IT Counts - Blog

    • 26 Feb 2017

    When does a business realise it has outgrown current software?

    The implementation of a new accounting software, or even software for the first time is an opportunity to revisit procedures and processes. These might be minor tweaks or changes or it may be quite substantial due to features being available in the software, which weren't perhaps available before. However, once these processes are in place, they often become ‘the norm’ and no one ever challenges or thinks...
    • 23 Feb 2017

    Big data and the profession - what about ethics and governance?

    There has been a lot of talk recently about the risks of an ‘echo-chamber’ of social media, and its impact on public opinion. Issues like these raise some deeper questions about our use of big data and analytics and how it can influence society. On the one hand, better data enables a far more accurate match between things – Facebook can just show you things you like and agree with, for example. But is...
    • 22 Feb 2017

    The Future of the Professions - live

    For those that are familiar with the book ‘The Future of the professions’, there is an opportunity to hear Prof Richard Susskind talk about his work and findings at the upcoming ‘True and Fair’ lecture in Chartered Accountants’ Hall on 16 March. Prof Susskind started on an investigation of the impact of technology on the practice of Law in the late 1980s and has been debating the issues...
    • 20 Feb 2017

    Cyber Security Tip Of The Week #11 – Enlist An Expert As Necessary

    The trouble with running a business is that you are always running more than one business at the same time. Not only are you doing the work that interests you and forms part of your chosen career but you are also doing all the things that suppo...
    • 20 Feb 2017

    Client closedown - checklist needed?

    I questioned in a recent blog post whether a checklist is needed when closing down a client. Having now put together such a checklist the answer is an overwhelming yes as far as I am concerned. Having sat and thought about it when constructing it, several other items have been added since. With the use of "apps" there are lots of diverse areas where records may be maintained. I highlight below just a few of...
    • 16 Feb 2017

    The Hiscox Cyber Readiness Report 2017

    A study of 3,000 companies in the UK, US and Germany found that more than half (53%) of businesses in the three countries are ill-prepared to deal with cyber attacks. The Hiscox Cyber Readiness Report 2017 assessed firms according to their readiness ...
    • 13 Feb 2017

    Cyber security tip of the week #10 - Are Apple Macs more secure than Windows?

    Recently someone asked me if Apple Mac’s are more secure than Windows PC. The answer is: no. By and large macOS attracts less malware than Windows. However this is largely because of the far smaller install base of macOS compared to Windows. Es...
    • 12 Feb 2017

    Which software should I use?

    Have I got software already or do I need to find something else? It is often bandied around that only a small percentage of the functionality of Word or Excel is actually used, and this is probably true. The same is true of practically any other program in common use. It is probably not used, either because people do not know the functionality even exists, or because some other system has been put in place to do something...
    • 10 Feb 2017

    EuSpRIG 2017 - Spreadsheet risks academic conference looking for attendees, papers

    Hello all! This year's European Spreadsheet Risk Interest Group (EuSpRIG) conference, EuSpRIG 2017, will be held in London on Thursday July 6th . The URL above will tell you about the organisation, and also contains a link to the call for papers as well as details of the conference itself. After attending last year I can say that if you are interested in spreadsheets, how they are used, and what the consequences...
    • 10 Feb 2017

    Big data and the profession - what are the practical challenges?

    While there are lots of ways in which accountants are making use of new capabilities in data and analytics, we need to recognise a number of practical barriers and challenges, many of which were highlighted in our annual lecture on the topic of big data . First is the question of business case and justifying investment in new tools and technologies. Where tangible benefits are not immediately obvious – and businesses...
    • 7 Feb 2017

    Excel Tip of the Week #171 - Using #N/A in charts

    Use this simple trick to exclude unwanted data from charts.
    • 6 Feb 2017

    Cyber security tip of the week #9 - Has your email address been stolen?

