This one of the volumes in the new Harvard Business School Essentials Series. Each offers authoritative answers to the most important questions concerning its specific subject. The material in this book is drawn from a variety of sources which include William J. Bruns, Michael J. Roberts, and Robert S. Kaplan as well as Harvard Business School Publishing and Harvard ManageMentor®, an online service. Each volume is indeed "a highly practical resource for readers with all levels of experience" but I think those who have only recently embarked on a business career will derive the greatest benefit.
This volume explains the basic concepts of finance to managers who are not financial managers. As Richard Luecke notes in the Introduction, "Knowing how to finance assets, forecast future cash flows, maintain a budget, determine which operations are profit generators and which are not, and judge the real economic merits of different investment opportunities will help you stay in business and turn a profit." Samuel L. Hayes served as subject advisor to Luecke, writer of this and other books in the Harvard Business School Essentials Series and author or developer of more than 30 other books as well as several dozen articles.
There are ten chapters followed by an Appendix: Activity-Based Budgeting. (More about that material in a moment.) Each chapter is introduced by a list of "Key Topics" to be covered in it. For example, in Chapter 5, the focus is on start-up financing, financing current operations, financing growth, establish a proper match of assets with financing, and typical financing arrangements. Obviously, all of this material may seem basic (if not self-evident) to the experienced financial manager but keep in mind that the material was carefully selected for managers who are not financial managers.
One of the most informative discussions is provided in the Appendix when brief but sufficient attention is given to "Developing Cost Drivers" and more specifically to activity-based budgeting (ABB) and how it differs from activity-based costing (ABC). Less experienced non-financial managers are frequently asked to prepare a report which, more often than not, involves a budget or at least a cost analysis. A basic understanding of ABB and ABC will guide and assist the completion of that task. Whereas ABC starts with the cost of resources, allocates these costs to activities, and then allocates these costs to products and/of services, ABB starts with the planned product or service, estimated sales volume, and mix and comes up with the requisite activities to produce the mix and volume.
Financial managers as well as non-financial managers who supervise other non-financial managers should seriously consider providing copies of this book to those who currently do not understand "how to finance assets, forecast future cash flows, maintain a budget, determine which operations are profit generators and which are not, and judge the real economic merits of different investment opportunities" which will help [their organization] stay in business and turn a profit." Of course, younger executives need not wait for such provision. Published as a paperbound volume and priced attractively, Finance for Managers would be a modest investment for them to make in their own careers.