The Role of the Accountant in Electronic Data Processing
by WALTER H. HANSHAW Manager, Management Advisory Services Chicago Office
Presented before the American Public Power Association Tenth Annual Accounting & Finance Workshop, Kansas City—October 1964
MY FUNCTION this afternoon is to challenge you, to stimulate you, and to leave you a number of questions to answer.
It is ironic that, among the leaders in the application of electronic data processing equipment, public utilities are as guilty of a lack of integration of data processing activities as anyone else.
The design of individual systems, whether they be manual, mechanized, or a combination of the two, has been concerned primarily with accomplishing
a specific job, in a well-organized manner, no thought being given to the communication of inter-relation between systems. The development of computer systems has been concentrated on jobs that require the processing of large volumes of documents—for example, revenue accounting. These are the jobs that can be economically justified primarily because of the elimination
of clerical effort.
It is possible for a computer system to be functioning three shifts a day without any real integration of systems activities taking place, and this accurately describes the state of the art in a great many installations today.
Development of systems in this manner usually does not give management
the timely information required on all functions of the organization necessary to control and operate the business effectively.
It is time that traditional concepts be forced to the test of a thorough re-examination. Unless you accept the challenge of re-thinking your basic approach to the use of electronic data processing equipment and, corollary to this, think in terms of the basic objectives of your business as well, you may find yourself misusing the tools available to you.
INTEGRATED INFORMATION-CONTROL SYSTEM
At first blush these words may sound as though I am talking to the wrong audience. I do not think so and to support this belief I should like to read from a recent proposal letter we submitted to a utility client. By way of background: The controller had been assigned to conduct a study to determine how best to utilize computers throughout all of the functions and departments of the utility and to determine how to organize the sys-