Testing...1,2,3

The story goes of a man on holiday traveling through the countryside when he encounters car trouble. Breakdown on the road is a common scenario for many, but not for a Rolls-Royce owner. Upon contacting the dealership where he purchased his car (which was thousands of miles away), he was quickly informed that a technician would be dispatched to his location. Within 24 hours, he was back on his way.

Even though he was a Rolls-Royce owner, he was very cost conscious, which is precisely why he was able to afford such a prestigious automobile. Upon returning from vacation, he was anxiously awaiting an invoice from the dealer for the short notice round trip flight, parts, technician’s labor, etc. After weeks of waiting and hearing nothing from the dealership, he finally writes a letter to Rolls-Royce. The response from Rolls-Royce is as prompt as it is brief:
“Dear Sir:  We have no record of a Rolls-Royce motor car ever breaking down….”
No one likes to admit when their stuff does not work as planned. Computer networks at CPA firms are some of the most complex in business. Last time I checked, our industry was second only to the insurance industry in terms of the number of applications that must be support for the end users. Accounting firms have easily over 100 applications on their network to support. A big chunk of this is related to vendors like Intuit that have to release a new version of their software every year requiring us to support it.
More software on the computer usually equals more grief for the IT staff. Consider this analogy: Software on a computer is like children in a household. The more you have, the more conflicts arise. Software fights for limited memory available and siblings fight for space, toys and attention in your average family household.
What can we do about it? Test, test and more testing.   Test environments built inside your network that mirror the real set up so you can try new software before it is released to the masses at your firm.   Test environments need test users – you need more than your IT people, you need accountants that are available to use some non-chargeable time to save their peers grief down the road.
There is only so much support the software vendor can offer.   They cannot mirror your environment to replicate the scenario. Of course the software works great for the vendor’s tech support people – that is usually the only software they have loaded! Try it in our environment – well over 100 applications that need to share resources and common system files. Building a test environment is wise spending to help ensure a chargeable environment for your firm moving forward.

Your IT staff wants everything to work well just like all the employees at your firm. Working computers means working people.

No matter how much you test though, things will go awry.   We’ll freely admit….

This blog

Jim Fahey is COO of Apple Growth Partners, a regional CPA firm in Ohio. His focus is on the effective and efficient use of technology within the firm by all team members.  He is also in charge of talent management and retention at his firm.  A background of IT and Human Resources helps Jim bridge the gap of technology complexities with end users who just want their computer to work so they can be chargeable.  Being a very cheap (frugal sounds better) person himself, he is always looking for ways to save dollars at his firm.  He is Director of Education for the Association for Accounting Administration and past Technology Committee member of the Ohio Society of CPA's.  He often leads industry CPE events on the topics of Information Technology, CPA firm practice management and human resources/recruiting. Find out more about Jim on LinkedIn.

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