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Controller as Business Manager


This publication will help finance and accounting managers understand and apply a critical set of financial and business management skill sets in order to become more integral contributors to the higher level business activities within their organization. With insight and examples the author will lead you through the strategies and thought processes that address key areas such as risk, communications, planning and profitability. The content emphasizes the additional roles that controllers and accounting managers are now playing within their organizations.  It will show you a roadmap that can expand your role from a simple internal process / transaction orientation to an external orientation focused on understanding business, industry and macro trends.

This book will address:

  • Controllers and accounting managers who are being increasingly called on to assume an enterprise-wide management role in their organizations.
  • Tools and techniques that can have immediate impact.
  • Sufficient business theory to inform, but deliver enough strong practical content to lead to actionable strategies.

James (Jim) T. Lindell, CPA, CGMA, MBA, is the president of Thorsten Consulting Group Inc., a Wisconsin-based provider of strategic and financial consulting, professional speaking, training and executive coaching. He has an extensive background in senior management, including positions as chief financial officer, corporate controller and corporate assistant controller. Jim has worked with a variety of industries, including manufacturing health care, not for profit, distribution and food processing.


Expanding Controller Value 1

Factors Currently Influencing Controllers 1

The Path From Controller to Business Partner 3

First Circle--Detail-Oriented Controller 3

Second Circle--Controller and Business Strategy 4

Third Circle--Industry Strategy 4

Fourth Circle--Trends, Politics, Economy 5

Contrast Detailed Controller With Business Partner 5

Survey of What CEOs Want From Controllers and CFOs 5

Themes and Structure of This Book 6


Controller vs. Business Manager 11

The Role of Controller 11

The Role of Business Manager 11

Contrast Controller With Business Manager 12

Servant Leadership 15

Principles of Servant Leadership 16

Managing Versus Leading 17


The Overall Planning Model 23

Dreams 24

The Value and Purpose of Dreams and the Relationship to Planning 25

Vision 26

Mission 27

How Do You Make a Mission Statement Come Alive in an Organisation? 28

Goals 28

Execution 29

Success 30

The Planning Continuum 30

Dreams 31

Vision 31

The Business Plan 31

The Strategic Plan 31

The Annual Plan 31

Three- to Five-Year Plan 32

Risk Management 32

Vacation Metaphor for Planning 32

Identifying the Business Model 34

Creating Value Through Strategic Alignment 35

Driving Value Through an Aligned Culture 43

Clarify Performance Expectations 43

Define Values in Behavioural Terms 45

Hold Leaders and Staff Accountable 46

Getting Started with Your Own Culture Transformation 46


Corporate Culture and Planning 49

Corporate Culture and Its Relation to Strategic Planning 54

McKinsey Study--Strategic Planning 57

The Business Plan 62

Introduction 62

The Business Plan 62

What Are the Benefits of Using a Business Plan? 62

Considering the Audience for a Business Plan 63

Business Plan Outline 64

Cover Sheet 65

Table of Contents 65

Executive Summary 65

Company Description 66

Industry Analysis 68

Market Analysis 69

Competition 70

Marketing and Sales 74

Operations 75

Management and Organisation 76

Capitalisation and Structure 77

Development and Milestones 78

Risks and Contingencies 79

Financial Projections 79

Appendices (Optional) 80

Business Plan Pitfalls 80

The Business Plan Is Only Written to Receive Funding 81

The Business Plan Is Written by a Consultant 81

The Business Is Unwilling to Spend the Required Time to Create the Business Plan 81

The Business Does Not Match Its Corporate Culture With the Same Level of Business Planning 82

The Business Operates in Crisis Mode and Therefore Ignores the Planning Process 82

The Plan Is Not Shared With All Levels of the Organisation 82

Lower Level Employees Had No Input Into the Business Plan 82

The Business Does Not Recognise the Power of a Vision or a Mission Statement 82

Employees Do Not Know How Their Positions Relate to the Business Plan 83

The Business Has Hidden Issues That No One Is Willing to Discuss 83

The Business Is Unwilling to Accept That Its Business Model Is Out of Date or May Be in Jeopardy 83

