The contents of the book have been ordered in what is meant to be a logical sequence. For this reason, it is suggested that you work through the book in the order in which it is presented. Every effort has been made to ensure that earlier chapters do not refer to concepts or terms which are not explained until a later chapter. If you work through the chapters in the ‘wrong’ order, you may encounter points that have been explained in an earlier chapter which you have not read.
Management accounting is concerned with ensuring that managers have the informa- tion they need to plan and control the direction of their organisation. This book is directed primarily at those following an introductory course in management account- ing. Many readers will be studying at a university or college, perhaps majoring in accounting or in another area such as business studies, IT, tourism or engineering. Other readers, however, may be studying independently, perhaps with no qualification in mind. The book is written in an ‘open learning’ style, which has been adopted because we believe that readers will find it to be more ‘user-friendly’ than the traditional approach. Whether they are using the book as part of a taught course or for personal study, we feel that the open learning approach makes it easier for readers to learn. In writing this book, we have been mindful of the fact that most readers will not have studied management accounting before. We have therefore tried to write in an accessible style, avoiding technical jargon. Where technical terminology is unavoid- able, we have tried to give clear explanations. At the end of the book (in Appendix A) there is a glossary of technical terms, which readers can use to refresh their memory if they come across a term whose meaning is in doubt. We have tried to introduce topics gradually, explaining everything as we go. We have also included a number of questions and tasks of various types to try to help readers to understand the subject fully, in much the same way as a good lecturer would do in lectures and tutorials. More detail of the nature and use of these questions and tasks is given in the section ‘How to use this book’. The book covers all the areas required to gain a firm foundation in the subject. Chapter 1 provides a broad introduction to the nature and purpose of management accounting. Chapters 2, 3, 4 and 5 are concerned with identifying cost information and using it to make short-term and medium-term decisions. Chapters 6 and 7 deal with the ways in which management accounting can be used in making plans and in trying to ensure that those plans are actually achieved. Chapter 8 considers the use of management accounting information in making investment decisions, typically long- term ones. Chapter 9 deals with ‘strategic management accounting’. This is an increas- ingly important area of management accounting that focuses on factors outside the organisation but which have a significant effect on its success. Chapter 10 deals with the problems of measuring performance where the business operates through a divi- sional organisational structure, as most large businesses do. It also considers the use of non-financial measures in measuring performance. Finally, Chapter 11 looks at the way in which management accounting can help in the control of short-term assets, such as inventories (stock) and cash.