A Practical Approach to Electronic Data Processing
BY ROBERT G. WRIGHT Partner, Chicago Office
Presented before the Sectional meeting of the National Association of Accountants, St. Louis — February 1960, and before the Pittsburgh
Chapter of Systems and Procedures Association — March 1960
NEARLY EVERY SCHOOL CHILD who watches a parade has an urge to join the procession. There is a parade going on today—the parade of new developments in data processing and management control.
Leading the parade is management, seeking better ways of planning, measuring, and controlling. Next comes a long line of new techniques for doing these things: operations research, profit planning,
management by exception, etc. Finally, there is an impressive group of machines and devices designed to provide the means for applying the new techniques.
Some companies are merely watching this parade go by, waiting for the ultimate in data processing and management control. Some, like school children, have responded to the urge and have found that impulse buying is expensive in this field. Others are seeking a practical
way of falling in line in order to find out what the parade has to offer.
The problem, then, is this: How do you decide when to investigate
the many new machines? How can you tell whether EDP has been developed to the point that your company should adopt it?
The answer is surprisingly simple. There are so many machines available today—in all price ranges and capabilities—that you really don't need to concern yourself with them at the outset. Instead, you assume that appropriate equipment is available and that differences in manufacture are relatively immaterial. Then, you fix your attention where it belongs—on your existing system and your own data-processing
requirements. Your first decision is whether or not you really need to overhaul your existing system.
The suggested approach de-emphasizes the study of hardware. It consists of two stages. In stage one you make a general diagnosis of the effectiveness of your present system, for after all there should be a good reason for scrapping it in favor of EDP. In stage two you make a realistic feasibility study—one that is as inexpensive and short in
DEVELOPING THE SOLUTION