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Bring on the Noise

by Gary Byrne

December 30, 2011

As I begin writing this blog, one-third of my last business day of 2011 has passed. Many of you are also completing your last business day of the year (that is, of course, if you don’t work on weekends or in a hospital or other emergency businesses that never close). Maybe you’re sitting in an office without the usual keyboard cacophony created in workers’ cubes and distant din of water cooler conversations. Maybe on other days, you’ve been distracted by office noise, but now you’re asking yourself, “Where is everyone? How can I work in this deafening silence?”

Maybe I’m misrepresenting your last business day. A decade ago I worked at a company that announced an acquisition on December 26, so I know businesses don’t always shut down completely during the last week of the year. So instead of writing a blog based on picking trends for 2012, I thought I’d try to ask some Financials Expert and GRC Expert authors and advisors what they are doing on their last business day. Are they involved in any activities that must be completed be the end of the calendar year? Let’s find out.

One hour after starting this blog: So far I received only out-of-office messages from people I’ve contacted. I'm imagining what year-end activities might be happening at offices as I’m writing this blog. Maybe a financial analyst is crunching numbers as part of an organization’s profitability analysis project. That analyst could benefit from reading the Financials Expert article titled “Make Profitability Management More Proactive with the SAP CO-PA Accelerator.” In that article, the authors, Carsten Hilker and Karol Bliznak, make the following statement:

“Today, most of the time spent on profitability management actually is spent on profitability analysis (i.e., gathering the relevant revenue and cost data and creating management reporting compiled to understand trends, challenges, and opportunities as part of period-end management reporting processes).

With SAP HANA revenue, cost and profitability can be made available in real time. Consider the sales force needing to know if its last transactions came through, if a commission is already processed, what the eventual net profitability of a business transaction or event was, and how the actual-to-date numbers are in line with the period-end targets.”

Maybe a financial analyst or a technical analyst is busy updating SAP Notes. Regarding this task, Mitresh Kundalia offers some advice in the Financials Expert article titled “Etip: Use Note Assistant to Automate SAP Notes Implementation”:  

“Note Assistant manages all the SAP Notes centrally, so if an inconsistent status of an SAP Note is discovered, the system notifies you. Another feature, the Modification Assistant, enables you to do follow-up activities after you have imported a Support Package. It also allows you to assign SAP Notes to individual users and then track their status.”

Maybe a security administrator needs to check that access privileges are established for p eople covering for managers who are on vacation. That administrator could benefit from the following advice from Frank Rambo in his GRC Expert article titled “Turn Emergency Access Management into an Auditable, Centralized Process for Your SAP Landscape”:

“Emergency access management is the process to grant temporary critical access privileges in IT systems required to execute an exceptional task and review the system activities performed by the privileged users during that time. This process is a frequent target during system audits as it typically reveals vulnerabilities in the following areas:

• An all-or-nothing approach in the design of emergency access privileges exceeding required privileges to tackle a given exceptional situation by far.
• Business owners hardly involved in the approval and review of emergency access.
• A review of system activities executed with emergency access privileges often is not an auditable process.

Additionally, a tendency to grant business users excessive access privileges to tackle all kinds of rather exceptional situations, such as period-end closing activities or master data maintenance, often leads to segregation of duties (SoD) issues throughout their access privileges.”

Two hours after starting this blog: I actually connected with one of my advisors. However, I didn’t receive an answer to my question about any activities that must be completed on the last day of business.

Three hours after starting this blog: I received one reply to my question from a Financials Expert author. She told me she&r squo;s working from home. She said she heard that her company had set a late December deadline for receipt of invoices that it generates; however, an alternative date in January was set, so I can’t count this as an activity that can’t be pushed over to the new year.

Four hours after starting this blog: No activity anymore. Fewer and fewer people are in the office. I think I’ll give up on this effort. I’m looking forward to returning to the office on January 3. The keyboards will be clanking again, phones will be ringing, and my inbox will be filled with replies that aren’t labeled out of office. To paraphrase Sting, bring on the noise; I couldn’t take another hour of silence.

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