124 brilliant manager
Can you just rely on your organisation’s ﬁnancial systems? In a
word . . . no. There are several reasons.
There is a computing term called GIGO – garbage in,
garbage out. One reason for keeping your own books is to
spot the mistakes in the ofﬁcial ﬁgures.
You often need much simpler ﬁgures to control your team’s
operations, and in the company’s systems it will often be
difﬁcult to see the wood from the trees.
You will often need to drill-down into a particular part of
the ﬁgures to understand what appears to be an anomaly.
Corporate systems are often very poor at drill-down.
The organisation’s systems are structured to control the
ﬁnancial aspects that are key to the organisation, for
example control of cash ﬂow. Often you will share an
interest in those aspects, but will almost certainly have
other requirements that your organisation’s systems do not
Taking the last point a bit further, using the fast jet analogy
again – what instruments do you need? Do you need speed
and height? What else do you need? Work out what aspects of
the ﬁnances are really key to your team’s ﬁnancial health and
then set up your spreadsheets to monitor those aspects. It may
be current and future utilisation of staff; it may be the ﬂow of
incoming orders; it may be spend with subcontractors; it may be
cash ﬂows and invoicing.
There are a few tips I can offer.
Remember GIGO applies to your ﬁgures too. Try to cross-
check your ﬁgures for internal consistency, consistency with
reality (200 per cent utilisation is unusual), and consistency
with your organisation’s ﬁgures.
Don’t blindly trust your spreadsheets. They are only as
good as the formulae in them. It is easy to mistype formulae
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