Following up on last week’s blog, ‘What is my real Net Cost’, I wanted to discuss how Sales Exception Reports can be utilized not just for analysis, but to catch what could be substantial billing errors. (See example spreadsheet below.)
While many Controllers sift through stacks of reports, how many can find Selling Price errors that, if corrected, could stem further losses. During my career with a publicly held company we were so fortunate to have some very smart people, programmers and developers, who understood accounting and the needs of the Sales Division. One of the very best sales management tools they developed was a report issued weekly that looked at product sales, by invoice line (remember, as discussed in the previous post, you must be engaged in transactional posting). It then compared the unit selling price to the unit cost of sales. Further it generated a column for Gross Margin Dollars and Gross Margin Percent. Remember, there is some setup work for a report like this but it is based on simple queries that most programmers could easily create to generate this report.
Let’s look at a a couple of simple examples:
Example 1: We have a new product……………Mops. We paid $3.97 for the mops and sold them for $4.50 with a Gross Margin Percent of 11.78%. Does that meet the company’s expectations of profit for that product? The Sales Department should know the answer to that question. But the question needs to be asked.
Example 2: The Sales Department was successful in promoting sales of pails this month. They were budgeted to sell 115 and sold 129. However, much to the Sales Department’s dismay they actually lost money on the sales. The Sales Exception Report tells them that they purchased the pails for $2.01 each and sold them for $1.75. The scenarios leading to lost profits can be many. Here are some of them:
- The Selling Price is incorrect. Someone incorrectly keyed it into the system
- The Cost is wrong. It’s possible that the P.O. for the pails showed $1.01 and the Vendor charged $2.01 (we all know that happens)
- Freight cost was not considered. Freight is one of the most confusing concepts within a lot of inventory and accounts payable groups. FOB, Prepaid, Freight Allowance, etc. If your P.O.’s don’t properly record the freight cost, if any, it will lead to costing errors.
Properly designed, the Sales Exception Report can lead to some serious cost savings. When I recommended using the report to the owner of my company (a large privately held enterprise) he invested in having the report designed for him. His comment, ‘it almost paid for itself in one day’.
Some of you may have access to these reports. But what makes an ‘Exception’ Report? Many of you may have seen Invoice Registers during your career. The reports came in and there might be 500 invoices to pour through to see if everything looks right. (What if there were 1,000 invoices to review?) Then we moved into the era of ‘Management by Exception’. Instead of looking at the good and the bad, let’s just look at the bad. Who decides what’s bad? You do. Your Sales group does. Owners and Executives will.
So, take a look at my simple example created in Excel. As previously stated, the Sales Exception Report probably should be generated through a set of queries reduced to a well designed report. It is not meant for Excel. It really is part of your data analytics management. Thing Big!
Next week, we will discuss setting criteria for your report. No criteria and the report becomes an Invoice Register once again.