Quarterly Update – 1996 Qtr 1&2

Todd Herman

Anyone who has used Lotus Notes can easily attest to its power, flexibility, and ease of use. Explaining what Notes is – that's hard, because Notes is truly a unique application.

From a technical standpoint, Lotus Notes is:

  • A client/server platform...
  • For developing and deploying groupware and workflow applications...
  • Allowing people to access, track, share, and organize information...
  • Via a network, a dial-in connection, or an individual computer.

From a functional standpoint, Lotus Notes supports these key elements, of "groupware":

  • Communication – Distributing information throughout an organization.
  • Collaboration – Sharing information and building shared understanding.
  • Coordination – Assisting individuals and groups in tasks involving it mixture of delegation, sign-off, and routing.

Both descriptions are accurate, yet neither captures the spirit of Notes. The definitions describe features of the product – not the benefits of its use. Notes is a product that is appreciated only when it is used in business processes. These processes can range from simple to complex, and the features of Notes required typically increase with the complexity of the process. For example, in my firm we communicate, collaborate and coordinate using Lotus Notes in the following ways:

  • Electronic Mail – This straightforward communication process relies on the standard Notes Mail capabilities.
  • Business Ideas – This collaboration process allows firm members to submit anecdotes, experiences, quotes, and reading excerpts to build a knowledge base for our practice. I developed the database for this process in about four hours.
  • To Do List – This coordination process allows firm members to make and track project assignments to other firm members. After an assignment is made, the application notifies the person – via Notes Mail – of the new task. If a task is not completed by the specified date, the application mails reminder notices – to both the persons making and receiving the assignment – until the task is completed. Once a task is completed, the application notifies the task's assignor that the task is completed. I developed the database and processing code for this application in about a week.

Notes is an integral part of my business, since it allows firm members to participate in our business processes, regardless of their work location – in the office, at a client location, or on business travel. The power and flexibility of Notes has allotted me to tailor it to the way we choose to do business, rather than conforming my business to someone else's idea of how a professional services firm should operate. Thus, the best explanation is that:

Lotus Notes is a foundation for building business processes.


Todd L. Herman

Todd L. Herman

Client Project Update:

I am pleased to provide you with an update on our client projects. Projects we have completed over this period are...

Determined the Procedures Needed for a Systems Development Project

Determined the accounting procedures and entries needed to accurately account for the inventories of a sock manufacturer, helping prepare for a systems development project.

Designed an AS/400 Application

Designed an AS/400 application to accept inventory transactions and standard costs from other system and prepare accounting entries, improving inventory accounting timeliness and accuracy.

Analyzed Transactions and Designed Necessary Accounting Procedures

Analyzed the transactions and designed necessary accounting procedures and entries for a glove and knit products designer and marketer, permitting better evaluation of inventory position and sourcing effectiveness.

Revised the Budgeting Approach

Revised the budgeting approach, and developed new budgeting, tools and associated reference and training materials for an insurance company, allowing consistent preparation of project-based departmental budgets.

Analyzed an Accounts Payable Process

Analyzed the accounts payable processes of a health care insurer, proposing changes and an implementation plan to improve control and efficiency of invoice processing.

Reviewed Service Quality of Management

Reviewed the expected and perceived service quality of the management reporting function of a health care insurer, identifying several significant gaps and recommending ways to reduce these gaps.

Analyzed the Volume of Travel and Entertainment Reports

Analyzed the volume and dollar concentration of travel and entertainment reports of an apparel manufacturer, proposing processing scopes that would significantly reduce the accounts payable workload.

Evaluated Systems Strategy and Function of Public Accounting Firms

Evaluated the systems strategy and function of an association of public accounting firms, recommending: ways to improve systems development effectiveness and to enhance connectivity options for member firms.

Developed a Lotus Notes Reference Guide

Developed a Lotus Notes reference guide for an industrial coatings manufacturer, allowing the company to electronically distribute finishing instructions, troubleshooting, and other information to their distributors.

Future projects we are planning include...

Accounting Procedures Implementation

Implement new accounting procedures for a glove and knit products company, improving accuracy of inventory recording.

Monitor & Analyze Actual Versus Budgeted Fees & Income

Work with the partners of a law firm to monitor and analyze actual versus budgeted fees and income, allowing the firm to maintain strong profitability.

Accounting Transactions

Document all major accounting transactions and determine major unmet information needs, producing a requirements document to request and evaluate proposals for a new financial and accounting system.