meetings.

To learn more financial leadership skills, download the free 7 Habits of Highly Effective CFOs.

advisory board best practices

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Advisory Board Agreement

See Also:
Advisory Board Best Practices
Benefits of Advisory Boards
Form an Advisory Board
How to Manage your Lawyer
How to write an Action Plan

Advisory Board Agreement

Whereas ____ (Company Name) (Company) desires to have ____ (Board Member) (Member) participate as a member of the (Company Name) Advisory Board (Board) and Member desires to participate in such a capacity, this advisory board agreement establishes the business relationship between Company and Member.

Scope of Advisory Board Agreement

The sole purpose of the Advisory Board Agreement is to provide the CEO of Company with the varying perspectives of the respective Advisory Board Members. The CEO of Company will choose all topics discussed at Board of Advisory meetings. The Board of Advisors will not provide a consensus or vote on a course of action for Company. Member agrees to interact with Company in an advisory capacity only and will have no responsibility or authority in the operations of Company’s business. The use of any information, perspectives or opinions provided by members of the Board will be at the sole discretion of the CEO of Company.

In deciding to take action on topics discussed at Advisory Board Meetings the Company absolves Advisory Board Members of any and all responsibility and liability. Company bears the sole responsibility of deciding what recommendations made by Board of Advisors or Board Member to accept or reject. Company also bears the sole responsibility regarding any implementation and/or success of any recommendation made by Board of Advisory or Board Member.


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Frequency of Advisory Board Meetings

The Advisory Board will meet three (3) or four (4) times a year. Company will notify Members the first (1st) of each year the dates of the meetings for that year.

Member Remuneration

Company agrees to pay Member (??) hundred dollars ($??.00) for each Advisory Board Meeting attended.

Termination

Either party can terminate this Board of Advisors agreement with thirty (30) days prior written notice.

Termination notices will be mailed to the following addresses:

______________ (Company)
______________ (address){BR} ______________ (city & state)
______________ (Member)
______________ (address){BR} ______________ (city & state)

Confidentiality

Company will make Member aware of all conversations and/or materials that are deemed confidential. Any information in the public domain will not be deemed confidential.

This Advisory Board agreement deems the terms and fees of this Advisory Board confidential.

Governing State LAW. This Advisory Board Agreement is executed pursuant to, is intended to be performed under and shall be governed in its interpretation and effect by the laws of the State of (?).

______________ (Company)
______________ Date

______________ (Advisory Board Member)
______________ Date

If you want to learn more financial leadership skills like having an advisory board, then download the free 7 Habits of Highly Effective CFOs.

advisory board agreement

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Action Plan

See Also:
Write an Action Plan
Business Plan
Exit Planning
Pension Plans
Keogh Plan

Action Plan Definition

An action plan, defined as a plan which explains the action to take place in full detail, is a personal plan as much as it is a business tool. In any action plan, there are 3 main factors: what must be done, what tools are needed to do this, and when it will be finished. In this way an action plan format is universal: every action plan answers 3 main questions.

Action Plan Explanation

The action plan explanation is the what, how, and when of achieving a goal. It is also an essential business document. Because the action plan establishes exactly what needs to be done to achieve a goal, it is so important. Whether the goal is to open a business, complete a project, or organize the paperclips on a desk, the action plan is the path to thorough completion of the task. Though the tasks differ for each action plan, medical staffing and pizza delivery as an example, the structure of the plan remains the same.

They often become a part of a larger action plan outline. In business, you combine specific action plans to finally create a master action plan. This is the business plan. For example, we even created a plan of action to write this article. Though the project was set back for unexplained reasons, the action plan was finally completed, with the article written on software and published to the internet. For it, a writer was needed as well as a computer, internet access, and a subject matter. In this way, every goal will have an action plan if it is to be achieved.

Example

For example, Vito is the owner of an Italian restaurant. Coming from his motherland to a new home in the United States, he is an expert in authentic cuisine from southern Italy. Vito loves his food, his work, and his business.

Main Goal

Vito has created an action plan to create a pizza. First, the goal is to have a pizza ready for the customer in a maximum of 30 minutes. This is the main goal of the plan.

Tools

Next, the action plan establishes the tools to make a pizza. Vito needs dough, cheese, miscellaneous toppings, and the tomato sauce with the secret recipe from his grandmother. Vito assembles these tools every day.

Timeline

Then, he creates a timeline. In the first minute, you must knead the dough. After that, it takes 5 minutes to add all of the toppings. Vito knows it takes an additional 20 minutes of oven time to make the pizza. This leaves 4 minutes for accidents, distractions, and other time extensions.

Conclusion

Following his method, Vito is able to make his company a great success. His pizzas are delicious and customers love the secret sauce. Vito even created an action plan, marketing for his business, which focused mainly on finding a good location and creation an eye-catching sign. Vito loves his work, so he creates an action plan for achieving goals each part of it. This way he can achieve his tasks and come home happy that he has done valuable work.

To learn more financial leadership skills, download the free 7 Habits of Highly Effective CFOs.

action plan, Action Plan Definition, Action Plan Explanation

Strategic CFO Lab Member Extra

Access your Flash Report Execution Plan in SCFO Lab. The step-by-step plan to manage your company before your financial statements are prepared.

Click here to access your Execution Plan. Not a Lab Member?

Click here to learn more about SCFO Labs

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The Time for Reflections and Projections

The end of 2012 is quickly approaching and while businesses tend to slow down this time of year, many business owners are using the time for reflections and projections. Being able to look back over this year to reflect on the “good, bad, and ugly” of the business can give you a head start on how to plan for the upcoming year. As for our team at The Strategic CFO in Houston, TX, we take this opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments and disappointments of this year so that we can move forward into the next year goal-oriented and focused. Have you started your end of the year reflections?

The Time for Reflections and Projections

Here’s an excerpt from an interesting article I read that includes some entrepreneur must-dos that will help you along.

All year long you’ve been in frantic motion. You’ve put out fires, solved employee snafus and issues, juggled conflicting priorities, fielded exhausting back-to-back meetings, telephone calls, and endless emails. You have motivated yourself and others and kept blocking and tackling month after month by leading and managing your company toward achieving the objectives and goals you set. In other words, it’s been a typical year in the life of a small business owner, and, suddenly, December is here, and 2013 is right around the corner. And according to Bill McBean, author of the new book The Facts of Business Life: What Every Successful Business Owner Knows That You Don’t, with a little focused thought, the last month of 2012 can also be the most valuable one.

“Sometimes the business world pauses to catch its breath in December,” says McBean. “This may or may not be true in your industry or company. But either way, you owe it to yourself, your customers, your employees, and your future to tear yourself away from the daily grind long enough to do some end-of-the-year or early-next-year reflection and forward planning.”

Typically, entrepreneurs and small business owners have trouble seeing above the action and the dust it creates. But maintaining a cool and measured perspective on where you are, where you’re headed, and—most importantly—exactly what you need to do to get there is crucial to next year’s success.

Questions to Ask

Along with the “must-dos” cited in the article, consider the following questions when reflecting on the past year and planning for the next:

  • What did I learn?
  • What unfinished business do I take into the new year?
  • Where did I meet the targets I set for my company and where did we fall short?
  • What does success in 2013 look like?
  • What steps do I need to take to increase the probability of success?

So, what are you doing to wrap up your year and move forward into 2013? I’d love to hear any additional thoughts/questions you might have so please feel free to leave a comment.

The Time for Reflections and Projections

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LEARN THE ART OF THE CFO