Understanding and Using Financial Management Systems to Make Decisions


Many program managers consider financial management a complex, uninteresting, or even frightening topic. They may prefer to leave the responsibility for financial management in the hands of accountants, bookkeepers, and finance officers. Today, however, organizations rely on all their managers to help allocate and monitor resources in order to achieve programmatic goals. Thus, program managers need to understand the basics of financial management, and financial managers need to develop a broader vision of their own role. Both types of managers must learn to seek input from each other during planning, share information during program implementation, and collaborate in monitoring and evaluating the organization’s work.

This issue of The Manager presents the key concepts and tools required to prepare financial plans and to monitor and use program resources responsibly, appropriately, and cost-effectively. It discusses the role of financial management in health organizations and the role of both program and financial staff in making financial management work. It presents a financial management model and discusses each layer of the model, including budgeting and accounting tools, financial analysis applications, and important financial and strategic decisions. The accompanying supplement, Guide to Computerizing Your Accounting System provides detailed instructions on how to assess and automate accounting—a valuable step toward improving your organization’s overall financial management system.