November 2000

Controllership:The work of the managerial accountant (6th edition)

By James D. Willson, Janice M. Roehl-Anderson, and Stevcen M. Bragg

John Wiley & Sons, INc., 1999 with annual supplements, 1374 pp., &170

Reviewed by Allan M. Rabinowitz, CPA, Lubin School Of Business, Pace University

This gem of a reference book is a superb learning tool and a treasure trove of valuable ideas. Having evolved along with its subject area since its first edition in 1953, Controllership provides an excellent analysis of the multifaceted topic. The publisher, correctly sensing that the controllership function is changing and expanding at an unprecedented pace, has wisely chosen to update the volume with annual supplements.

The book is divided into seven parts and 64 chapters. Part One deals with the broad management aspects of controllership in 12 chapters on such topics as the controller's responsibilities, effective costing practices, globalization, and investor relations and contains sections on additional controller functions in smaller companies, managing explosive growth, preventing employee turnover, and dealing with fraud.

Part Two covers the planning function of controllership in five chapters that review strategic and long-range planning, the annual plan, profit planning, and tax planning. Part Three discusses planning and controlling operations in nine chapters on sales, marketing expenses, manufacturing costs, research and development, general and administrative expenses, payroll, and service companies. These chapters include an overview of benchmarking and offer many tips on general and administrative costs and payroll processing.

Part Four treats planning and control of the balance sheet in seven chapters on cash, short-term and long-term investments, receivables, inventories, capital assets, employee benefit plans, and liabilities. Part Five contains six chapters on financial and related reports including those for internal management, shareholders, governmental agencies, stock exchanges, and creditors.

Part Six appears to have expanded the most from the previous edition, and consists of 14 chapters on computer systems and related technology. Several chapters refer to selecting financial systems, software testing and package integration, electronic data interchange, information system security, digital signatures, change management, and project risk management.

Part Seven addresses administrative and special aspects of the controller's department and includes new chapters on inventory tracking, world-class accounting systems, outsourcing the accounting function, and 60 accounting best practices. Other chapters pertain to acquisitions, mergers and divestments, reengineering, policy and procedure manuals, records retention, tax records and procedures, risk management, and the reporting period and how to close it-including a new section on accelerated closing procedures.

The 118-page 2000 annual supplement has five chapters on the increasing demands being made on CFOs as facilitators of change and continuous improvement, implementing a human resources management system, shared services by companies, and advanced accounting systems. It also includes sections on the Internet, the paperless office, and proactive review of transaction and other processing cycles.

This book will be of interest to anyone concerned with accounting and finance who welcomes the prospect of gaining new insights about a rapidly changing field.

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