Sometimes Staff Has to do the Work

Sometimes staff has to do the work...

As a child, I was attracted to computers because of the games. As a young professional, I was attracted to computers to make my life easier (because I'm inherently lazy!). So when I work with my clients, I love to automate as much as can be automated. But sometimes we just gotta do the work ourselves, because it makes no sense (time or money or both) to try to make the computer do the work for us.

Case in point: a client of mine was recently trying to figure out how to make their database manage deferred revenue for ad insertions in their magazine. Their practice (a common one) is to book the order now but not invoice for the ad until the magazine is printed. After much discussion about what it would take to program the database to manage this, a wise staffer pointed out that staff could just capture the orders when they are originally placed (no financials associated with the orders), and create the invoices after the magazine had printed. Thus no need for deferred revenue. Problem solved!

Would it be "easier" for staff if the system would manage deferred revenue and they could create just one invoice and be done? Yes, it would. But the reality is that the magazine only prints every other month, and there are fewer than 20 ads per issue, so staff has to create 20 invoices once every two months. Maybe two hours of work.

It's not automatic, but it's not that much work, and it's far less expensive than trying to program the database to do it for them. Sometimes staff just has to do the work.

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