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accountant's role in IT implementation

By sayang_m ·
Hello:) I am conducting a mass survey about IT/IS opinion about accountant/accounting profession involvement in IT/IS implementation. It would be very grateful if you could give me some opinion on some issues below:
1) To what extent have you encountered accountants involvement in IT implementation?
2)Do we need them to be in the implementation team? why and why not?
3)If they do involve, why do you think they involve? e.g. top management instruction.
4) Do they have the skills required to be part of the implemenetation team?

Other opinions are also vwer much welcomed. thank you.

s_m, Birmingham, UK

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Interesting question,

by JIM-H In reply to accountant's role in IT i ...

I would have to say that I have never run across an accountant that had anything to do with IT implementation other than implementing tools needed for their immediate job roles.

1)To what extent have you encountered accountants involvement in IT implementation?
a.I could see Accountants installing their own tools on a Server to use for their job roles.
b.I could see an accountant team taking care of any permission or access rights into the tools that hold the information used by accountants in their job role.

2)Do we need them to be in the implementation team? why and why not?
a.I would have to say no in ?most? cases. Accountants choose, or are tossed, into their field to take care of business related to accounting.
b.Naturallyyou could have a mall group that can handle multiple ?hats?.

3)If they do involve, why do you think they involve? e.g. top management instruction.
a.I could see an accountant getting involved in the IT implementation because project management did not consider what an accountant is really used for.
b.I could see an accountant doing the implementation because they are cross-trainning to a technical role in the company.

4)Do they have the skills required to be part of the implementation team?
a.This would depend on the individual. It is no unheard of to handle multiple jobs at once.
b.If you break down what one would learn trying to earn an accounting degree vs. a technical degree the topics of discussion are much different.

Hope it help. Good Luck!
-Jim

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Yes, I have

by clearsmashdrop In reply to accountant's role in IT i ...

1) I was upgrading our payroll server and needed their input since it was an application they used everyday. Mainly the input regarded, what security to set, and where to house the server. Plus a few other things.

I also had to involve the finance dept, on any new purchases because only they knew if we had the money or not in hard times. It had to be a seriously important item to get any spending over a few hundred bucks.

2) if its relevant to them, they should be involved.

3) They are involved to either keep costs down, or get their needs met depending on the situation.

4) Yes, in certain circumstances they do have the skills.

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Infrastructure Architect perspective

by Oldefar In reply to accountant's role in IT i ...

If you are using ?implementation? to cover the whole project process, then accountants have key inputs into the process. They should be involved with the business objective phase since businesses exist to make money and even non-profit and government organizations have to live within a budget.

Accounting should be involved in establishing the business requirements. In particular, the tracking of assets and costs involved with any IT project. This can save IT teams hours of work later doing inventories and confirming installation dates. The accountant brings valuable input into such issues as how an IT element is tracked as an asset ? by system or by component. There are taxes and general accounting principals involved that most IT professionals fail to understand. Accounting practices can also provide valuable input to the operational aspects such as properly tracking warranty and maintenance agreement information to minimize costs.

By including the accountant input in the business requirement phase, the technical objectives and technical design can include the proper linkage back to the accounting system. This is has a cost and value element in the overall project. There are soft dollar costs associated with reconciling the accounting system to the inventory. These are reduced or eliminated by a little effort up front.

Accountants may assist the project manager with tracking the initial project costs, and with identifying the actual return on investment over the system life cycle. Such assistance can make the difference when the next initiative is being considered.

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From a PM's perspective

by pnc_newsgroup In reply to accountant's role in IT i ...

Why would you use an accountant or business resource on a project? I will use the term business resource because sometimes the application is not accounting related it can be an operations application.

The main reason to have business resources on a project would be to ensure that what you are developing actually meets the business objectives. This would all hinge on the complexity of what you are trying to do. The current project I am on has almost a 50/50 split between IT and Business resources. This is necessary due to the overwhelming complexity of what we are trying to do. The business folks define the business requirements and then assist the IT staff in the technical design. The business folks decide what needs to be done and the IT folks decide the how.

In some cases the IT resources know the business as good or better than the accountants. With my experience I have found this to be rare. History has proven that we often draw up some requirements documentation at the beginning of the project, hand it off to the IT department and they go off and develop it. Months later they comeback and tell the customer it is ready to test and everyone finds out that somewhere along the way an incorrect assumption (or three) was made.

With imbedded business resource you can validate and fine-tune the business requirements through out the project. It is also critical that the business resource actually know the business in detail. You would never assign a web resource to a DBA task. Likewise you need the right business knowledge. It also goes a long way if they understand the technology, however some of this can be learned along the way.

