Business as Usual

Business as Usual (BAU) Accounting

If we see the trend with accountancy and the use of AI, the terms ‘Accountant,’ Book keeper’ or ‘bean counter’ are becoming extinct as AI takes on the drudge work and ERP systems turn every operator into ‘Administrator’

There are some unintended consequences to this.

Firstly, operational personnel are now more aware of the effect of accurate input, even dates are becoming more sensitive to systems approaches as ERP modules have been more crucial to performance reporting as the multi-disciplinary and cross functional data in them affects more directly other processes. In a perfect world a purchase order system would link seamlessly to stock input, pricing and cost control, correct accrual accounting and purchase ledger input and payment.

Reality is somewhat different. I have yet to see a seamless version of this in the many organisations that ignore the Purchasing order module completely and the hapless ‘Business partner’ has to rely on word of mouth for getting accruals and Goods Received Not Invoiced correctly accounted for.

It is no coincidence that the phrase ‘ Business partner’ (BP) has proliferated with the advent of ERP systems, Is this because a BP has also to monitor input and usage at point of entry, so in effect the ‘strategic role’ of BPs process is only part of the job specification . We have seen many ERP systems make claims about seamless data and breaking down traditional silos, yet I still see examples of senior personnel physically signing off and approving every invoice that comes into the organisation.

Business as Usual appears to mean retaining embedded habits and processes because in truth the system is not trusted and we haven’t truly embraced AI. Clinging to old habits is a habit that needs abandoning

Secondly, the external environment is rapidly changing and the acronym VUCA is basically the new normal, so what exactly is the ‘usual’ in ‘Business as Usual’ Firms that don’t respond to the changing environment face extinction. Systems that were destined for one way of operating may need overhauling because of external stimuli. Strategic direction is being questioned as markets change.

There is a fine balance between a sustainable business model and one that does not change in relation to the outside world. Firms need to continually revisit their definition of ‘sustainable’ because the crucial barrier to future success may just be your present success. Life cycles of business and products can be extended bit there is a difference between behaving like Kodak and failing to embrace digital imaging and IBM who have moved away from purely supplying hardware.

So too with another buzz phrase ‘project management’ which has assumed the mantle of cultural change managers when it comes to projects invariably involving IT. To see ‘Project management’ as a series of unrelated ideas is perhaps complementary to ‘Business as Usual’ as Executives are conscious of not disturbing established business models and practices, perhaps through fear of the unknown.

The business that recognises that project (change) management is not a separate and discreet exercise but one that should be embraced at every level and across disciplines is the business that views change as ‘ Business as Usual’. Project Managers should appreciate that the very categorisation of their ‘project’ is perhaps anathema to the BAU idea.