IT Counts - Blog

    • 23 Aug 2017
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    What’s wrong with this headline: "Why Excel is a $60 billion black hole"

    Over many years I have conspicuously failed to make any progress in persuading anyone that it's time to do some serious research into how much incompetent spreadsheet use costs us all . Patrick O'Beirne of EuSpRIG has unearthed a recent study ...
    • 21 Aug 2017
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    Is your backup software providing the protection you really need? - part 2

    Is the second part of this two-part series I discuss the importance data protection.
    • 18 Aug 2017
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    The IT does not work…help!

    IT can be great when it works, and, for the majority of the time it does. You only hear gripes when it is not available or not working as expected. The support line then becomes the first port of call. I had an issue recently with a product not working. I booked a train ticket to London on the web and one of the new options available on the website was the delivery of an e-ticket direct to the phone app. Rather than...
    • 17 Aug 2017
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    Is your backup software providing the protection you really need? - part 1

    In this blog post I discuss what the term "data backup" means and why not all backups are created equal.
    • 13 Aug 2017
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    Systems and procedures –big brother is watching

    Anyone that uses Excel or Word (and indeed many other programs) is aware there are often 2, 3 or maybe 4 ways of achieving the same outcome. Shortcut keys, menu options, quick menus, mouse or keyboard etc. In such programs, it is not possible to see how the entries have been made, although in some circumstances you are able to identify more efficient ways of working. In Excel, the use of pivot tables to summarise data...
    • 4 Aug 2017
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    We need your help to improve icaew.com

    As part of an ongoing project to improve the structure the ICAEW website, we are looking for volunteers to help us test a new approach to the information technology section. We need people who are willing to complete two tests, in which you state whe...
    • 4 Aug 2017
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    Management accounts and the Power Query revolution – how you voted

    Over at the Excel Community, we have just completed a five-part series that started with several separate workbooks, each containing simple lists of nominal codes and balances… …and ended up with a set of formatted management accounts:...
    • 4 Aug 2017
    • 526 views
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    How do you use your PC-and how do others use theirs?

    It can be quite painful watching other people using their PC. I obviously do not have the patience to be a full time IT Trainer. It is sometimes very difficult to bite one’s tongue, and occasionally it does get too much! I have not had a rant on this forum for a while – so I will rectify that now. Why do people persist in typing as much as possible into software fields where this may autocomplete within...
    • 1 Aug 2017
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    I am a robot

    There hardly seems to be a day go by without a mainstream news story appearing about artificial intelligence . But had you ever considered that you are perhaps adding the machine learning revolution when you use the internet? Cat or not cat? One...
    • 1 Aug 2017
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    Excel Tip of the Week #196 - Splitting data by category

    If you need to split one table into many, the Excel Tip of the Week has a worked solution to show you how.
    • 30 Jul 2017
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    They dont know how to use the software!

    We had a phone call recently from an ex-client – slightly tail between the legs – asking if they could possibly come back to us. They had left about 9 months ago quoting “too expensive”. However, they had discovered that the grass is not always greener on the other side and they did not know where they were now in their business, and the accounts did not look “right” on their system...
    • 23 Jul 2017
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    Oh dear, oh dear..how can you NOT know how to do that?

    It never fails to surprise me, after all these years that people have been using PCs, some of the questions I have been asked, or the way things are done. Just this week, I was asked why the search functionality on our website was not working, and in fact had not been working for ages (allegedly). There was no magnifying glass at the end of the search text box to click on was apparently the problem. It was suggested...
    • 18 Jul 2017
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    The anti-checklist manifesto

    Checklists have featured fairly frequently in IT Counts and there is little doubt that, properly used, they can play an important role in ensuring that processes are carried out efficiently and thoroughly. Just under two years ago, Kevin Salter made ...
    • 17 Jul 2017
    • 2150 views
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    Member question - do you back up your cloud application data?

