idu Software

Thursday, 6 June 2019

The 10X employee



The myth of the 10X programmer has long done the rounds in the software world. Stories abound of unicorn software engineers that can churn out 10 times, or 100 times, as much code as the average programmer. The rockstar coders that accelerate startups with their ninja skills.

For some people there is no doubt that the 10X programmer exists, and is essential to success. The argument goes that programming is not linear, so 10X programmers can compound experience, knowledge, an uncanny ability to achieve efficiencies, and a creative flair for coding that allows them to outstrip their team mates.

The other side of the argument goes that it doesn’t matter whether or not they exist, rather that very often these 10X programmers cause so much disruption (of the unhelpful kind) in the long-term, that they aren’t worth the short-term wins. This chaos ranges from technical debt – where down the line the fallout from their “genius” causes a whole lot more coding and debugging work; to poor culture fits: the stereotype of the unapproachable, unwashed, sleep-deprived coder.

Whatever your views on the 10X programmer, it is very clear that we all need to 10X our skills and experience to remain relevant in a rapidly digitalising, fourth industrial revolution world. This challenge was rather beautifully summed up, as only an accountant could, at our user conference earlier this year.

“Am I an asset to my company?” asked one of the attendees during a keynote and Q&A session with Sameer Rawjee, the founder of Google’s Life Design Lab, and currently working with companies and schools to tackle continuous learning and purpose at work.

“Or am I just OpEx?” the attendee continued.

The rest of the audience of accountants chuckled that he had managed to avoid using the word “liability”. But this insightful question really gets to the heart of a matter that affects us all, as individuals and business owners in a rapidly changing workplace. How do we ensure we stay relevant in our own roles, plus, as leaders, how can we help our people stay valuable in our companies?

I think that on day one of our jobs, we are all assets to our company. But that we run the risk of depreciating every single day, unless we actively work to ensure our growth, to 10X ourselves and the people around us continuously, to keep pace, stay relevant and remain impactful.

Darwin nailed it when he highlighted adaptability as the key to survival. And today, as digitalisation gains pace, we need to adapt over a shorter time frame than ever before. However, if companies and their people adopt the right mindset, this offers immense opportunity.

Much has already been written about how AI and automation promises to relieve us from repetitive, mundane work. And it is becoming increasingly clear that companies will need to spend some of the savings and increased earnings gained from digitalisation’s greater efficiencies and productivity on helping their people continue to learn. In the same way that businesses have an imperative to digitalise in order to survive, they have a moral obligation to their people to help them adapt around these changes.

Ensuring that we stay one step ahead of the machines, doing the things that AI can’t yet, or won’t ever, do is the sweet spot of how we can 10X our careers. A good way, and perhaps the only way, to focus on the things that the machines can’t do, is to hone in on the skills that require emotional intelligence. One of the challenges here is that these skills are difficult to measure and grade in the formal learning system. But, ironically, they could be the key to successful uptake of automation and AI in an organisation as well: communicating change effectively; listening empathetically to people’s concerns; leading the way in this new way of working. These are all “soft” skills. Others that will be critical to the take up of digitalisation are creative problem solving and ethical judgement.

A way that this ongoing learning can happen, I would suggest, is that responsibility needs to be shared. Individuals must identify their areas of growth, and companies need to ensure that everyone is very clear about the business’s vision, goals and plans, so that the two can align.

This is not dissimilar to how I advise companies to canvass the grassroots of their organisation during the budget process as they know what needs to be done at the coalface, especially during tough times. Likewise it’s the people on the ground who know what they need to learn to remain relevant, and happy, in their roles. They may not always get it right but it is the role of management to guide them and help them align their goals with what the company needs to survive and grow. 

Working to continuously 10X our careers, and those of our people, is going to ensure we remain true assets, constantly appreciating, and continuously adding value in ever-changing times. And never becoming expenses, or worse, liabilities.

As published on ITWeb - June 2019





Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Why cloud-first shouldn’t mean cloud-only



It’s been ten years since Oracle’s Larry Ellison had his Thomas Watson moment, dismissing cloud computing as a fad, nonsense and absurd. Clearly, in the same way that the number of computers in use around the world didn’t cap out at five units, as IBM’s Watson predicted in 1943, cloud computing has gone from strength to strength, with worldwide spend on cloud infrastructure in 2018 estimated at in excess of $80 billion and still growing.

