Friday, 12 August 2011

Costs and Calendars

Back at work for a  whole week now, and first blog post. Not being lazy (although getting back into the swing of things after a couple of weeks lazing by a pool is hard), just not a lot to write about.  Spent the usual few hours deleting emails - I've tried to be quite rigorous recently in clicking the "unsubscibe" button on many of them, and it has paid off, but still indundated with suppliers thinking I'm actually going to read their cold emails.

One of the first things I had to grapple with on my return was a new calendar - we went live with Google calendar for all staff whilst I was off, and now everything is different!  A new interface - web only, no client - and different ways of doing things. I have so say, so far I'm impressed with the functionality, especially the integration with email, the overlaying of different calendars and the amazing colour scheme I seem to have ended up with! The synchronisation with mobile devices is also good.  The biggest headache we had as a department was migrating all of the data from our existing Oracle calendar to Google. Some places haven't even attempted it, just gone live with the new calendar and given staff instructions on how to move meetings. We decided to be more helpful than that, and exported the data out of Oracle and imported it into Google. Not as simple as it sounds! Calendar data is quite complex, and because of the way data around resources connected to meetings, repeating meetings and different attendance statuses are held, we had several test runs, testing the data, picking up anomalies, correcting it, running it again etc. Eventually we were confident that the data was pretty good quality - at least 95% accurate and better in some cases. A lot of work was done by the people involved, and some very long hours worked - a great job by team.

Other meetings this week included one on activity based costing - or trying to understand the cost of what we do. We've already done quite a lot of work on this, and this year have completely restructured our account codes to make it easier to report. No longer are budgets held and orders coded by organisational structure, but by service. Staff costs are also being allocated to services and activities, so we should be able to get some good data on how much individual activities cost. This will then feed into decision making about services, and whether we're using our resources in the right way.

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