Complex Made Simple

IMA Executive-in-Residence delivers keynote address at 3rd Regional MECA CFO Conference in Dubai

IMA (Institute of Management Accountants), one of the world’s leading associations representing the management accounting profession, has identified the key Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) trends that UAE CFOs must consider to ensure the continued success of their companies.

EPM is the integration of multiple managerial methods to improve an organisation’s strategic and operational performance. Delivering the keynote address at the 3rd Regional MECA CFO Conference in Dubai, Gary Cokins, IMA’s Executive-in-Residence, said the topic had recently taken on greater importance due to factors such as increased accountability, executive frustration with strategy failure, and the need to make speedy decisions.

“Managers today are drowning in data but are starved of information,” said Cokins. “Too many companies are doing the right things, such as profitability analysis, strategy maps and business analytics, but they are doing them in isolation. EPM is about bringing it all together. With many companies in the Gulf now competing on the global stage, getting this right has become a strategic imperative.”

Cokins noted a recent shift towards predictive accounting, with accountants making significant strides in improving the utility and accuracy of the costs they calculate and report. He said the trend is being caused by a shift in managers’ needs-from just needing to know what things cost (such as a product cost) and what happened to a need for detailed information about what their future costs will be and why.

He also urged CFOs to place equal emphasis on management accounting as on financial accounting to ensure leaders can make decisions that are not only better, faster and cheaper, but that are also smarter and safer.

Organised by the MECA CFO Alliance, the largest CFO networking group in the region, the conference brought together more than 200 CFOs and senior finance executives from the UAE, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Countries. Jim Gurowka, IMA Vice President of International Development, also took part in the event, joining a panel to discuss whether traditional finance can be relied upon for enterprise performance management.

Gary Cokins’ career spans 40 years as an internationally recognised expert, speaker and author in performance improvement systems, analytics and advanced cost management. Cokins, who earned a B.S. in industrial engineering from Cornell University in 1971 and an MBA from Northwestern University in 1974, began his career as a financial controller.

He then entered the management consulting field with Deloitte. Later he worked with KPMG, where he was trained on activity-based costing (ABC) by Harvard Business School Professors Robert S. Kaplan and Robin Cooper. While at KPMG, he worked with Dr. David Norton on research that led to the development of the Balanced Scorecard. He then moved to SAS, a leading provider of EPM and business analytics software, where he served as principal consultant.