Fast forward a short decade, and it’s almost as if cloud computing is barely worth a mention. It’s a bit like saying an appliance is powered by electricity. Well, obviously… We take cloud’s economic model as table stakes now: allowing companies of all sizes to access the best services for them, quickly, cost-effectively and with minimal support required, whether or not the vendor has set up shop in their country. Cloud services helped break the stranglehold of the black box ERP vendors giving companies flexibility, user-friendly interfaces and solutions to niche requirements. Crucially they, on the whole, improved security and allowed SMEs, and even individuals, to access enterprise-grade software services.

But, in comparison to the latest headline grabbing buzzwords, such as AI and machine learning, in some quarters cloud is now fairly middle of the road. So why am I still writing about it today?

Well, it’s not plain sailing just yet. And it’s worth checking in on some of the assumptions around cloud we might wrongly think are foregone conclusions.

I’ve written about one before: the incompatibility between the latest legislation to protect personal identification information, such as Europe’s GDPR, and laws trying to fight terrorism, such as the US’s CLOUD Act (Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act), which allows the US authorities to request data from US service providers, wherever in the world this data is stored, and without telling the people whose personal data is involved. Given that four out of five of the top cloud service providers by market share are US companies – that’s a lot of personal information about a lot of people including US and non-US citizens. CLOUD and GDPR are clearly in direct opposition to each other, and furthermore both complicate cloud services where the service provider, the data centre, the company collecting the personal identification data and the customer could be each located in separate countries. For now, the stalemate between GDPR and CLOUD continues.

Another assumption that we should be careful of making is that everyone around the world has the same access to internet bandwidth and data as the highly urbanised regions of the developed world – where, typically, cloud services are designed and built. Despite the massive advances in internet connectivity around the globe, it is still the case that some countries, and also remoter regions in well-connected nations, don’t have the level of access to always-on internet connectivity required by cloud services.

Take Tuvalu, the South Pacific island nation, and one of our clients. Ironically, for a country whose second biggest export is the .tv top level internet domain name, it is one of most unconnected countries in the world. While connectivity via a submarine fibre optical cable is in planning, it is currently connected to the rest of the world via limited, and expensive, satellite communications. Cloud computing services are simply a non-starter here.

Likewise that branch office in a small town that still only has basic DSL or dial-up connectivity, or a mining operation in a distant province, won’t benefit from the same advantages of the cloud-based service as the head office in the city, and, in a worst case scenario, may end up in a complete disconnect from the HQ.

And, even when internet connectivity is broadly universal, a secondary issue such as regular power outages could impact a company or individual’s ability to access cloud services. An SME in a big city like Johannesburg or Lagos that can’t afford a generator could be disconnected from basics such as email during a power outage.

In a cloud-first world, these branch and field offices, and SMEs, won’t have the same options of services to choose from and subsequent productivity gains thanks to a better fitting offering. Instead of being able to self-service, they’ll be stuck in the black box consultant loop, with lengthy installation and customisation loops, and an invoice to match. Their ability to collaborate will be limited, their data will be slightly out of date and out of joint, and they’ll miss out on cloud economies of scale. And mothership will miss out on critical input from the coalface of their organisation.

So sure, think cloud-first, but don’t think cloud-only. Consider ways to practically enable your people who don’t have the same access to the cloud that you do, without regressing back to the days of the mega-installation of on-premise kit.

As published AccountingWeb - May 2019 


Thursday, 23 May 2019

Improved Accountability and Ownership at The Royal Agricultural & Horticultural Society of South Australia Inc. (RAHS)




The Royal Agricultural & Horticultural Society of South Australia Inc. (RAHS) is the organiser of the state's largest ticketed event, the Royal Adelaide Show, which attracts approximately 30% of South Australia's population. Further to this, the Adelaide Showground provides facilities to more than 100 exhibitions, conventions and banquets each year.