    I would like to ask members a question. If you use a cloud based accounting application do you backup the data separately? In other words regardless of what levels of service, reliability or resilience provided by the service do you back...
    • 16 Jul 2017
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    Does E-filing or similar functionality help eliminate errors?

    Hopefully the answer is yes! We recently had a paper filed abbreviated set of accounts rejected by Companies House; a standard letter saying abbreviated accounts could not be filed. This was incorrect as it was 31 October 2016 accounts and abbreviated accounts were still permitted. These were subsequently filed electronically with no issue. Human error in first rejection - 1-0 to e-filing. I don’t know why they...
    • 7 Jul 2017
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    Moving data between packages and software

    We were contacted recently by a potential new client looking to migrate five years data from one cloud accounting package to another. Sometimes this data transfer is very easy – not just from cloud products but also from desktop packages. Movemybooks.co.uk is one of the major players in this market – for specific products though. The conversion is seamless – upload a data file from the old software and...
    • 4 Jul 2017
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    Excel Tip of the Week #192 - Hidden rows and columns

    Hidden rows and columns have a high risk of errors, and should generally be avoided.
    • 3 Jul 2017
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    Artificial intelligence and the future of accountancy

    We launched our new report on Artificial Intelligence and the future of accountancy last Friday with two events. Both events featured Professor Moshe Vardi, an expert in AI from Rice University, as a guest speaker. In a lunchtime roundtable discussion, senior figures from business, practice and other professions joined us to debate how AI might affect accountancy. Is it an opportunity to ‘turbo charge’ the...
    • 1 Jul 2017
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    Ransomware, backups, servers, resistant staff – tales of woe

    We had a telephone call from a very worried client this week. Did we still have the backup of his accounting and payroll data for the year to 31 March 2017, and could he have it please? In the conversation, the client quickly revealed that his system had been infected with ransomware and he had been asked to pay in bitcoin to unlock it. He had chosen not to do so as discussions were already under way with his IT support...
    • 26 Jun 2017
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    Cyber Security Tip of The Week #23 – Phishing emails on mobile devices

    This tip is specific to Apple iOS devices. How do you check a web link in email on iOS? Phishing emails often contain one or more fake web links. They can be hard to spot because they are contained within a web page button. Recently I received ...
    • 26 Jun 2017
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    Big data in China

    When it comes to big data, you can’t get much bigger than data in China. The pace of innovation in the Chinese internet sector, the ubiquitous use of mobile in daily lives and the sheer scale of data that this produces is enormous. But how is big data affecting finance departments in China? We have been asking about the impact of big data on finance departments for quite a long time now. Are accountants in business...
    • 24 Jun 2017
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    IT Training in a hostile environment

    One of my staff had “a day from hell” this week. She turned on her freestanding fan at the start of the day on the hottest day of the year…and the fan fragmented and sent shards of plastic everywhere. It was very fortunate she was not hurt. Time to pinch someone else’s fan and into a training session at 9:30 – with three of a client’s staff – so four in the room. This was the...
    • 23 Jun 2017
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    EuSpRIG 2017 Conference - gazing into the future of spreadsheets

    If you haven't come across EuSpRIG (European Spreadsheet Risks Interest Group) before, in their own words: "EuSpRIG offers Directors, Managers and Professionals in all disciplines, the world’s only independent, authoritative & comp...
    • 19 Jun 2017
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    Cyber Security Tip of The Week #22 – Communication when a cyber incident strikes

    When a major IT issue strikes how will you coordinate the incident with your staff and clients? I have mentioned the need to have a client communication plan in place before . However part of any well-constructed plan should be consideration as to how...
    • 17 Jun 2017
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    GDPR – have you started the process yet?

    I was asked some 6 months ago what steps I had taken to deal with the GDPR regulations. At the time, the answer was “nothing”. However, there is less than 12 months now until the new regulations kick in – still loads of time you might think…..? However, internal processes both need review and documenting – and this is unlikely to be a “5 minute job” that can be left until the...