A Call to Accounting

May 13th 2008
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By Chris Wood, CPA - So my boss just tagged me with a project to teach fundamental accounting to our management and supervisor team. They include the plant manager and all the departmental supervisors, the quality department, human resources, engineering, and more. It contains the basics such as definitions of assets, liabilities, equity, income and expenses. I will go over the assets equal liabilities plus owners’ equity. I will talk about accruals and the matching principle. I’ve been in accounting for 26 years with big 4, local and regional public accounting, manufacturing industry, and private consulting experience, so this can’t be hard. Can it?

It so happens I have some experience at this. I have been teaching an eight hour advanced Excel CPE course for four years now and I have also been presenting one hour breakout sessions for the Ohio Society of CPA’s various conferences and seminars. I have presented Pivot Tables, An Introduction to Excel 07, Access Queries, Advanced Functions, and Tips and Tricks. You can see Tips & Tricks at the Accounting Show in Dayton on Thursday May 22. My shameless plug says go here for more details:


The course has evolved over the years. You get a feel that participants didn’t care for this but were wowed by that, so I substitute that for this. Over the years I’ve had my problem students too. The old 80-20 rule works here, 20% of the students take 80% of your time. I’ve had some instances were a student had NO business taking my class because the fundamentals weren’t there. However, in all cases the student chose to be there. They paid to get specific knowledge that I hope I delivered. There was the time that I presented at a seminar that didn’t have separate breakout sessions. There was an “A&A Update”, “What’s New in Taxes”, and me doing “Advanced Functions”. I remember I was demonstrating the INDIRECT function, and how it could be used to switch a comparison of actual vs. budget to actual vs. forecast with a selection from a validation list. I was getting some ohs and ahs from a few participants that genuinely seemed excited about it, but as I gazed over the rest of the say 100 people out there, I could tell that most of them were tax practitioners, financial planners or public auditors that were bored out of their gourd.

To keep the captive non-accountants from being too bored I have included a series of transaction cycles that will show the various department heads financial ramifications that can be expected as it relates to their job. For instance, here is what happens Ms. Purchaser when you accept an overshipment of stock from a supplier, or here’s the result Mr. Supervisor when you run out that coil of steel on the same job when some of it was meant for another order. I want to show them how they have an impact on the financial statements which are the basis of where everybody is ultimately judged in the Company.

John Adams once said ‘Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people”. I like to think that what’s true in politics holds true for business too. “Financial success cannot occur without a broad comprehension of accounting among the employees.”


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