Surveying the Existing Business Organization
in Connection With Effective Machine Methods
of Processing Data (Non-electronic)
By GORDON L . MURRAY
PARTNER, CHICAGO OFFICE
Presented before the National Association of Cost Accountants,
Fall Seminar Meeting, St. Louis Chapter — October 1956
I have been asked to discuss the subject of effective machine
methods of processing data in terms of the methods study which provides
the basis for any sound decision regarding mechanical data processing.
In one sense my part in this seminar represents the less
glamorous phase of the subject. Our colleagues who will cover the
later subjects in this forum are free to talk about the many machines,
devices, gadgets, and other marvelous paraphernalia comprising the
tools of the modern-day accountant. The variety of kinds, sizes, types,
and pedigrees of hardware has become so great that it has given rise
to a new industry representing the various services now on the market.
For a price, one now can subscribe to services which offer 10 to
15 pounds of pictures, descriptions, and specifications of available —
or soon to be available--equipment as well as a steady stream of new
releases a la Prentice-Hall and Commerce Clearing House.
A browse through such a catalog is a rather invigorating experience.
Those responsible for accounting and other data-processing activities
in an organization can visualize easy solutions to a wide range
of problems. The risk of permitting company presidents and other
members of top-management, not directly concerned with paper- and
clerical-work, to see such a catalog is that they might well conclude
their controllers and accountants have been missing the boat. Their
reasoning might be that it is no longer necessary to put up with rising
clerical costs, delays in reports, errors in statistics, and other such
problems. Instead, they might reason, "Let us get our name on a purchase
order and get a set of equipment delivered as soon as possible."
Unfortunately, complex problems are not solved that easily.
The flood of new equipment which we have all seen, particularly
since World War II, is truly wonderful. But because the flood is so
great and there is such an increasing variety of equipment, confusion
can easily result. The problem of selecting equipment is more diffi-