In the new business environment, such organizations are setting a business strategy to achieve competitive advantage for long run. However, CEOs and executive managersare most likely take the responsibility to ensure work flow in an organization. Recently, researchers have shown that failure and success factors of any business back to the wrong decision making regarding the available financial resources or strategic technique in order to measure business performance.
MID Contracting is one of the leading companies in construction industry. It was established in 1991, the headquarter office based in Amman, Jordan. MID contracting operates in many countries in the middle east and gulf region such Iraq and Qatar. It aims to create value for current and future customer, and to receive the international recognition to achieve its vision. MID Contracting has got ISO certificate in the quality and environment management.
The purpose of this essay to identify the major source of long term of finance used by MID Contractingcompany, and attempt to assess the advantages and disadvantages clearly and accurately for each source. It will also suggest a suitable alternative source could be used, with accurate assessment advantages and disadvantages. Then it will evaluate the role of management accountant critically, and to discuss the source of information they have, and how effectively this information is used.
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Finally, the essay will identify and evaluate analytical technique used by MIDContracting in performance management, and planning and controlling. It will also discuss another analytical tool as suitable alternative
2.0 source of finance:
Business has different types of sourcesto finance their operations. It has two options; internal sources and external sources. In internal sources, directors and managers have the authority to use inside sources of finance without take a permission from shareholder such as retained profit. In contrast, external sources used to obtain more funds from outside business, such as borrowing from a bank. They are divided into short term sources and long term source. Short term sources are those offer finance up to one year. On the other hand, long term sourcesare those offer finance over one year. (Atrill&McLaney, 2008)
"choosing the financing mix of short and long term debt and equity that best meets the investment requirement of a business is a key element of financial management".(Pike & Neale, 2003)
The majority of contracting companies would access to long term sources of finance. These resources may provide a significant liquidity to expand into new markets, purchase new equipment or machinery.
This section will identify two primary long term sources for financing business, and assess the potential advantages and disadvantages.
Term secured loan is one of the long term sources may be used by MID Contracting company. According to Weston & Brigham (1987) term loan defined as "a contract under which a borrower agrees to make a series of interest and principle payments on specific dates to the lender". The contract determines the maturity date, usually ranged between 3 to 15 year. The interest rate of the loan could be fixed or variables. In short, it is loan negotiated on collateralized asset. The collateral could be land, plan,and equipment.
Term loan has many advantages. Since it is a contract between two parties the borrower (business) and the lender (usuallya bank), it would be managed quickly.(Atrill&McLaney, 2008) Bank could provide cash promptly based on the business demand. Sometimes business may need cash immediately to cover some expenditures. Secured loans may enable business to control their projects without any partner. Otherwise, the lender does not have right to control over the business process.
Another benefit generated from term loan that it is flexible. As result of rapid changes in the economic climate, the interest rate could be affected moving up or down, the lender and the borrower may sit together to negotiate the terms under contract either changeable or amendable. Thecontract may allow the business to draw part of the money, therefore the interest amount will be paid on the required amount(Atrill& McLaney, 2008).Loan repayments derived from profits or cash flow should be paid on monthly basis,it may help the business to plan and monitorthe cash flows. Moreover, from tax perspective, financial statements shows that amount of interest paid are tax deductable, so that the values of taxes have been reduced.
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On the other hand, secured term loan as long term source has disadvantages. However,secured loan may be much costly on the business which makes them to pay high interest rate. The secured assets could be lost, whenthe business could not beobligated on the loan repayments in the agreed maturity date. Moreover, failing in evaluating the project may lead to require money more than the business need. Furthermore, the interest rate could be changed up, which the obligation might increase more than expected.Business should provide the lender relevant and reliable information about the business. Lender uses the information to evaluate the risk on return for the business. They could require more information about the project to be sure that business able to meet the requirements. The business may limit dividend payment to the shareholders during the loan period.
Another long term source used by MID Contracting is sales and leaseback. It is form of finance lease. Sales and leaseback can be defined as an agreement allow the business to sell property( e.g. equipment, building or other asset) to financial institution and give the right to the seller torent it back for specific timeunder acontract of hire long-term and rate agreed upon by both parties (Atrill & McLaney, 2008). Thus, the seller is committed to long-term lease, and continues to use the facility and obtain the cash to finance operations or expansion.The ownership of the asset transferred to the buyer andensures a source of steady income. The contract usually lasting between 15-20 years, with renewable or repurchase option. The market value should be determined in the tenancy agreement. Usually the rent payments are fixed on monthly basis.
