To most FP&A professionals and accountants there is confusion and a lack of consensus on how to allocate costs to products and service lines. I refer to this as “a mystery in a box to accountants”. To solve this mystery here are three lectures to accounting students from a skilled and experienced accountant – me – that explains the problem and how to solve it. For those who have already graduated from college and may even have a CPA, I encourage you to sit in the back of the lecture hall and audit these classes.
Generally, certified accountants have not had a reputation for deep involvement with operations, marketing, and sales management nor being a strategic advisor to their executive team, although articles by the media, consulting firms, and IT analysts have been claiming this is a trend and direction for them.
Traditional budgeting process normally starts with forecasting sales levels, cost of goods sold then all operation expenses until reaching to the proforma income statement without understanding how changes in costs (both variable and fixed) & sales will affect profits in future periods. But modern FP&A professionals started to implement CVP analysis during the annual profit plan to study the interaction of sales with variable & fixed costs on the profits received.
A financial plan is a product used for guiding people’s actions toward the accumulation of wealth. As a product a financial plan is created from a variety of sources. One source used for creating a financial plan is accounting.
Cost Accounting provides insight into the relationship between financial sacrifices and financial benefits. There are a number of elements within this discipline that support this relationship. FP&A stimulates thinking about activities that create sacrifices in order to create benefits. These activities develop a framework for understanding what organizations are doing and where they are going. The question is: which element of Cost Accounting develops a meaningful framework that links activities to understanding?