By asking the right questions and using your talents and strengths as an accountant, you can become a valuable ally and asset to the project management team in your organization. You can help to drive the company’s strategic vision while protecting your organization from financial risk.
Working with project managers, who may be from marketing, IT, or other departments, accountants often help to ensure that project budgets are met. However, you can provide so much more value. Accountants have a special knack for understanding the workflow within an organization. Chalk it up to knowing where the money flows in and out, but the accounting team can be the organizational experts on who does what, when and how.
That information is essential for project managers struggling to align processes and people with project goals and milestones. Accountants understand the risks, controls, and other details that can help projects move smoothly through the organization. They know how work gets done internally and can guide project managers around any potential pitfalls and obstacles.
How Accountants Can Add Value to Project Management
- Learn Project Management Methodology
Accountants who wish to add value to the project management team must learn the language of project management. There’s a specific methodology unique to project management that has proven successful.
Projects are mapped with a specific workflow in mind. There is a beginning, middle or milestones to reach, and a stated goal which marks the end. The overall project map can be called a charter or project plan. The project manager will organize, guide, and as the name implies, manage a project from start to finish, ensuring that timelines, milestones, and budgets are met. The biggest help you can give the project manager is to be objective while reviewing the project map or charter. Your objective viewpoint, from the perspective of a managerial accountant, can help correct any faulty assumptions and keep projects on track.
- Participate from the Start
It is important that accounting participates in project plans from the start. Don’t wait until the project is near completion and the project manager needs help finding additional funds to complete it. You can add the greatest value to a project near the project kickoff, as well as in the middle when the project may need changes or additions. Instead of coming in at the last minute to help with final budgeting, work alongside the team from the start to guide and advise on process and budgets.
- Manage Project Risks
Accountants, used to managing risk, can add value to the creation of a project plan or charter by assessing and identifying potential risks for the project manager.
- Stay involved with the project. Attend meetings of the project team and review any documents, emails, or other materials promptly.
- Ask questions like an auditor. Key stakeholders in project meetings can help identify the most important project milestones to focus on.
- Be aware of workload dips and spikes and accommodate the crunch periods with additional help.
- Identify project scope creep or when the work moves outside of the intended project. Gently guide it back into scope with the help of the project manager.
Project management and accounting don’t need to be at odds. Instead accounting can be a valuable member of the team driving strategic success.
Accounting Systems Incorporate (ASI)
Accounting Systems Incorporated (ASI) provides ERP, accounting, and other software and systems to help your company grow. We focus on helping small to mid-sized companies improve operational efficiencies through the power of software and technology. Software such as Sage 100 and Acumatica ERP can provide the business intelligence you need to grow your company. For more information, visit our website, or call us at 803-252-6154.