Accountant and entrepreneur
John Tate is a qualified accountant and entrepreneur. He is a columnist for Charity Finance, a visiting lecturer at Cass Business School's Centre for Charity Effectiveness and Trustee of Eduserv. He also non executive chair of Civil Society Media.
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In an increasingly online world, information technology has become a key driver of success for charities but also one in which charities struggle to keep up with developments. The Charity IT Survey 2009 allows charities of all shapes and sizes to benchmark themselves against their peers. Once again, the benefit of data integration across departments is highlighted, especially in the context of web based solutions. With increasing representation at board level, IT is just about holding its own in the contest for resources but charities are finding it difficult to really drive improvements with major investment or to adopt new technologies as they emerge.
The web puts integration back on the agenda, says John Tate. Twenty years ago I left my job as a finance director in the commercial sector and set up an IT business. 1989 was the start of perhaps the last recession. Early clients in my IT business included organisations in the charity sector.
John Tate says the web is a real danger to charities’ reputations.
Technology is meant to improve efficiency, says John Tate. I gave a couple of talks last month to finance directors in the commercial sector on the future of IT. In my sessions I asked two questions. Firstly, how many of you work for organisations where the senior management con-sistently replies to staff emails? Of the 100 or so delegates only 2 or 3 put their hands up.
The recession appears to be having an effect on every aspect of a charity's operations, and accounting software is no exception. Making an assessment on whether purchasing a new system is justified at present as spending is reigned in, or whether a new product could bring vital improvements to financial decisionmaking, could be crucial in the current climate. This survey will help make that call.
How much priority should IT projects be given in the current climate? January kicked off with considerable excitement at my home. My 18 year old daughter is in her gap year and works for a local leisure company. They have a shop on the premises that sells snacks and drinks to customers and a batch of crisps reached their sell by date at the end of the first week in January. The leisure company had a policy of giving staff any foodstuff that reached the end of its saleable life. So cometh the day the staff enjoyed a super mega feasting of crisps.