Looking for recommendations on effective resources for:

1) Understanding the basics of business numbers and financials (think human capital and ERP folks that don't have an understanding about basic financials COGS, operations margin, etc),

2) How to do basic MBA math (calculating COGS, contribution margin, etc) for non financial managers, and

3) understanding the levers of a business that drive the fincial numbers in the financial reports (common levers in manufacturing, services or other industries and how they addressing them will affect the financials) (e.g., in a retail and consumer company, stock outs are a lever that affects COGS)

Any help is greatly appreciated. Trying to help people past a pre-conceived syloed mentality that a functional person doesn't need to understand how what they do affects the overall health of the business.


agkshop AT hotmail DOT com

Jazzman's picture
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I don’t know of a magic bullet or book that will answer your need, but here are some suggestions:

  • First, what kind of learner are you?
    • Read & know: Then a book is may be best for you, a good book on Managerial Accounting is what you’re looking for.  Perhaps some of the others may have a recommendation. Another option is to look up course descriptions at your local university for what you’re looking for and go to the university bookstore and pick up the text for the class.  I’ll reply later with the text used for my MBA a couple of years ago.
    • Listen & discuss: You may really need to take a class with an instructor so you can hear the concept explained and ask questions when needed.  The instructor should also provide good examples for you to practice and reinforce.
    • Figure it out on your own: This is me.  I learn best by going through the path of discovery.  Guidance (like a class or mentoring) can help significantly speed the process.  For this, read the Wall Street Journal. The articles are structured so that the gory details are at the end.  Read the details…this helps you understand the supporting info that drives the leading part of the story.  For terms and topics you don’t understand, look them up (text, internet, or ask someone).  
  • Don’t be afraid to ask others for help within your organization!  The director of finance for IT in my company runs occasional classes called something like Finance for IT.  It provides great info about how IT finance works including capital/operational spending, how that hits the company balance sheet and income statement in different ways, and what we should be doing about it.
  • Ask in M-T. Mark and Mike have already provided a couple of financially-based podcasts…more would be great.  ;) The forum also may help you gain insight to any specific problems you’re having.


Jazzman's picture
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The textbook I mentioned above is: Managerial Accounting: Creating Value in a Dynamic Business Environment by Ronald W. Hilton.  Publisher: McGraww Hill Irwin.  I have Sixth edition.  I'm sure you can find this or the like on Internet pretty easily and cheaply ( or even Amazon).


jhack's picture

You might this thread and its links useful: 

John Hack

vadim's picture


you could start with the following books and then go deeper as your knowledge and interest increase:

The Definitive Guide to Business Finance: What smart managers do with the numbers (2nd Edition)
by Richard Stutely


The Definitive Business Plan: The fast track to intelligent business planning for executives and entrepreneurs (2nd Edition)

same author.