Time Management Expert, Event Speaker: Mark Lamendola

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Productivity Knowledge Base: Accountants--Show Them the Money

Accountants: Show Them the Money
How to get the bean counters to approve your productivity-enhancing purchases

So, you want to make a purchase that you know will increase productivity but you can’t get the bean counters to sign off on it. Don’t feel alone—this is a common problem. But, you say, "It will raise productivity? Why would they object to that?"

Now you’ve hit on something. There are reasons why the bean counters of the world have become skeptical of productivity claims. What they demand now is, "Show me the money." And that is what you must do. Now we’ll look at some tips for helping you do just that. You’ll find more complete treatment of this topic in our information-packed productivity newsletter.

  • Know the terrain. People in the accounting world have seen productivity claims not pan out. It’s their job to deal with facts, rather than assumptions or guesswork. So, you must give them facts.
  • Gather your facts. When you say you are going to "raise productivity," can you quantify that? For example, you want to buy a new conduit bender. How many manhours would it have saved on three typical projects you did last year? What was the labor cost of those manhours? What savings could you project over the first five years of owning this new tool? Would there be any quantifiable savings in scheduling or quality? Contact the manufacturer or service provider of something you are trying to buy and ask that party for advice on where to find cost-savings.
  • Do the math. Accountants don’t want to hear about the payback period. That figure doesn’t tell them anything about the cost of capital, the time value of the invested money, or the cashflows. They want to see the amount of money per month this purchase will cost, and the amount of money per month it will produce—this is the cashflow. They will also want to know the NPV (Net Present Value) of the money invested—this is essentially the time value of the money. If you aren’t familiar with these concepts, the our productivity seminars are essential for you!
  • Make your case. You might hate filling out the forms and writing up the request for a major purchase, but those forms and that write-up can be show-stoppers. Make a point of doing the best possible job on the paperwork. Think through exactly how you want to say something, making your speech as direct and clear as possible. Stress the benefits to the company, rather than stressing how this will make your job easier. If you haven’t had much luck getting approvals, ask to see an example of a request that did well. See what you can learn from it and apply to your own request.
  • Review and revamp. After you’ve filled out the forms and written up your request, set things aside for a day or so. Then, go back and read the material as though you were the accountant or manager signing off on this. Make any necessary tweaks.

That’s it in a nutshell. If you want the company to spend money on your productivity tools, you simply have to do some work upfront so that you give them good reason to follow your advice. Blaming the bean counters for not understanding your job is a bit backwards—it’s up to you to show them the money.


Do you want to radically improve how well people in your organization make use of the limited number of hours in each work day?

Contact me to arrange a time when we can talk about a presentation: mark@mindconnection.com. Why arrange a time? So I can give you full attention during the call. There's a really powerful time management tip. Ask me why it works.