The Wall Street Journal carried an article this week discussing web spending tools, that is to say software that helps businesses control costs by telling them where they’re spending their money. It’s called procurement software and it sells for big bucks to big companies. Most companies are not big companies, and most of them can get the same results by learning how to read their own financial reports, IF they also learn how to ask for the information they don’t see in the standard forms their software spits out every month.

Too many managers are frustrated because they don’t see what they need or they don’t understand what they see and they don’t know what to do about it. They don’t understand what is possible and reasonable to expect from their financial departments, so they accept that it’s a different language and they lower their expectations. With all due respect to their skills, I call this Financial Illiteracy.
Some of the most creative CEOs I’ve known keep numbers on the back of an envelope – or the equivalent – because it’s the only think they understand. How sad is that? If you know anyone in that state of affairs, do them a huge favor. Tell them to call me.

As always, I welcome your comments.

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