Don’t use Word for calculations – using the right tools to solve the right problems

The challenges of scale


In a recent conversation, someone told me about frustrations they had keeping their invoicing system in sync with their line of business application. The business in question is a rental agency of sorts and their core line of business system, a property management system, manages rentals. Every month, the accounting team was spending up to 5 days just to make sure the systems were in sync and the invoices were accurate.

As the business grew, so did the size of the problem. Over time, manually keeping the systems in sync became unworkable. The business leadership decided to address the issue. It was recognised that working from a single data set that everyone used would make processing much easier and more reliable.

In pursuit of this aim, the team decided to migrate all rental processing from the property management system to the accounting package. Commercially speaking, invoicing and revenue recognition were the driver of the business and so using this system at the heart of operations seemed to be a good compromise.

At first glance, it makes sense. One way to keep all the data consistent is to use a single system. In practice, well, there’s a reason you don’t do complex calculations on a table in Microsoft Word. It’s just the wrong tool for the job.

Using the right tools for the job

All the gains made by having a single data set were lost by the fact that the accounting package didn’t have the features to operate the business. Whenever customers looked for something even slightly different to the standard, the finance package just wasn’t flexible enough to support it. Ultimately, any time gained from using a single data set was lost in massaging the finance system to meet operational business requirements.

Typically the best systems for specialised jobs are specialised systems. It just makes sense to run a rental agency on a dedicated property management system. An alternate approach to addressing the underlying problem would, of course, be to sync the data between the systems.

Syncing data can, and often should, be invisible to the users. Users should continue to use the systems they know and trust – the systems that are best for the job at hand. Behind the scenes, a service such as Seamless data sync, can ensure that data within those systems are kept in sync.

Any decent handyman will tell you that you shouldn’t use a screwdriver to bash in a nail.


Seamless is a data syncing tool that makes it easy to keep different systems in sync. The line of business system and the finance systems could be “loosely connected” using Seamless such that the core client list would be replicated in both systems and updated in either system when the other updates.

From an operations perspective, the rentals system could be used to manage lettings and generate invoices as appropriate. These invoices could then be passed by Seamless to the finance system which can, and should, manage sending invoices to customers and controlling the subsequent payments cycle.

Simply put, Seamless would enable different functions within the business to use best tools for their respective work. With an underlying data set kept in sync by Seamless, there is no danger of creating “information silos” or introducing rework and manual data entry. Data syncing becomes the glue that holds it all together.

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