Technology doesn't stand still
By: Robert Half
A friend of mine, who is with a successful, mid-sized accounting
firm, recently enrolled in an intensive computer course at his local community
college. I asked him, "Why?" After all, my friend is a partner in the
firm, and he spends almost no time doing actual accounting spreadsheet
work any longer.
"I want to keep up," he replied. "Our clients and many of
my colleagues are heavy into computers these days, and I want to speak
their language, know what they're talking about. Besides, I'm having fun.
E-mail is a terrific timesaver."
I was impressed with his thinking, even more with his zest
for learning. It would be easy for him to sit back, help manage the firm,
and let his more junior colleagues deal with the bits and bytes of accounting.
But that would represent a failure to move forward.
As a new accountant just entering the field, you are at
an advantage in that unlike your predecessors, you've grown up with computers.
They're almost second nature. The key is to make sure that you keep pace
with emerging technologies in order to better serve your firm and your
clients. Technology doesn't stand still; however, those accountants who
fail to keep abreast of the latest accounting and finance tools might
well find their careers at a standstill.
A word of caution, should you become the computer "whiz"
in your company or department. During your careers, you'll find yourself
interacting with people, including clients, who are not part of the PC
revolution and don't wish to be. In these instances, it will be to your
benefit to translate complex computer terms and applications in simple,
understandable language, even when the questions you're asked might seem
silly to you.
One of our company's business divisions went out and asked
information technology professionals to name the "strangest requests they'd
ever heard of or received from clients or end users." Here are just a
few of the responses:
"My computer's cup holder is broken." (referring to the
"These figures need to add up to something different than
what they add up to. Please make them do so."
"Can I get just the U.S. portion of the World Wide Web?"
"Can a diskette get a virus if you drop it on the floor?"
"Enclosed, per your request, is a copy of my disk so that
you can determine the problem." (The user sent a photocopy of the disk
to the IT specialist.)
"Can you help me set up my car so I can use my laptop while
"Can I use my computer to order pizza?"
"How come when I pressed the 'help' button (the F1 key)
earlier, you didn't stop by?"
Learn as much as possible about how computers can enhance
your accounting work and careers. At the same time, be understanding of
those who don't share your knowledge and skills.
As my friend so admirably exemplifies, learning should be
lifetime endeavor. Those who stand the best chance of climbing the proverbial
ladder of success will be on a never-ending quest for new knowledge and
skills. These are the accountants who, besides keeping abreast of developments
in their profession, will hone their speaking and writing skills in order
to more effectively present their good ideas to people who can act upon
them. They'll expand their understanding of the larger world to better
put their professional responsibilities in perspective. Because they are
fortunate enough to be working in the computer age, they'll put in the
time and effort to learn how to use this immensely powerful accounting
tool to enhance their careers.