Project Management

How General Accountants can help you

From the The Money Files Blog
A blog that looks at all aspects of project and program finances from budgets, estimating and accounting to getting a pay rise and managing contracts. Written by Elizabeth Harrin from

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In my last video I talked about the role of the Accounts Payable team and how they can help you as a project manager. There’s another team in the Finance department that can also help you, and that is the team that are the general accountants who maintain the books for the company because they will be doing some reports on the finances that you can then compare to your own reports.

Again, in a large company you may well have a team of accountants, capital accountants tend to deal with capital expenditure and the majority of project expenditure, at least under UK regulations, would come under capital expenditure. So you may well have capital accountants and accountants that deal with other things or you may have a multi-functional accountant who does all kinds of expenditure tracking as part of his or her daily role.

As a project manager you’ll be tracking your project expenditure especially for goods and services for the things that you buy for carrying out your project. But you are not the only person in your company who has an interest in how the company’s money is being. The accts will also be looking at overall where the organisation’s money is going. They will then keep a track, and if they can keep a track of the money that is related to your project, perhaps with a particular project code, you can then compare the reports that coming out of the Finance department from the accountants with your own project logs.

That’s really important as it’s quite likely that the company’s senior stakeholders will take what is recorded on the Finance reports as the final state of play. After all, they are the accountants, they know exactly what invoices have been paid and they know everything there is to know about accruals. And your spreadsheet is likely to just be a list of things that the project has spent. So in terms of recognising expenditure in terms of formal accounts, what the accountants have is likely to be the truth, at least in the eyes of the senior stakeholders.

So every so often I would recommend that you find the accountant who is responsible for tracking the area of the company where you project falls and sit down with him or her and compare your reports, your tracking spreadsheet with the data that that person is reporting as part of the overall company expenses.

I have done that recently and it is very interesting to see where there is a discrepancy. And we did find a discrepancy and we then found out what the issue was and why the two sets of reports were different. So it’s important to be able to dig down into the data if you do find problems and make sure you are on the same page as your company Finance team.

Posted on: October 18, 2012 03:09 AM | Permalink

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