Balancing Act is a multi-part book, which has some personal history to try to make it a bit more interesting. It can be used to understand the following more deeply:
- Part 1 – The Pearl gives a summary of the problems of accounting systems as they have developed, and what the next generation of them might look like. This is a summary section.
- Part 2 – The Professor give a simply computer analogy of a business meeting, helping to understand the key principles behind how computers deal with financial data. It then gives a quick overview of accounting, and then discusses how accounting could be accomplished in different forms by focusing on business events which may allow for better use of our financial data. This is a introductory principles section.
- Part 3 – The Partner give more clarity on why our systems are as our systems are. It goes much deeper into computer systems and the business systems that have been built on them. It deals with subsystems, on-line verses batch, large consolidated verse distributed systems, data warehousing, operational systems, code efficiencies, ERP, databases and others. This is a experienced practitioner section.
- Part 4 – The Projects is a suggested method for building financial reporting systems. It uses the Scalable Architecture for Financial Reporting, or SAFR but many tools could be used to accomplish these steps, including how to identify business events; a practical approach to data cleansing and creating reference data to support new insights from the events; estimating reporting process timing and hardware, and business full scale applications if needed. This is a method section.
- Part 5 – The Programmer describes the fundamental patterns and functions of a reporting system including select, sort, summarize, and format; then addresses performance, including single-pass architecture, parallelism, code generation, and process piping. It covers customization, common key data buffering of data, and information generation. This is a deep technology pattern section.
- Part 6 – The Platform describes a working system for one of the world’s largest financial institutions. It includes an accounting rules engine; an arrangement or instrument ledger, with balance-based and allocation-type processes; general ledger processes and extract processes feeding a reporting application. It also describes ancillary and supporting functions, including reference data maintenance, platform adjustment and process monitoring, error handling, time zone and scalability factors. This is an application description section.
- Part 7 – The Plan closes this book with a few words about where all this might be headed. This is a prediction about the future of systems section.
Fascinating! If you’re a grizzled practitioner, get ready to have your brain rewired as you learn how to use information systems in a way that unlocks their true potential. If you’re a new student, get ready to learn what it takes to apply theory in the pragmatic contexts of business, technical, and physical reality. And no matter how you come at this book, get ready to leave it with a sense of opportunity and purpose that could well redefine what you do next! – Dan Aminoff