Operational Accounting*

Importance of This Chapter

We have thus far discussed what the controller does, but is there a best way to do it? In this chapter, we address a variety of techniques for assigning responsibilities, streamlining workflow, correcting errors in a methodical manner, and so forth. By following this approach, the controller can achieve a high-performance accounting department within a relatively short period of time.

This chapter focuses on how to upgrade the accounting function so that it runs as a world-class department should. First we define the jobs of everyone in the department, then describe the creation of a very specific work schedule and staff meetings to follow up on particularly difficult problems. Then we move on to the proper treatment of accounting errors and how to avoid them, followed by a lengthy discussion of how to use best practices to improve operations. We also review the pluses and minuses associated with outsourcing selected functions within the department. By following these guidelines, a controller can create a confident accounting department that is thoroughly capable of quickly and accurately processing all assigned tasks.


The first step in running an accounting department is to determine who is responsible for each task. Without such a determination, there is no way to control the flow ...

Get The Essential Controller: An Introduction to What Every Financial Manager Must Know, Second Edition now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.