Awards 2005: accounting technician of the year – Catherine Thompson

One of the biggest challenges for an accounting technician is to ensure
systems are able to cope as their organisation expands.

Catherine Thompson, the winner of this year’s award for AAT Accounting
Technician of the Year has done just that. Over the past year, she has worked to
improve the software system at her company, OTM ­ a firm of management
consultants in the oil and gas industry ­ as it became unable to cope with the
new demands of the business.

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Thompson developed the original management information system, while a
student at technician level. The system was a great success within the company,
allowing budgeting, timesheet monitoring and cost analysis to be undertaken, but
as the business grew it became clear that it was inadequate for the company’s

The system was laborious to update, as it involved multiple interlinked
spreadsheets, and the high demands on memory meant that it often crashed at
critical times. In addition, only one person could use the system at any time.

As a result, Thompson decided to transfer the spreadsheets into a single
Access database. Through collaboration with Robert Wray, a third-year local IT
undergraduate, the corporate internal database (CID) was developed.

CID is used to record every piece of work that OTM bids for, conceives or
receives an enquiry about. This means that one system can be used to manage each
prospect from start to finish. The system can also be used to examine trends and

At the touch of a button, users can analyse the conversion rates of prospects
to jobs, the difference between forecast costs and actual ones, and the
of particular jobs.

This has enabled OTM to make more accurate forecasts and cost analysis, which
has in turn improved the success rate of tender submissions.

The improved project monitoring provided by CID has allowed the company to
perform tasks more rapidly and dispatch invoices more quickly, resulting in
improved cash flow.

Thompson’s work has enabled OTM to be more responsive to the needs of the
company’s clients and deliver results rapidly. Should a customer request it, the
system can provide a complete audit trail of any project.

It can even demonstrate to a client the number of hours worked on any project
for any period by any employee, so it can see where its fees are being spent.

‘She has really thought outside the box, focusing on solutions and developing
a system that now underpins everything that the organisation does,’ said our

OTM now has a cost-effective, reliable and stable personalised information
tool, which works to the benefit of the company and its clients. Over the past
years, OTM has expanded rapidly, and the introduction of CID has had a
considerable part to play in this success.

Thompson has been advising on CID version 2, which is now nearing completion
and promises improved functionality. Wray is currently considering developing a
commercial version for sale on the open market to other firms in the service

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