Sale and leaseback may help the business to release the capital of funds to reinvest in other activities to create high returns. It may enable business to concentrate on managing the assets instead of own it(Atrill&McLaney, 2008). There are such potential benefits combined with using sale-and-leaseback as long term source of finance.Business may gain cash immediately from sale the property, by converting equity to cash. Furthermore, the credit position and also the balance sheet could be improved. Usually, lease payments have been fixed, so it would be tax deducted.
On the other hand, it should take into account, sale and leaseback has disadvantages.Once the agreement is signed, the flexibility of the property ownership could be lost to the buyer,such as changing the employment of the property. Moreover, the sale-leaseback often confine the seller's right to transfer the leasehold interest, and even if potential,generally it is more difficult to eliminate a leasehold interest than a fee-ownership interest. Also, the new landlord can acquire more benefits from any development or improvement to the property at the end of lease.
2.1 Alternative source of finance:
MID Contracting has been working within dynamic environment. They need to meet customer needs and satisfaction to keep growing in the construction industry. Thus they need to increase finance capital which is needed to build new projects and building to achieve corporate strategy. This part will suggest an alternative source of finance could be used by MID Contracting company.
Bonds are one of the long term sources of finance. Bonds as debt instrument, it is long term contract between the business (issuer) and the investor (holder)who purchased specific unites. The issuer should pay back the amount (bond principle) with interest rate (coupon payment) to the holder in the maturity date. Sometime it is called loan notes. However, the price of bond is determined by face value which is the amount paid to the holder at maturity. Bonds period may last to 15 years or more. Moreover, the bond holder can sell his/her units to another person before reaching thematurity date with higher interest rate, especially when the business get profits and has a good reputation. Bonds usually listed in the stock exchange market.
As many sources of finance, there are advantages and disadvantages of using bonds. The holder can predict the amount of interest rate which will be received. When the business issues bonds, it allows them to control own assets and use the holder's money instead of its own. The holders do not have any power or permission on business's ownership, and they cannot claim to management control.
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However, bonds disadvantages should be taken into account. Issuing bonds are more time consuming than others loans. Bonds payments usually take long time to received by the holder, so they are aware to decrease the risk combined with bonds. Another drawback, the issuer may have no relations with the holders as a bank, that bank can monitor the cash flow of the business and reschedule the repayments under required.
3.0 The role of management accountant:
However, it would seem that management accounting plays a significant role in the firm. It has concerned about providing required information to the different levels of management to make decisions.
Management accounting could be defined as "the internal business-building role of accounting and finance professionals who design, implement, and manage internal systems that support effective decisions, and support, plan, and control the organization's value-creating operations" (CIMA, 2011). From the definition, we can see that management accountant has concerned with analysing different type of information, in order to provide the management a detailed picture on business achievements and assess the alternatives for forecasting.
Management accountant may seek information to internal users to make decision. They may concern about financial statements to assess the past performance and evaluate the business position. On the other hand, non- financial information has been affected the management accountant to focus forward rather than backward (Hopper et al. 2007). The integrated information could help management accountant to understand and increase knowledge about the business to support management action or decision.
It would seem that business has been working beyond barriers in a complex and advanced environment. Information technology and competing globally have affected in the nature of information and the ability to capture all possible sources, in order to measure the organization's performance to sustain competitive advantage (Tilly & Charles, 2008). Colin (2007) stated that changing in the business environment, mangers need an accurate information to help them in making decision and monitoring process in the business. However, Atrill (2008) believed that management accountant should be efficient and collect information about customers' needs and satisfaction (customer oriented), as well as the competitors to keep competitive advantage and transfer products and/or services.
The role of management accountant depends on the size of the business, technology, the management structure (Byrne & Pierce, 2007). Based on some studies, Loo et al.(2010) stated that management accountant role as a "bean counter" has changed over years, to become "business advocates" (Loo et al., 2010) or "business partner" ( Byrne & Pierce, 2007). In recent days, management accountant has been involved in the strategy formulation, operational research (Byrne & Pierce, 2007).
