#204: More Effective Decision-Making from a Better Appreciation of Cost with Gary Cokins

with Gary Cokins

Our Guest Mentor:

Gary’s earlier experience as a financial controller and operations manager and then fifteen years as a management consultant in Deloitte, KPMG, and EDS. Then sixteen years with SAS, the prominent business analytics and intelligence software vendor. He became internationally recognized as an expert speaker, author, and consultant in the “enterprise performance management (EPM)” and business analytics methods and systems.

Gary is the founder and CEO of Analytic Based Performance Management LLC and specialized in designing, integrating, and implementing analytics-based enterprise performance management (EPM) systems, including activity-based cost management (ABC/M), strategy maps, balanced scorecard, budgeting, customer economic value, risk management and supply chain management. Gary is an all-round finance professional with more than 25 years of experience in various positions including Consulting, Finance, HR, Purchasing and Travel.

Gary graduated BS Industrial Engineering and Operations Research at Cornell University. He took his MBA in Finance and Accounting at Northwestern University-Kellogg School of Management.

Key Quotes From the Episode: 

The highest form of direct accounting is project based accounting especially for construction and made to order type of business while ABC is for recurring and repetitive business processes.[12:46] 

[Young professionals to stay relevant] get out of the traditional recording, think like the line managers and give them information that they really need.[16:39] 

People like the status quo only babies like to change. [18:03] 

[Asking question] almost all questions create discomfort then offer a solution. [25:49] 

 (Other resources and how to connect with Gary below). 

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Key Points From the Episode:

    • A simple formula to overcome resistance to change
    • Tackle misconceptions about costing (and the difference to expenses)
    • How finance professionals can stay relevant; 
    • Mounting threats to accounting profession 

    Time Stamped Show Notes 

    [02:40] – Gary shares his career journey in three phases, first in a large FMC conglomerate as a division controller. Second, as consultant to Deloitte, KPMG and EDS. Next was with SAS, mostly in the accounting field and CFO.  

    [03:49] – An engineer masquerading as an accountant as Gary said. Management accounting is about creating value. 

    [04:47] – How Expenses and costs are not the same thing. All costs are calculated as you can do profit margin and net analysis.  

    [06:25] – Misconception about costing and activity based costing (ABC) that made some good companies bankrupt.   

    [10:31 We can do better to make sure the cost information we are using can drive the right decision making. 

    [12:31] – Project Accounting for construction or made-to-order type businesswhile ABC is good manufacturing or repetitive type business processes. 

    [14:36] – Professionals to stay relevant; 

    • get out of the box 
    • fill the shoes of line managers 
    • give them the information they need 

    [17:23] – Your role in involving your line managers in designing your systems and their buy-in to the system is crucial. 

    [16:02] – Change management are decisions made to predict and prepare the company’s future.  

    [21:31] – What’s holding us from helping line managers in making their predictive decision; 

    • resistance to change 
    • remove from their comfort zone 
    • fear of additional work 

    [22:03] – Make more time to provide relevant service with the help of automation and cloud technology. 

    [22:39] – FP&A professional can spare more time by; 

    • Closing the books more quickly 
    • adding one financial analyst   
    • stop budgeting 

    [24:51] – Best of bit of advice Gary ever received on asking questions to create discomfort. 

    [27:56] – Books that Gary recommend to our audience to read.  

    [29:05] – Artificial intelligence, robotics, process automation and learning cognitive software are all threats to accounting profession. 

    [29:56] – Get yourself certified to CGMA, AICPA and other certification in preparing for the threats to accounting profession.  

    [31:25] – Giving value to the organization especially to Sales and Marketing and Leadership. A sure way to mitigate threat to the accounting profession.  

    [34:05– Best way to connect to Gary. 

    [34:47] – Gary parting thoughts on Change Management. 

Resources Mentioned: 


Connect with today’s guest: 

LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/garycokins/ 

Website: www.garycokins.com 

Email address: gcokins@garycokins.com 


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