Accounting versus Technology

This should be a business marriage made in Heaven, and yet…

It’s not unusual for businesses to run into problems when they implement business solutions regardless of if that solution is accounting software, a data-warehouse or a Business Intelligence System:

* improper configurations
* inability to roll-out upgrades or changes
* malfunctions
* inadequate end-user training
* incomplete end-to-end process documentation

all lead to downtime and slow operation and cause cost overruns and lost revenue.
To ensure success it is necessary to identify and support what the business needs/expects from their new system, ensuring everything is working as intended, and delivering desired results on time and on budget. Accountants have unique competencies to assess and manage these key elements for any organisation.

These two rarely seem to play together nicely – why?

It may see obvious but:

The IT people are the technology experts – great at understanding the building blocks and connections
The Accountants are business process experts – great at measuring and analysing

The reason for the conflict seems to boil down to one main fact – and it isn’t “accounting v technology” it is “Finance v I.T.” As is so often the case it is the people, not the process, causing the issues!
But a lot of times Accountants are the last to know when an organisation is implementing new business software. Many accountants don’t understand what is needed of them, how the project should be structured, and the critical requirements for success – it’s either “outside their comfort zone” – they don’t have enough experience to understand what role they should play – or they are “too busy“.
It is time for Accountants to step up!

4 Places to focus for successfully Avoiding the
Accounting V Technology Trap

Accountants should get involved, according to their competencies, and help prevent the pitfalls. Some examples include:
1. Design and development. When establishing how the software system will be sourced, structured, and interfaced with users, finance can:

  • validate the system will provide appropriate audit trails, transparency and that proper consideration has been given to internal controls and the segregation of duties.
  • help make sure the system collects appropriate and sufficient data and offers the tools to create the dashboards, key performance indicators, and reports needed to run and manage the business.
  • analyze costs and benefits of different software options and help determine whether the system should be developed internally, purchased, or outsourced.

2. Testing and quality control. During the building and configuration, accountants can help design the metrics and test the system’s usability, performance, and functionality in different scenarios. Proper testing can avoid unpleasant surprises further down the track.

3. Acceptance and launch. When determining how to launch the system in a production environment, finance can help assist with mapping and tracking the steps to go live in accordance with defined requirements.
Adequate training that helps all users switch to the new system is an important step to ensure a successful launch.
4. Maintenance. Once a new system is operational, accountants can help monitor its performance working with IT to ensure any glitches are fixed and operations remain optimal, even after upgrades and changes.

Share your story about “Accounting versus Technology” – good, bad or ugly, so we can learn best practice (and what to avoid).

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More Information:

This post was based on the article in the Journal of AccountancySmart ways to tap accountants’ business process acumen by Sabine Vollmer.
The article arose from a new white paper developed by the AICPA – an overview of business solution implementations and the role that CPAs can play in the success.[/box]  
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About the Author

Eve Blackall Smart Accounting image
Eve Blackall the small business answer to The Supernanny.
At Smart Accounting you work one-on-one with Eve who has already assisted hundreds of business owners increase cash-flow, grow profits, also ensuring those businesses fetch the highest price when it comes time to sell.[/box]