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Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

The Devil is in the Details

I recently consulted with a client who was going through an audit with an outside agency. During this process, the client discovered that the staff person who had been hired into the controller position some months ago actually had little or no knowledge of detailed bookkeeping/accounting processes. When he was hired, the books were clean, and all daily/weekly/monthly procedures were fully documented in exact detail. He was the happy recipient of all these good things. There are many companies do not have clean books and well-documented procedures, so these were truly gifts.

Now, those of us who have worked in accounting know how quickly the books can become unbalanced when good procedures are not followed, and when information is not examined and verified. It seems as though the new hire got in over his head and decided to fake it. He didn’t follow the procedures, and he made up journal entries to force balances to the detail reports. That went on until the audit. Then all was revealed.

The best advice I can offer to owners or executives who are responsible for the bottom line is do your own auditing. Take those big-picture top-level reports and drill down into the details. You may or may not find the devil hiding somewhere, but you won’t know unless you look. The truth, be it good or bad, is in the details. Be vigilant!


A Cautionary Tale for Air Travelers

An interesting thing happened when I flew back from Sage Summit in Maryland this month. At Baltimore Washington International airport, I was randomly selected to be tested for explosives residue. It’s a simple test. A guard runs a giant cotton swab over the palms of your hands and then inserts the swab into a machine. In my case, the machine’s alarms bells and lights went off, and a paper ticket began spewing out of the machine’s mouth. Then I got special treatment.

No, seriously! I didn’t have to wait in line with all the other travelers and place my personal belongings – backpack, purse, computer, cell phone, shoes, and jacket – into gray trays while trying not to infringe on the personal space of the person in front of me and at the same trying not to hold up the people behind me. I got to place my personal belongings into gray trays with no one around me while being watched by a guard who had taken a personal interest in me. After successfully passing the full-body scanner test, (oh wait, I had to do that twice because the guard running that machine forgot to tell me to place my hands above my head,) another guard performed a full-body pat-down. Then I waited as another guard gave all the orifices of my personal belongings the same explosives-residue cotton-swab test. My bags and shoes passed, thank goodness! I’m not sure what would have happened next if any of them had set off more bells, lights, and paper tickets, and I don’t think I want to know. Because first of all, I’m fairly certain that whatever comes next would make me miss my flight. And second of all, I suspect body cavity searches might be next, along with terrorist interrogation tactics, and who wants to go through all of that? It would make for a good story, but here is where my story stops.

The man who probed my bags asked whether I had put on hand lotion that morning, and yes, I had. He said that my lotion probably contained glycerin, which likely triggered their nitroglycerin sensor. Well, there you go.  As most lotions contain glycerin, my word of advice to anyone who travels by air is this: ignore your dry skin and forego the lotion until you have cleared all security checkpoints.

For Anyone Who Speaks

If you ever need to speak, and I mean out loud so that other people can hear you, there is an excellent book I can recommend, “Confessions of a Public Speaker”, by Scott Berkun. The author covers a lot of issues that we all deal with at some point in our lives, whether or not we ever stand on a stage to say something. This book is an easy read, quite entertaining, and doesn’t inspire epiphany so much as it reminds us of things we’ve already learned or just intuitively know. If you’re not comfortable being called on to stand up and say something in front of a small group of peers, this book will help. If you look forward to being called on to stand up and say something in front of any size group make up of any kind of people, this book offers really great logistical and practical tips, and references many resources.  I read the entire book flying to and from Sage Summit last week. Enjoy!

Welcome to the new Micro Business Systems website!

Welcome to our website, and thank you for visiting.

If you visited our website prior to June 2011, you’ve noticed a big change. We used to have a lot of information posted about the products we support, and not much else. That was really helpful to anyone who knew exactly what “product” they were looking for. Well, in our line of work, people don’t go shopping for “products” unless they want to waste a lot of time and money.  Most people search the web for answers to their problems. I know I do. Sometimes I need to know how to do something with what I already have, like get the ball-point ink out of my husband’s shirt. And sometimes I’m looking for a system to solve or prevent a problem, like an emergency notification service for my mother who lives by herself.  In the latter case, I know I’ll need to buy a service, but I don’t know which one, and I’m not educated in this area, so I hope to find a person who can give me the straight scoop on what’s available.

So keeping in mind a principle that is dear to me, “do unto others as you would have done unto you”, we have completely changed the focus of our website to help you find answers. We’re still going to have information about products.  But we will talk more about issues and solutions. We will explore issues of business management, government compliance, technical problems, and daily operations, all with a primary objective of providing an answer or solution. This is how we work every day with the clients we serve, and our website is finally coming in line with our business practice.

I am passionate about my business, which I view as a vehicle to help improve the quality of the lives of people, and by extension, their businesses. I welcome your thoughts and suggestions. Thank you for being here.


Lessons From a Dinner Party

I recently hosted a casual dinner party at my house, and I observed the same behavior from my guests as from many times before, which was that most wanted to help me do “something”. Being a good hostess, I try to have everything prepared ahead of time so that my guests can simply relax and enjoy the food, the wine, and the company. However, no matter how well prepared I am, things come up that need to be done.

Now, sometimes, offers to help are the output of reading Miss Manners Guide to Etiquette, or of being smacked by one’s mother, and the one extending the offer secretly hopes that you will not reply in the affirmative. But most of the time, volunteers genuinely desire to be of use. I have found that accepting assistance makes my guests feel valued and contributes to a greater sense of camaraderie. The “guest experience” is more fulfilling, and I, the hostess, am more roundly feted than if I were to decline all offers. I have turned acquaintances into friends over simple acts of slicing a tomato or setting dishes out on a table.

What do I take from this? When people want to help, let them! It can pay dividends in ways that you can’t even guess.