Tony’s recent post regarding using a wiki as an accounting system details some of the problems we have had with traditional accounting software and how we have been able to use a wiki to overcome these.
The thing I love most about having information on a wiki is that I can see it from multiple locations. I no longer have to go into the office to use the one machine that holds the accounting information or to check a folder full of paper when I want to know which suppliers need to be paid. Of course the web has given me this ability for years so there must be more to the wiki than that. And there is. I believe the power of the wiki is in how easy it is to use. People actually take the information we receive in the post and put it onto the wiki instead of leaving it in files with a note to work out what to do with it later.
Financial information falls into a class of information that no-one wants to touch. If you want anyone to update your accounting information they usually require specialist training. And some accounting software makes it really hard to change data once it’s been entered. If we had created a web-based accounting system we, like so many others, would probably have ended up recreating something like Sage only with the ability to use this remotely with multiple users. Although this would probably be more useful than the system we used to have we wouldn’t have trained all our staff in how to use it. As we use wikis to store all information all members of staff are comfortable with them and can enter the financial information. We have removed the complexity that used to be involved in entering financial information because it’s no longer seen as a special class of information. It’s just more data about the business that it would be useful to have on the wiki.
It still requires specialist knowledge to understand and make use of the data we are storing to improve the business but now information can be entered easily without the wiki user having to understand how to use nominal, purchase and sales ledgers or to even know what a journal entry is.