Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Turnarounds: 2. Technology Triage

The first article in this series talked about the initial things to do in an accounting turnaround. This one is about the accounting system itself. The first step is triage: determining if the system is good to go, walking wounded or a dead man standing.

The brutal reality is that in a turnaround situation there may not be a budget available to upgrade the technology. In addition, the existing technology may be old. Here are a few ideas about how to make the best of what you have:

  1. A better chart of accounts - If the staff is spending time analyzing accounts to separate different kinds of transactions, then create new accounts and define what kinds of transaction go in each.
  2. One-size-fits-all financial statements - Talk to the managers about what they need. The sales manager needs different detail than the production manager, for example.
  3. Inflexible Reporting - Older systems did not come with flexible report writers that let you create custom reports, but you can often retrofit a report writer to an older system, even if all it does is copy the contents of a file into a spreadsheet.
  4. Version 1.0 - Check with the software developer whether you are on the current version. You might even be eligible for a free upgrade. If there is a user group, talk to them about what to do to bring the system up to date.
Giving management and other stakeholders (e.g. the bank) better, faster financial reporting goes a long way towards re-establishing trust in the accounting system. Your time spent on technology triage will be well spent.

Next installment: Finding a New System