In my previous post, I provided a list of gifts that Finance should give their application developers for the holidays. But, giving should be mutual. So now, as promised, a holiday gift list for Finance from application developers:

1. Accounting Training for Yourself

Yes, we know you like software. You don’t want to be an accountant. But learning even the basics of accounting will buy you SO much credibility with the finance staff. As business intelligence consultants, I can tell you that they’ll be shocked and delighted to find a techie who has some understanding of an income statement or balance sheet and knows the difference between the two. There are many accounting for non-accountants classes out there. It’ll only take you a couple of days. But it will pay dividends for years.

2. A Promise to Reconcile Your Output Before Passing It Off

Large organizations have dedicated software testers. But in the mid-size world where we operate as business intelligence consultants, that’s often not the case. I’m going to assume you’ve progressed beyond the “if it compiles, it must work” school of thought. But even so, I’m asking that with every program you write, you ask yourself, “How do I know the output is correct?” Compare to another system. Compare to a stock report. Compare to a backup spreadsheet (even if you have to build it).

Final signoff is still the business’s responsibility. But it’s still your responsibility to check that the output is correct before passing it off.

3. A Straight Face

Finance users say some pretty silly things. They grab on to technical language they don’t really understand. So, you get lots of requests that start with, “Can you just…?” As in, “Can you just write a query?” “Can you just write a report?” “Can you just build a quick fix?”

As an application developer, you know these requests are the equivalent of “Can you just write a new system?” or “Can you just wave a wand?”

But in the spirit of the holidays, gently guide your users to understand just how much work is involved. Laughing at them (either to their faces or back in your department) isn’t helpful. And the same principles apply when you ask Finance “Can’t we just tell the auditors to come back tomorrow?”

4. A Promise to Invest in Technologies that Help the Business, Not Just Your Resume

In most companies, software applications can be divided into four categories:

  • Category 1: Software that doesn’t work well and needs to be replaced
  • Category 2: Software that works well but needs to be cleaned up
  • Category 3: Software that works okay but isn’t cool
  • Category 4: Software that works just okay but is really cool.

Today, everyone working in corporate America is thinking about his/her next position. It’s the reality of the economy. And developers want to stay current to optimize their job prospects. But at the same time, they work for a business. So, they need to make sure they don’t confuse categories 1 and 2 (i.e. software that needs to be replaced versus software that needs to be cleaned up). And they should always aim to get stuff that works, not stuff that’s really cool.

5. Anything But Sci-Fi Paraphernalia

Sorry, but Finance types just aren’t that hip. They’d like to be. They’d like to hang out the cool kids in sales and product development. But having sci-fi paraphernalia on display isn’t going to help their cause. So leave it alone.


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