Hockey Stick Projections 83

Underestimating Competition 83

Underestimating Start-up Expenses 84

Overestimating Sales Volume Ramp Up 84

Lack of Consistency in the Plan 84

Lack of Objective Reviewer 84

Owner of Business Plan Is Too Enthusiastic About Derivative Possibilities 84

Market Share Estimates That Have No Support 85

Lack of Visual Charts and Diagrams 85

Credibility of Board of Directors 85

Uncontrolled Spending and Start-up 85

Failure to Review and Include Ratios and Trend Analysis 85

The One-Page Business Plan 86


The Difference Between a Business Plan and a Strategic Plan 87

Benefits of Strategic Planning 87

Basic Overview of Various Strategic Planning Models 88

Model One--”Basic” Strategic Planning 88

Model Two--Issue-Based (or Goal-Based) Planning 89

Model Three--Alignment Model 89

Model Four--Scenario Planning 90

Model Five--”Organic” (or Self-Organising) Planning 90

Comparison of New Planning to Old Planning 91

Strategic Planning Resources 91

Software Programs 92

Web Sites 92

Government Resources 92

External Consultants 92

Coaches or Facilitators 92

How Are Departmental Goals Influenced by Strategic Goals? 93

Tools That Are Available to Aid the Strategic Planning Process 93

SWOT Analysis 94

PEST Analysis 95

Scenario Planning 96

Competitive Analysis 97

Goals Grid 97

Focus Groups 98

STP Method 98

Gap Analysis 99

Start and Stop 99

Plus Delta 99

Balanced Scorecard 100

Force Field Analysis 101

Product-Market Growth Matrix 103

Mind Mapping 104

The 5 Whys 105

How To Conduct Strategic Planning for Your Company 106

One-Page Strategic Plan 108


Introduction 113

Lean Management 113

Lean Manufacturing Overview and Benefits 114

5S 114

Visual Controls 115

Value Streams 115

Pull 116

Mistake Proofing 116

Quick Changeover 116

Six Sigma 117

Theory of Constraints 117

Lean Concepts 118

Value Streams and Value Stream Mapping 118

Pull Manufacturing 120

Kanban 122

One Piece Flow Manufacturing 123

Standard Work and Takt Time 124

Takt Time 124

Production Smoothing 125

Kaizen 126

Waste Identification 128

Office Lean Management 129

Lean Office Approach 129

Implementing a Lean Programme in Your Business 131

Best Practice Checklist 132

Turning Data Into Knowledge 137

Almanac of Business and Industrial Financial Ratios 138

Altman’s Z-Score: A Bankruptcy Predictor 144

Z-Score Model 1 145

Z-Score Model 2 152

Z-Score Model 3 152

Publicly Traded Data 153

Finance Yahoo Comparable Data 153

Economic Analysis--American Association of Railroads 156

Economic Analysis--Federal Reserve Industrial Production and Capacity 159

Economic Analysis--Federal Reserve Data 162

Correlation Analysis 166

Ratio Analysis 167

Financial Ratios 167

Liquidity Ratios 167

Asset Turnover Ratios 168

Financial Leverage Ratios 169

Profitability Ratios 170

Dividend Payout Ratio 170

Use and Limitations of Financial Ratios 171

DuPont Calculation 174

Summary Comments 175


The Committee of Sponsoring Organizations (COSO) 177

Relationship of COSO and Ethics 179

Internal Control Principles 179

Internal Audit 182

Chief Ethics Officer 182

Fraud Reporting Process 182

Measurement 183

Sample Code of Ethics Policy Statement 183

Code of Ethics and Business Conduct--ABC Co. 183

Set Metrics and Report Results Accurately 186

AICPA Code of Professional Conduct 188

Members in Business and Industry--Examples of Violations 188


What Do Employees Want? 191

Meaning 192

Control 193

Reward 193

Recognition 195

Balance 196

Recruit, Retain, and Develop 196

Personality Profiles 197

Merrill-Reid Descriptors 200

Merrill-Reid Implications for Working with Staff 201

Profile Tools 202

Myers-Briggs Profile 202

The Caliper Profile 208

Culture Index 210

Performance Values Matrix 214


The Finance Function and Oversight of the Human Resources Function 217

Trends in Strategic Human Resource Management 218

Overview of Human Resource Management 219

Mission Statement 219

Environment and Trends 220

Strategy 221

Evaluation 221

Leveraging Lean Understanding in the HR Function 224

Outsourcing the HR Function 226

How To Manage the IT Function Successfully 227

Additional IT Duties for the Controller 229

Creating an IT Strategic Plan 230

IT Strategic Plan Principles 231

Information Technology Strategic Plan Outline 231

IT Benchmarking 239

Opportunities To Develop Efficiencies Within an IT Department 241

Lean IT Service Management 241

Staffing the IT Positions and Outsourcing 242

Staffing 242

Outsourcing 243


Overview 247

Principles of Change Management 248

Assessing Person and Business Readiness To Change 250

Phases of Change 251

Why People Resist Change 252

How To Communicate Change 254

Words We Use 255

Change Management for Teams and Projects 256

The Role of Top Management 257

Danger Signs That the Change Process Is Failing 258

Role of Attitudes, Thoughts, Feelings and Beliefs 259

Conclusion: Two Checklists for Managing Change in Business 260

CHANGE Approach Checklist 260

Prosci Change Management Planning Checklist 261


Communication Skills 263

Failure to Communicate 263

Purpose of Communication 264

Types of Communication 265

Improving Communication Skills 266

Listening 266

Speaking 267

Background of Other Party 268

Pitfalls in Communication 268

Understanding NLP 269

Uses of NLP 270

Three Main Learning Styles 271

Utilising NLP 271

Eye Accessing Cues 271

Body Language--Understanding the Unspoken 272

Improving Presentation Techniques 274

Financial Presentations Made Easy 274

Improving PowerPoint Skills 276

Managing Your Boss 277

11 SUMMARY 281

Introduction--Expanding Controller Value 281

Chapter 1--Controller vs. Business Manager 281

Chapter 2--Origin of Value and the Planning Continuum 282

Chapters 3 and 4--Corporate Culture, Business and Strategic Plans 282

Chapter 5--Lean, Best Practices, Data Into Knowledge 283

Chapter 6--Ethical Leadership 283

Chapter 7--Employees 283

Chapter 8--HR and IT Functions 284

Chapter 9--Project and Change Management 284

Chapter 10--Communication Skills 284