New Systems of Survival ; Management Accountants Have to Be on Top of the Latest Developments in IT
Murray, Janet, The Independent (London, England)
"Management accountants provide information to help make decisions about the running of a business. To produce the data managers need - often qualitative as well as quantitative - they may need to use sophisticated IT systems," says Louise Ross, advisory accountant at the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).
Management accountants have to use their judgement about what information is needed by their company directors, and how to collect, analyse and present it. They need to understand their company's information needs, design systems capable of collecting information and consider how to present it to management in the most appropriate format.
In this age of information, the collection and analysis of data needs to be undertaken quickly and intelligently, and that is why information technology is at the forefront of modern management accountancy. When studying for their CIMA qualification, management accountants learn the principles of financial and management accountancy. Financial accounting software covers basic book- keeping functions, aimed at producing final published accounts information and controlling fixed assets, while specific management accountancy software applications include budgeting, costing and forecasting, and investment appraisal.
As they grow in experience, management accountants may become involved in system design, as part of an in-house team; or will draw up the specifications for bespoke solutions provided by external suppliers. They are also often involved in the integration of different IT systems.
Despite what amounts to a strategic IT approach akin to a "systems analyst", management accountants are not generally "techies". They don't need to be able to build computers or write programs, but they do need to understand how IT can serve their organisation. Information technology is a key feature of the CIMA syllabus, but the fact that students are asked to explain the processes of system design, evaluate the use and relative merits of different hardware or analyse and identify opportunities for the use of information technology in organisations, speaks volumes about the management accountant's relationship with IT. …