Kaye (2001) stated that management accountant collect and record data as scorekeeping, provide information to pay attention the management about any threat or opportunity (attention directing), and assist to solve current or potential problems (problem solving). Weber and his colleagues (2011) stated that economic changes may affect in the roles of management accountant to be more aware to minimize risk and downsize costs (Weber et al, 2011). Management accountant should assess the available information to boost the profits and develop the efficiency of the business. [http://ezinearticles.com/?Management-Accounting, last accessed 11/03/2012].
Decision making, controlling, and planning functionshave been considered as the main roles of management accountant (Sizer, 1989).Management accountant could take role in decision making. They may compare expenses (cost) and revenues from different resources, to measure the profits or losses from the operations. However, management accountant maybe concern about cost information, as an accounting language. It could be used to formulate strategy and make assessment of performance in the previous year. Moreover, information can be used to make decision regarding to product or service provided by business, for example pricing, product mature, evaluate costs (Kaplan & Atkinson, 1998). It may also help to set a long run strategic to keep growth and maximize the profits such as investment in new projects, enter new market, product/service innovation. (Drury, 2007)
In the planning stage, management accountant can be involved to convert the business objectives and aims to defined actions. Planning could be short term such as budgeting, which managers may use it to monitor and assess the performance. In the controlling stage, management account would be able to match between desire objectives with actual performance. When the performance has measured, the feedback should be provided to the managers to evaluate the outcomes, and focus on the efficiency/effectiveness for their business (Drury, 2007).
Management accountant may use all available information to meet manager's needs.Information reports may be required on daily, monthly, or even quarterly basis. It should be relevance to forecast events in the coming years, or to analyze the past performance. it should be also accurate, that accountant has to check the information from mistakes. Moreover, the reports should be clearly and understandable from the users (Atrill&McLaney, 2008). Management accountant could be aware to provide financial information such as cost, sales, net income, using currency terms (Pound, Euro) and operational (non-financial) information such as units, hours(Jackson et al., 2008). According to Byrne & Pierce (2007) management accountant can be working alongside operational accountant to assess the risk and to be involved in the production and manufacturing process.
There are numbers of variables have been affected in the role of management accountant such advanced information technology, and globalization (Hopper et al., 2007). Kaye (2001) revealed that management accountant might be encouraged to engage with new technology to be efficient and effective by using all available resources to gather all possible information (Kaye, 2001). Tilly & Charles (2008) argued that using business intelligence may allow management accountant to access and analyze valuable information to improve making decision and keep one step over competitors. It would appear that engaging within advanced information technology might minimize wasted time and effort to collect and process possible data to present suitable information. It may also reduce the request of external financial reports.
4.0 Analytical tools:
Every business needs to meet customer's satisfaction and aware about the external environment to keep growth and boost profits. Business identifies and establishes specific aims and mission which reflect the reason of its existence. However, business needs to determine strategic objectives in order to achieve its mission. Managers create a business plans to ensure that business goals can be achieved in systematic approach. Developing plans may consider uncertainty environment where business cannot expected Mission and strategic objective usually set for long term, top management would need a tool that can provide them a framework to measure performance in short term. Business has some analytical tools and techniques can help managers in decision making, and to measure performance activities. Budgeting is one of these tools may be used MID Contracting company. Budget can be defined as "a quantitative expression of the planned money inflows and outflows that reveal whether the current operating or business plan will meet the organization's financial objectives" (Atkinson et al., 2007). Master budget may consist of two main budgets; operating budget which concerned about operations activities and expenses such as sales, production. Financing budget which considers cash resources and obligations such bank borrowing, cash flow, and sources of finance.
Atrill (2008) stated that setting budget for short term plans (usually one year) help business to accomplish strategic objectives. Drury (2004) mentioned that budget has been involved in the long term plan. Budgeting may consider as a tool of the planning and controlling process. All levels of managerial departments could be involved in setting their own budget to reach overall general budget. However, management accountant may play a significant role in decision making, by providing reliable and relevant information which may be needed to managers for setting budget (Atrill, 2008). Budgeting has a several functions may help managers and business as following points:
A budget may enable mangers to identify forthcoming potential issues that may be discovered during planning process. It allows mangers to find rational solutions to these problems in early stage (Atrill&McLaney, 2008). It also provides managers to identify indications of risks and opportunities that combined with activities.
The budget also may aid to coordinate activities among all business's departments and units budgets to improve productivity. For example, when sales department sets out its budget, it should take the consideration the financial resources which may be explained in the finance department budget (Atrill&McLaney, 2008).
