Lean Accounting and GAAP – Part 2

Relevance and reliability are the primary qualities the qualitative characteristics of accounting information that distinguishes better (more useful) information from inferior (less useful) information for decision making purposes.

Today we are going to focus on relevance.

For accounting information to be relevant, it must be capable of making a difference in a decision. Relevant information helps decision makers to make predictions about future events or to confirm or correct prior expectations. Relevant information must also be timely – it must be available to decision makers before it loses its ability to influence decisions.

To summarize, relevant information must have predictive value, feedback value and be presented on a timely basis.

The lean accounting box score meets the requirements of relevant information. The box score is predictive in the sense that a future state box score can be created from a future state value stream map illustrating the improvements in operating performance, capacity & costs.

Box scores provide feedback value to value stream managers by allowing them to analyze weekly box score results quickly identify root causes and take necessary corrective action.

Box scores meet the timeliness requirement through weekly reporting.

Traditional cost accounting information cannot meet the predictive value requirement because it is virtually impossible to model the impact of decisions on all the factors making up a standard costing system. Traditional cost accounting information does not provide feedback value because the information cannot be used to correct prior conditions. Lastly, this information often times is not timely to making decisions and is outdated when received.

In terms of the GAAP quality of relevance, it appears like the lean accounting box score better meets the criteria than traditional cost accounting.