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Can somebody explain what the finance department does in more detail to me? Watch

    • Thread Starter

    Hi, im currently doing a project on a company I used to work for.

    I used to work in the production department of a medium to large size company. the department I was in had around 25 people, but overall there was about 300 people employed across the production, i.t, support, distribution, sales, legal and finance.

    for my project i need to cover as much of the company as possible, ive pretty much done all the other departments as I talk to other employees that work there, I thought I would be able to ask the company if I could come in for a day and see as I was a previous employee but couldnt get in contact with anybody.

    So im hoping I can get some help here, those of you who work in fnance/accounting for medium to large enterprises what kind of duties do you have?

    The company has 9 outlets, each outlet gets upto around 200 sales a week, each sale could be a few hundred pound. So each outlet can be generating £40,000 a week, then theres 300 employees to pay.

    So would the main function be to pay employees, then to calculated profits. Would they calculate break even points/margins? What about balance sheets, income statements and cashflows, how often would these be done?

    How many employees would the finance department have, and what would each person do? would there be one person whos main duty to pay employees and another who totals up sales, or would they all do everything?

    What kind of software would they be using, in house software, special accounting software or ms excel?

    Sorry about all the questions and the long post.
    Thanks for any advice anybody can give.

    Pay employees is done by the payroll department usually
    Finance department will calculate sales/purchases/accruals/prepayments/vat/management info/variances etc. usually on monthly/quarterly basis

    at year end final p+l/balance sheet

    also liaise with auditors/external partners

    To expand on the last poster's point, finance will cover all the areas he mentions and maybe some more.

    If I presume from the reference to production that the enterprise makes something then the starting point may be as follows:

    Goods are ordered. This may be done dirrectly by a purchasing/procurement department, it may be covered by finance. Ideally I would say it is the former.
    Orders are recorded in some way.

    Goods come in. Depending on the organisation these will be recorded and added into stock records , maybe by a distinct goods inward function which might be finance department (FD) or another department.

    Purchase orders will get married to goods inward. Either FD or another.

    Purchase invoices then received will get married to goods inward. FD

    Purchase invoices will be posted to accounts system. FD

    Payments for these will be instituted.FD

    Suppliers statements will be reconcilled with purchase ledger balances.FD


    Maybe sales orders originate in each of the selling units/branches.

    Marry to Goods out, either direct from branch or centrally.
    Stock records updated.

    Sales invoices generated, likely FD

    Sales invoices posted to Sales Ledgers.FD

    Receipts matched onto Sales Ledgers. FD


    Payroll likely run as a seperate function within FD, for larger organisation payments made from say cashiers/ treasury department(run bank accounts) with payroll processed by payroll dept. May have close link or include HR dept.

    Overheads and general payments within finance dept
    Vat within finance dept.

    May have production cost records within Finance department
    Nominal ledgers maintained finance department.
    Expense claims- may be run by payroll department.
    Monthly /quarterly accounts and budgets within finance department.
    Internal audit (if exists) may come under finance department, but likely to also have direct reporting to audit committee as a bypass control.
    External audit will liase with finance department, but likely report to audit committee. (if exists)

    It is very difficult to be precise, the above is sort of typical,there are many different arrangements in different enterprises.

    When I used to audit we would prepare organisation reporting charts, overall system flow charts (goods/ documents/ information), separate function flow charts with linking/ overlaps between departments marked. We would further write narrative notes as to how the entity fitted together.

    Whilst these were done to identify internal controls and as a starting point to the audit testing we expected to do, and accordingly were probably more document/check/ control centered, they are a good way of trying to understand in outline how an organisation fits together.

    Trusts this helps.

    I missed your points re accounting systems used etc.

    It very much depends on what they do e.g do they have foreign currency issues/ importing etc? However I think I can safely say that for the size of organisation you described they will either have an off the shelf package, an off the shelf but modified package, or a bespoke package. I would expect excel to be used for analysis purpose/ maybe budget purposes, however the accounts package will be more robust, Excel I believe has a place in any finance department however its application will merely be for specific tasks.

    I can't comment really on what systems might be used, I have been away from larger scale auditing for a long time, however Sun used to be very common. I know more organisations are now implementing "Cloud" accounting systems, but to find out what they use you will need to ask them.
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