- This article uses content from the Wikipedia article on Management accounting under the terms of the CC-by-SA 3.0 license.
Management accounting or managerial accounting is concerned with the provisions and use of accounting information to managers within organizations, to provide them with the basis to make informed business decisions that will allow them to be better equipped in their management and control functions.
In contrast to financial accountancy information, management accounting information is:
- primarily forward-looking, instead of historical;
- model based with a degree of abstraction to support decision making generically, instead of case based;
- designed and intended for use by managers within the organization, instead of being intended for use by shareholders, creditors, and public regulators;
- usually confidential and used by management, instead of publicly reported;
- computed by reference to the needs of managers, often using management information systems, instead of by reference to general financial accounting standards.
According to the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), Management Accounting is "the process of identification, measurement, accumulation, analysis, preparation, interpretation and communication of information used by management to plan, evaluate and control within an entity and to assure appropriate use of and accountability for its resources. Management accounting also comprises the preparation of financial reports for non-management groups such as shareholders, creditors, regulatory agencies and tax authorities"(CIMA Official Terminology).
The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) recently updated its definition as follows: "management accounting is a profession that involves partnering in management decision making, devising planning and performance management systems,and providing expertise in financial reporting and control to assist management in the formulation and implementation of an organization’s strategy".
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants(AICPA) states that management accounting as practice extends to the following three areas:
- Strategic Management—Advancing the role of the management accountant as a strategic partner in the organization.
- Performance Management—Developing the practice of business decision-making and managing the performance of the organization.
- Risk Management—Contributing to frameworks and practices for identifying, measuring, managing and reporting risks to the achievement of the objectives of the organization.
The Institute of Certified Management Accountants(ICMA), states "A management accountant applies his or her professional knowledge and skill in the preparation and presentation of financial and other decision oriented information in such a way as to assist management in the formulation of policies and in the planning and control of the operation of the undertaking". Management Accountants therefore are seen as the "value-creators" amongst the accountants. They are much more interested in forward looking and taking decisions that will affect the future of the organization, than in the historical recording and compliance (score keeping) aspects of the profession. Management accounting knowledge and experience can therefore be obtained from varied fields and functions within an organization, such as information management, treasury, efficiency auditing, marketing, valuation, pricing, logistics, etc.
Role within a corporation
Consistent with other roles in today's corporation, management accountants have a dual reporting relationship. As a strategic partner and provider of decision based financial and operational information, management accountants are responsible for managing the business team and at the same time having to report relationships and responsibilities to the corporation's finance organization.
The activities management accountants provide inclusive of forecasting and planning, performing variance analysis, reviewing and monitoring costs inherent in the business are ones that have dual accountability to both finance and the business team. Examples of tasks where accountability may be more meaningful to the business management team vs. the corporate finance department are the development of new product costing, operations research, business driver metrics, sales management scorecarding, and client profitability analysis. See Financial modeling. Conversely, the preparation of certain financial reports, reconciliations of the financial data to source systems, risk and regulatory reporting will be more useful to the corporate finance team as they are charged with aggregating certain financial information from all segments of the corporation.
In corporations that derive much of their profits from the information economy, such as banks, publishing houses, telecommunications companies and defence contractors, IT costs are a significant source of uncontrollable spending, which in size is often the greatest corporate cost after total compensation costs and property related costs. A function of management accounting in such organizations is to work closely with the IT department to provide IT Cost Transparency.
Given the above, one widely held view of the progression of the accounting and finance career path is that financial accounting is a stepping stone to management accounting. Consistent with the notion of value creation, management accountants help drive the success of the business while strict financial accounting is more of a compliance and historical endeavor.
An alternative view
A very rarely expressed alternative view of management accounting is that it is neither a neutral or benign influence in organizations, rather a mechanism for management control through surveillance. This view locates management accounting specifically in the context of management control theory. Stated differently, Management Accounting information is the mechanism which can be used by managers as a vehicle for the overview of the whole internal structure of the organization to facilitate their control functions within an organization.
Management accounting tasks/ services provided
Listed below are the primary tasks/ services performed by management accountants. The degree of complexity relative to these activities are dependent on the experience level and abilities of any one individual.
- Rate and volume analysis
- Business metrics development
- Price modeling
- Product profitability
- Geographic vs. Industry or client segment reporting
- Sales management scorecards
- Cost analysis
- Cost–benefit analysis
- Cost-volume-profit analysis
- Life cycle cost analysis
- Client profitability analysis
- IT cost transparency
- Capital budgeting
- Buy vs. lease analysis
- Strategic planning
- Strategic management advice
- Internal financial presentation and communication
- Sales forecasting
- Financial forecasting
- Annual budgeting
- Cost allocation
- CAM-I Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing–International
- AICPA Financial Management Center – Resource for CPAs working in business, industry and government.
- Institute of Management Accountants – Resource for Management accountants (CMA's) working in industry.
- Chartered Institute of Management Accountants – Chartered Institute of Management Accountants
- Stars Computers Ltd | Practice Management Software - Leading accountancy firm in management software
- * "Taking Control of IT Costs". Nokes, Sebastian. London (Financial Times / Prentice Hall): March 20, 2000. ISBN 978-0-273-64943-4