The Essentials of Finance and Accounting for Nonfinancial Managers
Fields, Amacom, 2016, 336 pp.,
$19.95 (third edition, book).
This book is written for business people by business people. It helps impart the financial knowledge needed to understand decision making to everyone within the organization. The book explains what accountants do—not how to do it.
The author has divided his treatment into four main parts: understanding financial information, analysis of financial statements, decision making for profitability and additional financial information. The purpose and practice of accounting also are defined. The most common types of accounting practices and procedures are presented and each variation explained with advantages and disadvantages highlighted. Where issues between accounting and finance and the rest of organization can occur, the differing viewpoints are offered and reviewed.
Fields completes his instruction by offering general observations on financial practices and suggests strategies for new organizations with guidance on borrowing and planning the budget, and things to watch out for with respect to lessons learned from the 2008 to 2010 economic recession. He follows with appendixes containing "Practice in Constructing Financial Statements," a definition quiz and several case studies with pointed questions and answer keys. The book ends with a glossary and a useful index.
While this is not a primer on how to start an organization, or how to run it financially, it is an extremely cost effective way to learn what accountants and the CFO are talking about so you can understand their decisions and contribute appropriately.
Marc A. Feldman
Implementation Through 5S: Laying the Foundation for
Drew Willis, Productivity Press, 2016, 128 pp., $29.95 (book).
Drew Willis’ explanation of 5S is a quick-read textbook on organization and organizational skills. The concepts explained and demonstrated in this text are universal. This is a great manual for an experienced lean practitioner as well as a new, front-line team member. Willis is humorous and conversational in his writing while remaining focused.
The plan-do-check-act (PDCA) model is thoroughly explained and referred to throughout the text. Early in the book, the seven (or eight) wastes are presented as opportunities—not problems—for improvement, providing a picture of the psychological change required to adapt 5S in the lean environment. Out of PDCA and the wastes, the author shows the difference between a traditional line of thinking and a process-focused approach. Detailed, colorful and clear flowcharts explain these concepts well.
After PDCA is explained and the wastes are identified, the reader is exposed to the concept and importance of standardized work, job aids, standard operating procedures and a focus on training for comprehension as keys to ensuring a lasting, sustainable transition into a lean organization.
The next section covers team formation, potential training or education on lean concepts for the uninitiated, and a breakdown of the important qualities a team requires for success. The team is rounded out with all necessary stakeholders, process analysis can begin.
Finally, the author promotes the project team’s work by explaining the importance of lessons learned, documentation and sharing success stories. Class training, updates to all required documents, and a full debriefing of key stakeholders show that once a process has undergone application of 5S, the gains made will not be lost. Overall, Willis’ text serves as a well-organized and completely-illustrated description of how 5S should be used for sustainable, continuous process improvement.
RFID and Sensor Network Automation in the Food Industry: Ensuring Quality and Safety Through Supply Chain Visibility
Selwyn Piramuthu and Wei Zhou, Wiley-Blackwell, 2016, 320 pp., $199.95 (book).
As the name implies, the main focus of this book is the application of radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology which, by using electromagnetic fields, enables the producer to identify and track food items such as meat, fruit and dairy products through a tag attached to the packaging on a real-time basis. The use of this technology allows monitoring of products’ temperature as they are transported through the supply chain to ensure they reach the consumer in safe condition for consumption.
The book is structured in three parts. Part one introduces RFID history with a detailed description and overview of relevant technologies and the integration of these technologies in the food industry. It discusses the challenges such as implementation cost, privacy and security issues, and out-of-date technologies resulting in unpredictable returns on investment and potential difficulties resulting from incompatibility with the rest of the supply chain.
Part two deals with RFID in food production, the supply chain, retailing and sustainability. It covers the application of the RFID-enabled sensor network in agriculture, food processing, food supply-chain management and RFID in food retailing. This part also covers the impact and the role of RFID in reducing food waste, carbon-footprint management and life cycle sustainability assessment.
Finally, part three addresses food quality, safety and policy. It outlines the future role of RFID and sensor networks in good manufacturing practice with the aim of preventing food spoilage and extending food shelf life by using biosensors and microbial detection methods.
With the increasing need of having effective and manageable food-control systems throughout the food supply, it is clear that RFID and specifically RFID-enabled sensor networks technology play a major role in this arena. This book is a valuable resource providing an in-depth view of this technology and one that can be used by any organization and or individual that has the interest in or bears the responsibility for ensuring safety and quality of food products from agricultural production to consumption.
Denise E. Robitaille, ASQ Quality Press, 2016, 168 pp., $30 member, $50 list (third edition, book).
It was my pleasure to review the last edition of this book on by the author in January 2011. And this current version on ISO 9001:2015 continues to get back to the basics of the new standard. While this book is titled for small and medium-sized businesses, most organizations could benefit from it.
Most professionals who read this book will think, "I already know the basics, why do I need to go back to them?" It's because the basics in this book make perfect sense, and organizations still need to get back to the basics. The book has familiar chapters on:
What ISO is and an overview of the ISO 9001:2015 standard.
Chapters explaining each of the standard's new sections.
But this is where the similarity ends. The author uses simple and practical language explaining the intent of the standard that I have not seen in other books. She starts with an overview of the 11 quality management principles that ISO 9001:2015 is built on and how they must be incorporated into an organization’s quality management system.
The book provides examples that get back to the basics such as:
Looking at processes with fresh eyes and conducting refresher training.
Measuring only where it is applicable. There is no requirement to measure all processes.
Understanding that a management review is not a passive activity. All should be involved in reviewing, revising and decision-making.
The book is practical which makes it valuable for small and medium-sized businesses, as well as those organizations that cannot see the forest for the trees in their quality management systems and must get back to the basics.