Involving staff in setting budget may help to motivate mangers and other employees to meet business objectives, and improve work performance. Business might use bonus or incentive methods to increase the commitment toward business objectives.
Moreover, budgets can be used as control tool. Manager may use budget to assess the performance by comparing actual results with desired outcomes. In this stage, management by exception used by top management to analyze the activities and results that have not met the planned performance. It may enable lower level managers to apply self-monitor on their works and how they have achieved. They should aware what expected to do and what they have done (Atrill&McLaney, 2008).
A budget can allow managers to forward thinking to allocate resources and capabilities to increase the efficiency, productivity, sustain competitive. For example, when managers want to expand their operation by opening new branches, they should take into account the available resources and the profitability (Putra, 2008).
Drury (2004) stated that budget enables managers to evaluate the performance in the previous year. Comparing the planned and actual results can assist to estimate if they fit with the budget. Evaluating performance may affect the behavior and the ability of the managers. Joshi (2003) stated that manager evaluate the budget on monthly or quarterly basis.
Budget can enhance communication in the organization. Managers can collect and share information with other departments which is essential to set budget.
On the other hand, manager may face some problems when setting budget plan:
It can reveal a challenge between managers that may reduce the efficiency. Managers may blame each other when the department has failed to achieve the expected result. In this case, motivation and coordination may be reduced between departments.
When managers set the budget they focus on financial results. Quality and customer services that provided by the business have not been considered in the budget plan.It may consider subjective information.
In addition, budget planners would tend to estimate that expenses (outflows) exceed the revenues (inflows).
Another disadvantage, management might set easy targets and goals to achieve which lead to decrease the performance of the staff. Moreover, staff may feel stress or unconfident when the budgeting goals have been complex or hard.
Budget may no longer consider as a strategic plan. Managers are more likely set budget for one year ahead.
4.1 The balance scorecard:
However, MID Contracting works in a competitive environment. Budget may be considered as financial measurement tool about past period and cost reduction. It should use strategic analytical tools in order to achieve its strategic objectives in long term. It would be better to change budget with a management system that can ensure measure financial (expenses/revenues) and non-financial (TQM, JIT) performance.
The balanced scorecard could be an alternative performance approach that MID Contracting probably can use. In 1992 the balanced scorecard was introduced by Drs. Kaplan and Norton to measure performance of the organization. The balanced scorecard can be defined as "a strategic planning and management system that is used extensively in business and industry, government and nonprofit organizations worldwide to align business activities to the vision and strategy of the organization, improve internal and external communications, and monitor organization performance against strategic goals" (Sharma, 2009). Using scorecard enables managers to measure the business performance and how the employee add value to the customers.
On one hand, the balanced scorecard can be an integrated system which mixes between financial measurements in past and future achievements (future-oriented). On the other hand, it has not forgotten to measure operational objectives.It may give the organization opportunity to apply its strategic objectives and vision linked with performance measurement. Organization, however, considers four main perspectives to outline performance; financial perspective, customer perspective, internal business perspective, and growth and learning perspective.(see appendix 1).
The balanced scorecard provides acomprehensive view which enable management to gain different information about business. Kaplan and Norton (2001) believed that organization has been failed to increase the profitability and product awareness, because it has focused on tangible assets with eliminating intangible assets that would add value. As it is the core element in balanced scorecard,management and employees should be involved in formulating and implementing strategy, and must understand where organization is going. Using balanced scorecard may help manager to measure the value added to customer service, shareholders, employees for long term. Scorecard would be considered as communication and learning tool rather than controlling (Kaplan & Norton, 1996). It may also encourage management to improve business process to deliver customer needs in targeted market and achieve financial target.
In conclusion, balance scorecard can be an ideal technique for MID Contracting to measure performance as strategic tool instead of budgeting. As the company operates in a dynamic and competitive environment, balance scorecard may help to motive employees to be efficient and keep growing to improve the productivity, innovative, and increase financial objective which linked with corporate strategy and vision.
It can be seen that managers have responsibility to evaluate business choices and market demands in order to make the best decisions in financing and accounting. As discussed above, accountant managers role has changed over years from score-keeping to problem solving which enable them to involve in decision making, planning, and controlling. managers need to analyse source of finance which can be used, assess the risk and return, and take into account the overall account. In order to sustain competitive among competitors, business need to use short and long term analytical tool for performance measurement.
Balance scorecard methodology (Appendex.1)