When accounting automation becomes ineffective to the customer fault

I have to change frequently the clients, because I work remotely. Created for one person – go to the next. I also sell my programs online. Given the specifics of work, I noticed some strangeness: in about twenty-five percent of the cases the enterprise that paid the programmer’s work and accepted him for employment does not use it.

Start with examples

The company which sells computers bought an impressive software package, paid all on time, bought necessary trade equipment… Thereafter, we installed everything for them and prepared to launch. Stopped at the stage when the company employees responsible for the new bundled software operation have to enter information on the remains existing in the departments. For your reference – it is about a couple of hundreds of the names. But all the works on the project stopped, because the remains were not entered by the target date as well as within a week and month later. They are not entered so far, though it’s been half a year. Officially, we agreed that the client will call us when the employees will become vacant and will take the time to enter the remains. You understand that the managers in the small companies are the part-time sellers, loaders, cashiers,…

Another example

Quite large plant decided to automate the lunch accounting for its own employees on account of salary. The system was prepared, tested, installed. Their specialist was trained. Everything is as usual. I recently got to know that the end user does not use our system. It turns out that for a very banal reason: to purchase new computer, the leaders do not allocate the funds and the existing one does not have enough power. In due time, we pointed out them to the need of more powerful computer, but, due to the not quite understandable for me internal intrigues, this question was hushed up at the IT-department level. As a result, the automation became not effective and it was decided to give up the use of new program.

Third example

The production company ordered the accounting automation. A specialist was appointed from the company – RS analyst and in the future - implementer. The job was completed, passed, the implementer was trained (for the in-depth deployment and training of all the employees the budget was not allocated). I called back to the client in half a year to know if there was not noticed any bugs in the system operation. I was surprised to hear that the accounting is still performed in the Excel, the employees have no time for the deep independent learning of new system and the specialist whom we trained has left his position …
I would like to summarize the existing modest experience in such cases and to discuss the topic when the accounting automation becomes ineffective to the customer fault.
Already from the above examples it is possible to make one important conclusion: in all three cases, obviously, the administration was not interested in the result. In the first case – the director did not want to stop the sales even for day in order to bring everything to a close, in the second and the third the budget was cut and it was decided to save money where it was not allowed to do it.

1. Disinterest of leaders in the results

It was always a mystery for me why the leaders of one or another company spent at all on automation, of there are enough reports in excel and they do not want to bring everything to close? What do the leaders want to achieve? Attempt to follow the fashion? Tired aching chief accountant? Decided that it’s time to change something, but what to change – did not found? We would remind that a well-installed accounting automation in the trade and manufacturing companies is able to increase the profits and reduce the costs. A good automation pays for itself quickly enough and soon begins to make a profit and savings. But if the leaders did not assess the automation prospects or, even worse, thinks that a new mahogany table for the top manager is more important than a new server for system administrator, it is unlikely that automation will be successful in such company.

2. Limited budget

Typically, the second comes after the first. When the leaders are not quite aware what they expect from automation, then such ideas appear like: «let’s invite the student and he will do everyth8ing as it should» or «let’s seat the chief accountant on the server»… Of course, I am not against the undermining of the students and no doubt in the potential of Russian students, but I just want to say that for the deployment of serious accounting system the simple programming skills are very small. Good implementer should be able to estimate the possible consequences of choosing one or another automation strategy. This is quite a laborious work which demands, above all, a great practical experience, understanding of not only the enterprise accounting specifics, but also its non-obvious nuances. Eventually, such work required persistence, because often the solutions of implementers can meet the resistance from the customer side and it is required to defend their proposals based, again, on their own experience, protecting the interests of resistant client. Hardly any student who understands that he deals with temporary, uncharacteristic of him thing is capable of this. Therefore, I believe that the economy at the executor level is almost the guarantee of failed automation.
The same concerns the unjustified economy on the equipment. Usually, the system failure occurs in the weakest unit and at the most wrong moment… I remember that in one of my clients who «closes his eyes» to the proposal for server update this server suddenly burned out when the accounting department was doing the annual report. It was sad that the data archiving was not carried out properly, again, in spite of the recommendations: the director considered the purchase of writing cd-rom like not particularly necessary costs. Of course, the system was recovered. But I remember how the accounting department had to work two weeks almost at night to recover the data lost for the year by the primary documents. By the way, after that incident the leaders bought then a terribly expensive server with raid-array…

3. Tender for kickbacks

I met somewhere in the network an approximate statistics which percentage of tenders for IT-services in Russia are won thanks to the kickbacks to the responsible person. Statistics is not comforting. It is sad that mainly the large customers fall on the kickbacks, where the contract amount is impressive and the leaders is not engaged directly in the executor selection but entrusts this with its own specialist who is not always satisfied with the level of his compensation. The practice shows that in this case, all the works are completed on time, all the documents are signed, but the company employees are unhappy with the results and cannot use the deployed system in the planned volume for different reasons. Thereafter, the leaders do not have the required analytical base and begin to find out the reason. Such investigations drag on for a long time, are accompanied often by staff appointments and, eventually, by searching the one who would get the system into shape …

4. To a question about the leaders of industry

I’d like to cite another example, quite typical. The company is ready to spend money on automation, but did not get oriented on the IT-services market and contacted with someone very famous. As a result, the costs have exceeded all the reasonable limits and the result was not entirely expected, though, perhaps, acceptable at a stretch.
Unfortunately, it is only when buying a car you can be guided by the advertising booklets and, if the resources are enough, choose the latest from the cars product line. In the field of IT-services, as the practice shows, all is not so. If the executor is not at the corporation-wide level, then his fame only sometimes may not correspond to the quality of offered services and the amount of client network that required a permanent maintenance can not afford to engage new client at the proper level.
Against this background, it was necessary to recall the smaller companies, less famous and, therefore, not won the tender that would have been happy just to get a big customer of IT-services even with a smaller contract amount and were ready to give all the efforts (which, by the way, they had) for the fact that the client was satisfied. Ambition of small groups, a level of their specialists and interest in the work results are often higher than in the famous big companies. Small companies cannot afford in the work that allow the monopolies for themselves, because any failure could threaten a company in bankruptcy.

I have mentioned only for, perhaps, main factors when automation does not achieve the results and it happens, partly, to the customer fault. Certainly, there are other reasons, but the root of the problems, in my opinion, should be sought, above all, in the wrong position of the company leadership which is expressed either in the lack of understanding why automation is necessary or in the incorrectly chosen strategy to solve this question. Where the decisions are made soberly and balanced, where the specialist level is estimated, rather than his fame on the market, where the leaders clearly understands what it expects from automation all in all – there will be all right, and I wish that all…

Author: Oleg Ponomarenko (http://www.belkamag.ru)

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