    Have you ever wondered if your email account is in the hands of cyber criminals? Perhaps you read about a company or service provider being hacked and a list of email addresses being stolen. The web site “ Have I Been Pwned ” (general...
    • 4 Feb 2017

    Writing proper

    Frequently, emails arrive in our inbox and they contain numerous spelling mistakes, poor grammar and misuse of words. Perhaps this is a dangerous thing to write about as anyone that chooses to read this will be looking to pick up the smallest mistake in this text. However, this posting was composed using Microsoft Word. Initially, it was drafted on Word on an iPad and saved locally as no internet connection was available...
    • 1 Feb 2017

    An exciting time for Excel users – the added dimensions of deferred income

    Excel now includes a feature that could revolutionise the way finance departments work and dramatically improve productivity. As well as providing a way to speed-up and automate tasks that spreadsheets already carry out, this feature will allow Excel...
    • 1 Feb 2017

    Big data and the profession - what is different about data-driven organisations?

    Skills are important but there are also cultural aspects around greater reliance on data, frequently termed data-driven decision-making. For example, there is a need to move from decisions based on rank to ones based on data. This is a big change in many organisations as decision chains are typically hierarchical and assume that those with more knowledge and experience will make better decisions – an approach...
    • 30 Jan 2017

    Cyber Security tip of the Week #8 - index of all posts

    An index of all the Cyber Security tips of the Week.
    • 27 Jan 2017

    Efficient ways of working…..?

    A debate recently arose over methods of working and which was most “efficient”. And how do you actually measure “efficiency”? In this instance, the measurement was that old chestnut of time taken to perform a task. Remember the “old days” of a carrier bag of records, cheque books, paying in books and bank statements (still the method for many unfortunately)! Years ago, all the cheque...
    • 26 Jan 2017

    Big data and the profession - what new skills will accountants need?

    This is a big question that I always ask people working in the field. It is fundamental to ensuring the ACA qualification remains relevant and that members can update their skills to reflect changing market needs. Exploiting data and analytics crosses three broad skill sets, as we discussed in our Meet the Data Scientist event IT, programming and data skills to extract, cleanse, link and manipulate data Statistical...
    • 23 Jan 2017

    Cyber Security Tip of the Week - Test your backups #7

    In a past life I used to run a data backup service for a large professional services company. We backed up the user data files from every PC once per day. One of the key metrics I kept an eye on was the most recent backup date for each of the P...
    • 20 Jan 2017

    How can the profession use AI?

    There’s a lot of talk (and hype) around Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning at the moment, but there are clearly some very interesting opportunities for the profession. So, we held a workshop with Portsmouth University this week which brought together machine learning experts and accountants, especially those in audit and forensics, to explore the issues. My colleague Rick Payne from the Finance and...
    • 20 Jan 2017

    Clients need (and value) tech advice

    Recent surveys indicate that accounting is changing. A Xero State of Accounts report https://www.xero.com/content/dam/xero/pdf/xero-state-of-accounts.pdf highlighted that 56% of small businesses believe they will use accountants for help with tasks outside of accountancy. 83% of accountants believe that technology knowledge is as important to their job as understanding accountancy. We were moving a client from a desktop...
    • 18 Jan 2017

    Privacy regulation – accountants step forward. Report from IT Faculty lecture.

    The UK Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham , presented the IT Faculty lecture last night on the subject of privacy regulation. The crux of the commissioner’s speech was around accountability, moving from a mind-set of compliance to a mind-set of commitment. Speaking to a packed Great Hall (with a number participating in a live stream of the event), an engaged audience submitted 55 questions electronically...
    • 17 Jan 2017

    Big data and the profession - does big data mean anything for smaller organisations?

    When we started this stream of work, we made a deliberate decision to use the term ‘big data and analytics.’ We wanted to keep ‘big data’ as it’s a well-known term that gets attention, and which we’re constantly asked about. But we were concerned that it would switch off smaller organisations who might think big data was nothing to do with them. We were convinced that there were new...
    • 16 Jan 2017

    Cyber Security Tip of the Week - Report cyber crime to Action Fraud #6

    If you are the victim of a cyber crime then you should report it to Action Fraud. They are the UK’s national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre. They also have a range of resources describing the types of cyber crime and ways in which...
    • 13 Jan 2017

    Update the databases PLEASE…..

    January!! Tax return time and the laggards appear on the “outstanding tax returns” report generated from within the tax software. This is a hugely useful report at this time of year and can be filtered – “clients by partner” or “clients by manager” etc. But are they all really laggards? Here are just a few scenarios that have appeared (yet again!) this year when reviewing the...