Monthly reporting: a basic component of any controller will be to assemble a ‘monthly pack’ that shows an easy and brief overview of the main P&L items and the highlights the non-financial management will be interested in.
VAT return – intrastat: although coming straight out of any accounting software, often the controller will be asked to check/sign off on this tax return. Intrastat needs to reconcile with certain boxes of the VAT return.
Forecast and budget: depending on the size of the organisation he works in, a controller will either produce or lead the forecasting process. This is important for a variety of reasons: from a cash planning perspective, communication with investors, goal setting for teams etc.
Deviations analysis: usually a part of the monthly report. Actual numbers, be it Month to date or Year to date, are being compared to budget, last years actuals, 12 month rolling average etc. Important part of the controller’s job!
Price controls, margin analysis/cost control: as the ‘financial conscience’ of the company, the controller will be the first one to focus on fluctuations in margins. First check will be on price: is there a price policy and has it been applied. If sales price is constant and margins fluctuating, there is another problem: cost of sales could have gone up, currency fluctuations or discounts may occur; almost no one else in a company will be able to analyse what is really going on, except the controller.
Investment and fixed asset follow up. The controller will install a management process where he will assess the investments made. The actual ‘capitalisation’ of the expense will need to be approved by him as well.
Performance management – KPIs – Balanced Scorecard: this goes hand in hand with the monthly reporting. As management by goals and by facts is just much easier, the controller will directly become part of any management when he goes through the exercise of setting up a balanced scorecard or KPIs. Typically he will also be the one to report against the goals set. As the controller is so close to this part of managerial tasks, he will easily be involved in any work around (financial) strategy.
Audit: finally, but not unimportant, preparing and participating in the audit is a yearly recurring task. Although most financial audits will focus on the bookkeeping and administration, you better be prepared to demonstrate you’re on top of your accounts. In bigger firms an internal audit is a good idea: either the controller assembles an expert group and asks them to audit a specific part of an organisation, or a permanent department of audit specialist exists within the company.