Accounting IT Conference

By Bill Kennedy - I have just come home from the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants IT Solutions Conference. What a great conference! Alas, I haven’t learned how to self-virtualize, so I was unable to attend all the sessions, but here are some quotable quotes. Feel free to contribute yours (even if you didn't go to the conference).

Dan Lyons (Fake Steve) a writer for Forbes magazine who started writing a parody blog about Steve Jobs that became extremely popular – “I’m like the host at a dinner party” (context – he was making the point that many of the people who responded to the blog were talking to each other as much as to him. The key to blogging is interaction with your audience.) Also: "The old business models are blowing up. We don't know what the new models will be."

Barry Levine (RSM Richter) "Anything that doesn't contribute to the end goal is waste." While the context was Business Process Improvement, it led me to wonder how often we're unclear about what the end goal really is. Also: "Whatever you think the training budget should be, double it!" And: "Where there is a lot of people there is a lot of risk." I loved his advice that if you really want to change an organization start with a small group of keen people who want to prove they can improve.

Ian Clark (3 Peaks) "The key to a successful project is a QUICK ROI (Return on Investment)." I liked his session because he kept throwing in tips about free software, such as if your company purchases a Microsoft Office license, it includes home use by your employees.

Andrew Pridham (CGI) "We have fallen for the idea of shrink wrapped security." Andrew emphasized the need for people to be awake at the switch if you want good security. And: "Losses due to financial fraud (i.e. phishing) have overtaken viruses." He also poked fun at security consultants, calling them the "business prevention department" because they're always saying no.

Joshua Fireman (ii3) "Tagging is the most exciting development in document management." That's tagging as in Facebook pictures. I kid you not. You might have thought all that time on Facebook was being wasted, but someone was actually observing and learning. If you want to know about document management, contact Joshua. He lives and breathes it.

Catharine Devlin (devlin) I have to give Catharine full marks for interactivity. She was one of the few presenters who kept checking back with the audience to see if they wanted more about each topic. She made a terrific point about using eNewsletters, blogs, podcasts and web sites: "Buy a business card scanner and use it." She said that the business cards people trade at conferences end up in desk drawers where they're no use to anyone. Buy a scanner and make a habit of getting those cards into your contact database ASAP so they get the next copy of your eNewsletter before they forget you.

Microsoft didn't present, but I spent some time with a couple of consultants talking about PerformancePoint. I thought I was pretty up to date on Microsoft products, but I hadn't seen this one. It's actually a suite of products and several sources, e.g. FRxBuzz, have said that it will be replacing FRx, the reporting workhorse for Dynamics GP (Great Plains). A big advantage PerformancePoint offers is that it is based on OLAP cubes, meaning that you can define exactly which dimensions (i.e. fields) you want to include in your analysis. Personally, I like this approach because you can extend your analysis beyond the GL (unlike FRx) without having to expose unsuspecting users to ALL of the tables (unlike Crystal Reports).

Best Tag Line The best company motto I heard at the conference was from David Kilbourn of Blue Ridge Information Group: "We want you out of the office by five" and when he explained what he meant by that, I began to think it just might be possible.

What I loved about this conference was that it was accountants talking to accountants. They stayed away from the buzzwords and I felt that I was talking to people who have the same concerns and priorities as I do. I came away with tons of ideas. Watch this blog for future articles!

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by Bill Kennedy, CA.IT, PMP - With over 25 years of accounting experience, Bill has a varied background in accounting management and accounting systems implementation, with a focus on the charitable sector. He is also an experienced volunteer board member and fundraiser.

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