In the end it is important not to focus on what the technology can do, but what the business needs to do. In my opinion having business resources helps to shift the focus back onto what the business needs to do.

-PNC

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Unavoidable evil

by 5q In reply to accountant's role in IT i ...

I had to collect offers and then implement an accounting system chosen by an accountant. Unfortunatelly, the choise was cheaper and based on the explanations/promises of the offerrer's Marketing Manager.
I still believe that IT stuff's oppinion should be considered much more carefully. In fact, the proper professional to give the most heavy oppinion should be a System Analyst.
The accountants took place in the implementation as providers of the initial data and in any aspect concerning theirparticular roles /they had a lot of decisions to make since the system turned to be much more "abstract" than we expected/. Of course, this caused some troubles visible after time because it's not accountant's duty to know how - for example - the wrong coding system may make some ranges of data uncoverable in one and the same report and it was not our duty to know accounting, so we could presume all needed reports /but a System Analyst should have some good knowledge of both/.
In general, accountant's role in IT implementation depends on what do You implement and - very important - how Your Boss imagines the implementation process

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Roles and Issues

by Oldefar In reply to Unavoidable evil

In your example, the accounting department had the role of user. The same example could exist with a sales group, or marketing, or production, or HR - the user group preselected a solution based on vendor hype. The discussion then becomes one of user community role in IT. This is an important issue as well.

It looks like you had some involvement up front with bid selection, which gives you a leg up on a lot of user driven implementations. Did you have a set of business requirements that included performance metrics like availability, compatability with existing applications, client and server resources, response time to user tasks, and network load? If so, did you have defined measurements or did you use vendor data? Were the importance of your technical measurements put into a user perspective and terms, and did the users concur with your analysis?

I like to see business objectives and business requirements linked to technical objectives before even considering a solution. The approach that has worked for me is to keep all discussion focused from the user perspective. Rather than telling them a particular choice won't work, I begin explaining what we will need to make it work - generally time and money. They generally start asking for alternatives and I can point them towards the better solution. However, it becomes their choice rather than my dictate.

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Start on a green field

by 5q In reply to Roles and Issues

We were to make a complete replace of HW and SW with new ones, so I had to collect a list of available sollutions of the kind "ERP". All the rest decisions were made /or minimum confirmed/ of a High Management Presentative, who is an accountant. My negative oppinion was hard to explain to a non-prof and even hard to proof since our questions to the SW producer received answers of two kinds:
1) It can do that.
2) There is possibility.
The IT stuff was able to smеll what wind blows, but not the others. But even we understood much later that 2) means a lot of sofisticated fighting with the built-in report generator.
What I point on is that Management doesn't always consider all trully needed oppinions; concentrates too much on accounting/money view - one current result is lack of automation in our Production planning area /since our SW is too far from becoming an ERP yet/.
I guess, my situation then was much like the one in the discussion 'Advice needed: "CEO" sets tech policy'.

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What Might Have Helped

by Oldefar In reply to Start on a green field

I am curious as to what changes in the process might have helped a better solution. Do you see any missed opportunities in retrospect?

Your "...list of available sollutions of the kind "ERP"." jumps out at me as maybe the business requirements were not as well defined as they could have been. However, I wasn't there so that may not be the case.

I like to see an org chart type approach that links from business objective all the way down to the physical, logical, and component design, butthis can be hard to do.

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Get company-wide representation

by AJayVee In reply to accountant's role in IT i ...

1 and 2) First, depending on the size and scope of the implementation, I always have an accountant on the team for job costing and budget control. Second, if the IT implementation affects anything to do with accounting/financial processes it is bestto have them on board. If the IT implementation affects the legal department then I have an attorney on the team; shop floor control? then have a production guy handy. Get the drift?

3)They get involved to make sure business objectives for the implementation are being met.

4) They sure do. I believe you are looking at an IT implementation strictly through the eyes of a technician or installer. For a company-wide implementation you better have company-wide representation.

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Usually essential

by generalist In reply to accountant's role in IT i ...

Unless you are dealing with specialized applications that don't touch on money, account structures or other fiscal tracking functions, you'll likely need an accountant. And if a project meeting the above criteria is big enough, you'll still need anaccountant, if only to help keep the costs under control.

Said accountant should be intimately familiar with the organization's account structure because that often needs to be considered when setting up essential controls or tracking project costs. The accountant should also be familiar with timing issues relative to various accounting processes. It can be quite stressful implementing a new system while doing year end close. And there are times when delaying or accelerating a purchase can make a big difference in an organization's monthly/quarterly profit/loss statement.

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