Saturday, 20 September 2014

The Devil is in the Detail

Some time ago two clients asked me to look at problems they were having with their systems.

In both cases, far too much clerical effort was being expended where computers should have been helping.


In one office, information was being entered twice, into two separate systems. A departmental system needed details of financial transactions, but these also were being entered into the company’s main accounting system.

When the departmental system was purchased, no-one checked that it could link to the accounting system. So for some time now, double entry of data has been occurring, with all the related issues of boredom, time-wasting and the possibility of errors.

It may not have seemed a major issue originally, but it has grown to be quite a problem.


Another client has a good accounting system. However the detailed reports needed at month end are not produced within the system. Information is exported to Excel and then staff spend at least a day each month manipulating the results into the desired format.

This is not a good idea. There is (once again) far too great a possibility of errors being introduced, and in any case it is a waste of a skilled person’s time. The accounting system should produce the required reports. With a modern system this should be quite feasible, even if it seems a little daunting at first!


When systems are installed, people are nervous about budgets being exceeded, but sometimes they neglect to address the vital aspects of systems.

Where systems use the same information there is a need to be very vigilant. Far too often, staff are typing information from one system into the other, or worse, they type the same information into both. (Or even print it out of one and then type it into the other!) It is worth spending quite a lot of time and energy to make sure that details are transferred automatically from one system to the other.

Also, if the same standard information is needed regularly, make sure your system produces it, rather than having staff spending hours each month manipulating data to produce the correct format of reports.

After all, computer systems should meet your business needs.

This may seem trite, and obvious, but surprisingly often, companies do not have systems which fully meet their needs. Even large systems, which are designed to be complete, often do not produce the required management information for some departments.

Look around you and identify where time (and money) are being wasted.

Let me help identify those areas worth tackling.

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