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Downs Associates

Accountancy Systems

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An historical perspective

To run a Company or an Organisations Accounts was one of the first applications or program to be written and run on Computers.

In the UK this was pioneered by the then "Lyons Tea Shops" who built the first "commericial" computer which was christened "Leo". By all accounts an amazing machine to see in operation, my Father-in-Law was responsible at one time for Leo 4 in a Government Department.

As computers developed during the 1960's and 1970's increasingly most large companies had computerised their accounting and several other aspects of running a company such as pay-roll, stock control etc. Towards the end of the 1970's various "mini" computers had been manufacutered e.g. the IBM 34 and 38 series which enabled computing to become available to smaller companies.

The real breakthrough come from 1981 onwards when desktop computers, in particular the IBM PC, became available. With these came accounting programs which could run on these machines and bring the cost of accounting computer programes within reach of companies and organisations who counted thier turnover in tens of thousands rather than millions. Perhaps of more significance was the publishing of spreadsheet programes in particular Lotus.

The development of Networks during the 1980s replaced the need for comparatively expense "mini" computers with their inflexibility of size and usually propriotary operating systems. Accounting systems and programs became scaleable from a single machine / operator to systems which could be used throughout a business or organsiation. With the programs interegrating all aspects of business management from the Customer Order to purchase / manufacture of new product, allocation of staff resources etc.

The development of the world wide web from 1990 onwards has also impacted on the system we use in particular with the development of "on-line" marketing and customer purchases, banking etc.

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So setting up an Accounts Programme is easy!


Many of us are used to purchasing a new Laptop with Word, Excel and several other programmes, some probably of doubtful use, preloaded and ready for us to use as soon as we press the on button and watch Microsoft's logo flash across the start up screen. So why isn't the Accounts program just there like that?

An Accounts program is a much more complex program than even the most sophisticaed word processor, as it often includes modules which give you Customer Relations, Stock Control, on-line Banking, Staff Resources, Pay Roll, do your VAT return, whilst monitoring your fuel bill, etc etc etc.

Programs such as a word processor can use as assumptions that you will use one of a limited number of paper sizes, choose form a fairly limited number of fonts, and even if you start to be creative in your layout use of images etc you still do so in a comparatively predicable way used by countless other people. So although the content of your document will be different, the mechanism is similar.

The data we use in business has many more uniqie properties and even between companies within the same industrial sector.

Thus Accounting programs, or more usually "packages" have to be able to be tailored (or paramaterised) towards the needs of both different types of business or organisation, reflecting the different ranges of products, services or activities undertaken in the organisation. Whilst producing accounts which statisfy standard accounting practices, governmental requirements and returns (e.g. for Tax) use common facilities such as online Banking. Record the activites of staff and use of resources not only in monetary terms but also other quanitive measures including perhaps weight, length, time etc. Concurrently keep Mangement & other Staff informed of the actions they may need to be taking, ordering new stock, deliveries to customers etc and the financial success of thier work. Also producing monitoring reports on Customer activities to both ensure appropriate credit control and take opportunites to achieve further sales. Amongst other activity too numerous to mention in one paragraph.

A complex set of interacting requirements.

The task of installing new programs usually needs to be done whilst the business or organisation maintains it's "normal" activity and thus accounting management will already have a full demand on thier time. It is highly unlikely and probably not possible even if desirable that data and paramaters from an exisiting system can be directly transferred to the new. Indeed it would be highly questionable if the opportunity of installing new systems did not include a review of exiting procedures, stock codes, price structures customer data etc. Adding or modifying the range and nature of the data to reflect changes in production etc since the original progam was installed.

So it becomes imperative that one of more members of staff have a dedicated opportunity to work on the new implementation. Using additional resources to undertake detailed work preparing the new paramaters, converting and cleasning data and running test implentations.

From years of previous experiance of such work on a variety of programs Downs Associates is well placed to join your team, planning, preparing and implementing new systems.

Call us to discuss further how we could help.

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