The Royal Agricultural & Horticultural Society SA implemented the Enterprise Edition of idu-Concept’s Budgeting & Reporting Modules in 2018.  This has led to a significant change in their day-to-day operation in comparison to the excel macro workbooks that were being used prior to implementing IDU.

idu-Concept allows for real-time, up to date analysis of actual against budget figures, enabling all divisional managers to track their progress and thus reduces the month end reporting processes. Managers are able to review their results at any time in the month, and to adapt accordingly.

Pressures and demands on finance staff have been reduced as non-financial managers can now access their information directly from idu-Concept whereas previously they had to request detailed reports from the finance department.

“With all staff able to concurrently access individual project areas within idu-Concept and either review results, set budgets or make changes, our 'budget setting season' is less stressful for all and reduces the time needed for the process” - Hayley Herbst, General Manager Finance & Corporate

The ability to assign access to specific areas of the budget to specific staff members has led to greater accountability within those areas.

Using idu-Concept has streamlined the overall budgeting process, and allows non-finance staff to access their areas, interrogate costs and understand how they are tracking against budget without having to request reports from Finance or wait for excel workbooks to be updated.

“The software has interfaced directly with our job costing software and has provided access to our staff who have now taken ownership of their budgets. The ability to drill down to the financial entries has given a visibility to the actual versus budget results that has been well received by staff at all levels” – Vicki Baulderstone, Finance Officer

The monthly board reporting can now involve all areas of the business simultaneously and has reduced the amount of time required to complete the review of the financials. The annual budget process has input from all levels of management and therefore has greater commitment to the budget from the staff.

About The Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society of South Australia
The Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society of South Australia was founded in November 1839 as the South Australian Agricultural Society "for the advancement of agricultural and pastoral knowledge, and to promote the development of the natural resources of our noble colony."  They are responsible for staging of the Royal Adelaide Show, Royal Adelaide Wine Show and other events. The Society is a membership-based, non-profit organisation – its main aim is to encourage the pursuit of excellence in primary industry, to educate the public about rural product and to encourage young people in their pursuit of agricultural education.


Wednesday, 15 May 2019

How to know when it’s time to move from away from spreadsheet-based budgeting and adopt specialised planning software?


Spreadsheets are a wonderful tool and have served many a small business’ budgeting, forecasting and planning needs. But there comes a time when you need to look at moving across to specialised financial software that gives you more control over, and insight into, your financial information.
Here are 4 ways to know that time has come…

Your business is growing in size and complexity 
Spreadsheets are perfectly fine for small simple companies; but as you start to grow and expand your services or gain employees and even potentially expand your focus, you need more input and have to start consolidating spreadsheets. Macros and formulas get increasingly complicated and can break and your spreadsheets become unusable. 

There are currently few safeguards for data governance, or data quality, making spreadsheets a poor choice for organisations that need to share data or conduct complex analysis.  

Specialised CPM software removes the need for sending spreadsheets back and forth, it gives everyone an accurate real-time view of the data within the database.

Multiple businesses under one company
Consolidating budgets and forecasts across multiple departments is difficult enough; trying to do so with multiple departments from multiple businesses in a spreadsheet is pure madness. 

Different businesses have different reporting needs, they need different information to make the right decisions for their budgeting, forecasting and planning. And one error made in one department of one of the businesses can leave analysis of the bigger picture for the holding company impossible and completely skewed. 

Specialised software provides you with the means to pull multiple versions of reports based on the information you need, and allows you to get the meaningful analysis you need to make your business decisions. 

Too many cooks...
In a smaller business, there is usually one person who manages your finances - one person collecting data, inputting it and creating reports from it. Spreadsheets are created for this - calculating values and crunching numbers. The only weakness in this set up is that one person. 

Once you start growing, you will start having more managers who have valuable information to contribute and have a need for pulling their own reports with data relevant to their own divisions or departments. If all of these people begin interacting with that spreadsheet, the weaknesses and room for error begin to multiply. 

This is the time to look at a dedicated software solution that can offer more than the basics. 

“User Friendly” is more than words
When you want to be able to get input and feedback from non-financial users in your business - the people who are on the front line, managing your business; you need your data to be accessible and understandable to everyone. 

Spreadsheets and endless lists of data are extremely intimidating to people who are not financially inclined, leading to resistance and avoidance; delaying your budgeting process and causing undue stress for all involved. 

