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Brilliant Manager, 3rd Edition by Dr. Nic Peeling

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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
support.
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
M06_PEEL3231_03_SE_C06.indd 124 20/09/2010 14:45
Organising your team 125
or to write a formula that is plausible but wrong (if tax is
15 per cent then a without-tax price is not 15 per cent less
than the with-tax price). It is always worth getting someone
experienced to check your spreadsheet design.
If you are inexperienced then ask someone experienced
what the classic pitfalls are (exclusive of tax versus inclusive
of tax; forgetting that everyone takes leave in the summer;
not making a realistic allowance for how long invoices take
to raise and be processed; etc.).
Don’t forget that the measure of a good set of spreadsheets
is that they alert you to problems in good time. This means
that you will need to be projecting your key financial
indicators into the future. In order for this to work, you
have to keep the data in your spreadsheets up to date.
Delegating responsibilities
What to delegate
The first thing to stress is that the organisation of your team has
to be built around the skills of the staff you have or the staff you
can recruit. The approach of designing an idealised team struc-
ture, and then trying to fill all the posts within that structure,
can only work if the team is large enough so that you are likely
to find enough staff with the requisite skills. Given that this book
is aimed at the lowest level of managers in an organisation, you
will do much better to build a team structure around the people
you have to hand.
You need to focus on the fact that you will only have a limited
number of staff who can lead a project or task and be relied on
to bring it in successfully. Say you have five such staff, then you
can only do five things really well – so make sure those five staff
are working on the five most important roles. You will then have
to manage the fact that other tasks are quite likely not to run
smoothly.
M06_PEEL3231_03_SE_C06.indd 125 20/09/2010 14:45

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