There is dedicated financial software that is specially designed to be properly user friendly; making the budgeting and forecasting process simple and beneficial to financial and non-financial users.  

With Corporate Performance Management (CPM) solutions becoming readily available in the Cloud there is no better time to look at making this change. Software-as-a-Service solutions like IDU Cloud are a cost-effective alternative for companies looking to adopt a world class specialist budgeting, forecasting and reporting solution without large capital expenditure outlays.  

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Am I an asset, or am I just OpEx?



“Am I an asset to my company? Or am I ….” The audience of accountants collectively inhaled, wondering if the attendee asking the question was going to go there. “Or am I just OpEx?” he asked, neatly sidestepping saying the word “liability” J.

Only an accountant could have summed up the existential crisis that we are all probably experiencing around our role in the workplace, in this way. The question came up during our recent annual user conference in Cape Town, South Africa. The general theme of the conference was how transformed budgeting and reporting processes can help companies adapt quickly to constant and rapid change. This specific question was raised during a lively presentation and Q&A session with Sameer Rawjee, the founder of Google’s Life Design Lab, and currently working with companies and schools to tackle continuous learning and purpose at work.

And it’s an interesting and useful question. Plus a very valid one. My view is that on day one of our jobs, we are all assets to our company, that is why we were employed in the first place. But, just like when you drive that brand new car off the lot and into the street, we start depreciating every day. However, and continuing the analogy, in the same way that you can give that car a lick of paint, replace the tyres with more fancy ones, or put in leather seats, to prevent its value falling, and maybe even increasing it; we can ensure our own worth, and the worth of the people around us, staying relevant in an ever-changing world and perhaps even increasing our value in the process.

This non-linear career path is a sign of the times. Previously, accountants especially were onto a pretty sure thing: a predictable career path where hard work and experience progressed you along the ranks. And your skills remained relevant from the very first day till the day you rode off into the retirement sunset. Sure, you got better at what you did, you might specialise in a certain area, or you might encounter unusual jobs that gave you unique experience, but, fundamentally the role stayed the same.

Today, the world is different and the saying “the only constant today is change” is very much relevant. Add to that, there is the very real chance that machines, or artificial intelligence (AI) could take over much of our roles, totally disrupting them by doing them better, faster and more accurately. Where does that leave the us as the employees?

I’ve said this before, but Darwin nailed it when he identified adaptability as the key to survival. Never before has this been more true, and the need to adapt is over a shorter time frame than ever before. And, if companies and their people adopt the right mindset, this offers immense opportunity for all.

Individuals will need to constantly reinvent themselves, learn continuously and move fast. And the place to start looking is at what sets your passions alight and can’t be done by artificial intelligence, and, if you can find some overlap here then you may well be onto a winner. Individuals who do not, are depreciating at an ever-increasing rate. And we know what happens to a fully depreciated, redundant asset: it gets replaced.

Companies, inevitably, will need to spend some of those savings and increased earnings brought about by digitalisation’s greater efficiencies and productivity on helping their people learn. In the same way that businesses have an imperative to digitalise in order to survive, they have a moral obligation to their people to help them adapt around these changes.

During a recession mindset, as we are experiencing now around the world, business leaders might be tempted to save by not investing in training and ongoing learning. In addition, much of what your people might need to learn are the so-called “soft skills” (a far better term is essential skills, in my opinion) which have typically been neglected partly because they are so hard to measure and grade in the formal learning system.

But retraining your people makes good business sense as well. For AI to be effective, it needs to work well with people. And as AI gains new capabilities, people need to keep shifting to the next area of competency that AI has not yet reached.

The ideal version of this scenario is where people keep moving into spaces that they love, doing things that they enjoy and create meaning for them. And that these new skills and capabilities align with progressing the goals of the company. For this to happen, responsibility needs to be shared. Individuals must identify their areas of ongoing learning, and companies need to ensure that everyone is very clear about the business’s vision, goals and plans, so that the two can align. Just like my advice to canvass the grassroots of your organisation during the budget process, especially during tough times, it’s the people on the ground who know what they need to learn to remain relevant, and happy, in their roles. They may not always get it right but it is the role of management to guide them and help them align their goals with what the company needs to survive and grow.  

And then, there is no doubt that you, and your people, are true assets, constantly appreciating, and continuously adding value in ever-changing times. And never becoming expenses, or worse, liabilities.

As published on AccountingWeb - April 2019 

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Retailability recommends IDU after the efficient and professional implementation of idu-Concept




Retailability (Pty) Ltd is a retailer of fashion apparel intended to offer fashionable in house and branded labels at low price points targeted at lower to middle income consumers in Southern Africa.  The group comprises of three brands, namely Style, Legit and Beaver Canoe.

Together these brands operate over 430 stores across 6 countries in Southern Africa.

Retailability required a budgeting and reporting solution for their multi-currency and multiple ledger environment due to the lack of budgeting functionality and reporting limitations within SAGE 300. After an extensive evaluation process, they selected IDU.

The idu-Concept Reporting Module was implemented in October 2018 followed shortly by the Budgeting Module in December 2018.

“The spec’ing, design, build and implementation process was efficiently and professionally managed and was delivered on time and within budget.”  - Malcolm Smith, Chief Financial Officer.

The product is still new in our environment, but we are quickly learning and becoming familiar with it. Our reporting has been simplified and we are able to prepare our month end accounts in a much shorter time period, and with the peace of mind that the output is derived from a robust reporting system.

The Budgeting Module has been configured to our business requirements and has removed the challenges and frustrations we had previously encountered with Excel.

“I have found the IDU team to be highly professional and responsive to our needs and would recommend IDU without reservation.”

About Retailability (Pty) Ltd
Founded in 1984, Retailability (Pty) Ltd is a South African based group of retail brands including Legit, Beaver Canoe and Style. With over 430 stores across Southern Africa including South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and Zambia – Retailability prides itself in bringing authentic and affordable fashion to our customers.


Tuesday, 9 April 2019




IDU are delighted to be acknowledged as a Leader in the Budgeting and Forecasting category by the prestigious G2 Crowd 2019 Spring Report, published earlier this month.

The report which ranks and compares leading Budgeting, Reporting and Corporate Performance Management (CPM) solutions based on market presence and customer satisfaction ratings was released on the 1st April 2019.

G2 Crowd releases Grid® and Index Reports on a quarterly basis, ranking products based on reviews gathered from their user community, as well as data from online sources and social networks.

idu-Concept has been named a Leader based on receiving a high customer satisfaction score and having a large market presence in the Budgeting and Forecasting category.  Most of our users gave us great feedback and expressed a belief that our company is headed in the right direction, they also indicated that they would be likely to recommend idu-Concept to others. 

 “We are incredibly grateful to our customers once again for taking the time to share their feedback on the G2 Crowd platform. We pride ourselves on delivering the best possible product and user experience to our customers, and these wonderful positive reviews are a testament to that.” Kevin Phillips, CEO, IDU.

We wanted to share some of the amazing feedback we received from our customers in their latest reviews:

“Using idu-Concept has streamlined our overall budgeting process, and allows non-finance staff to access their areas, interrogate costs and understand how they are tracking against budget without having to request reports from Finance or wait for excel workbooks to be updated”

“I cannot (and don't want to) imagine life of budgeting/forecasting/reporting without IDU.”

“IDU is not only a great and easy to use budgeting application, but helps drive day to day ownership of business unit or departmental budgets, cost management, revenue growth and variance reporting by the business unit or department leaders. “

To read the full list of reviews please visit the IDU page on G2 Crowd

Read more about IDU or to schedule a demo of our software visit our website at www.idusoft.com.

About G2 Crowd
G2 Crowd, the world’s leading business solution review platform, leverages more than 440,000 user reviews to drive better purchasing decisions. Business professionals, buyers, investors, and analysts use the site to compare and select the best software and services based on peer reviews and synthesized social data. Every month, more than one million people visit G2 Crowd’s site to gain unique insights. Co-founded by the founder and former executives of SaaS leaders like BigMachines (acquired by Oracle) and SteelBrick (acquired by Salesforce) and backed by more than $45 million in capital, G2 Crowd aims to bring authenticity and transparency to the business marketplace. For more information, go to G2Crowd.com.