EuroIS/PraxIS Sep. 2001

Managing reality in Information Systems - strategies for success

Systems Modelling Ltd.


Welcome - Eurois at YahooGroups

Euro features

We test euro converters for the GSA
The secrets of euro testing to be revealed
Test, test, then test again...
Euro banknote and coin features revealed
Euro price creep
Rounding down ... unfortunately
Unaware retailers
Price transparency?
Good ideas
Hope for Visa card users hit with surcharges
FEE Questionnaire ... please contribute

Tech stuff

Techrepublic, Silicon, BusinessFinance sources

Spreadsheet best practices

On the lighter side

24 Web links in this newsletter

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Patrick O'Beirne, Editor

Euro Features

Are you sure your software applications can support all the requirements for the business changeover to the euro? Get an independent assessment on their "compliance" or "euro-readiness" with our euro software certification service. [1]

We test euro converters for the GSA

The Irish Government Supplies Agency  issued a public tender  for about 1.5 million converters which the Euro Changeover Board of Ireland plans to distribute free, one per household, in November. In August, we tested for the GSA a euro converter that we were unable to fail right up to its display limit. That's good news for  Irish households, who will have an accurate converter. If you are involved in plans to buy large numbers of converters for distribution to customers, business association members, or the public, it might spare some blushes to get us to check them out [22] for accuracy!

The secrets of euro testing to be revealed

At the end of the year, I shall be disclosing how I derive my magic testing numbers exclusively to delegates at EuroStar - European Software Testing Analysis & Review [23] 9th International Conference in Stockholm, Sweden, Nov 19 - 23. Pitfalls in Euro Testing A software tester needs to be like a sculptor or diamond cutter looking for the flaw line where a small tap cracks the whole thing open. This presentation describes some real-life flaws found in products when tested for 'euro compliance'. For example,  we have come across software and hardware  products that inaccurately converted small amounts, for example under 100 euro. 

Test, test, then test again...

AMUE euro files update : Title: Euro Store Test - Findings [2] (McDonald's Europe, PowerPoint Document, June 2001) One lesson among many in this useful presentation: "We identified 2 critical bugs in our POS (despite months of detailed testing in our laboratory)" This reinforces the point we constantly make - rehearse, practice the new euro world.

Euro banknote and coin features revealed

There was a webcast of the press conference to unveil the euro banknotes 3 p.m. (C.E.T.) on 30 August 2001. It will be accessible for a week via the "News and events" [2] section of the Euro 2002 Information Campaign website. Yahoo provide a slideshow [3] of photographs of the event from Reuters.

The key words from the ECB are "Feel,Look,Tilt" [4] which will also help the visually impaired. The following is an extract from the ECB web page on recognising the euro. "The security features help you to recognise a genuine banknote at a glance. Feel the 'raised' print - the special printing processes give banknotes their unique feel. Look at the banknote and hold it up to the light: the watermark, the security thread and the see-through register will then be visible. All three features can be seen from the front and the reverse side of genuine banknotes. Tilt the banknote: on the front of the banknote, you can see the shifting image on the hologram foil stripe (on the low-value banknotes) or the hologram foil patch (on the high-value banknotes). Tilt the banknote: on the reverse side, if you tilt the banknote, you can see the brilliance of the iridescent stripe (on the low-value banknotes) or the colour-shifting ink (on the high-value banknotes). The EUR1 and EUR2 coins are produced using sophisticated bi-metal technology, which makes them difficult to counterfeit. You will find lettering around the edge of the EUR2 coin."

The Irish Independent finance editor Brendan Keenan commented that "The presentation of euro bank notes and coins may have been the precursor for the actual issuing of the currency next January - a bit of a shambles, but it was all right in the end [5]. On January 1, 300m people will be trying to familiarise themselves with £550m worth of new cash they have never handled before. The logistics are terrifying, but Mr Duisenberg was very clear about the ultimate purpose of the new currency. The Euro 'is much more than just a currency,' Mr Duisenberg said. It was a symbol of European integration in every sense and 'a symbol of stability and unity in the political integration of Europe.'"

Euro price creep

I have been commenting on this for some time, and now the evidence is beginning to appear in the media. And as for the hardware distributor who sent me a price list in a spreadsheet where the euro prices were calculated from the Irish pounds divided by 0.78 rather than 0.787564 ... I would not have thought they were that desperate for an extra 1% margin!

David Murphy, Deputy Business Editor of the Irish Independent reported "One doctor's surgery recently increased its consultation fee from £29 (Euro 36.82) to £31.50 (Euro 40). Retailers across Europe have begun to increase prices in an attempt to beat strict government controls [6] surrounding the introduction of the euro next year. Que Choisir, the French consumer magazine, said that it had evidence of price hikes for goods and services ranging from bread to newspaper subscriptions and credit card rates."

The FT reports that News of price rises planned for January in Finland [7] by the Justice Ministry and the Social Security Institute has led the Bank of Finland to warn that the government risks provoking a popular backlash against the new currency. Erik Mickwitz, Finnish consumer ombudsman, said: "If public authorities set a bad example, then private enterprises will follow suit. This seems to justify increasing prices when the euro is introduced." On the other hand, the Dutch national forum for the introduction of the euro - grouping government, employers and unions forced the Justice Ministry to retreat from a planned rounding up of court and police fines by up to 10 per cent. Nicole Fontaine, president of the European Parliament, awarded - to a local insurer that had rounded down all its premiums - the Consumentenbond's first monthly "euro plume" for a business carrying out the change to the benefit of customers.

Dutch retailers that use the impending switch to euro notes and coins as a cover for putting up prices face a public pillorying on the website of the Consumentenbond [11], Europe's largest national consumer association. The Dutch language site lists what it calls EuroMissers - organisations reported by its 640,000 members for a variety of faults, such as providing inadequate information to consumers, or rounding up prices.

German shops and other businesses which use the changeover to the euro to mask price increases are to have their names published on the internet [8]. Barbel Hohn, consumer protection minister in the country's most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, has decided to act after a recent survey of more than 1,000 goods found that in 86 per cent of cases where the main advertised price for items had been changed from marks to euros there had been price increases averaging 4.4 per cent.

A similar story was reported in France [9]. "We're rounding off high," a manager with the home furnishings chain Habitat told the newspaper Liberation. The National Federation of Bakers and Confectioners that they would raise the price of bread by 10 to 15 per cent to cover the cost of going over to the euro. The government's Federation of Commerce and Distribution in May forced mass-marketing producers and distributors to sign a binding commitment not to change their prices between November 1, 2001, and March 31, 2002. Michel-Edouard Leclerc, co-president of the Leclerc shopping chain, said many of his suppliers began raising their prices shortly after the agreement was signed.

Rounding down ... unfortunately

Should you win a million in the Irish version of the TV quiz "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" next January you'll get 1million euro rather than pounds, saving the programme makers 21%. The biggest prize-giver of all, the National Lottery, have said they hope to announce their euro solution "by the end of the year".

Unaware retailers

ISME recently undertook a survey of retail outlets [12] (Business & Finance magazine, Ireland)  to see how prepared they were for the introduction of the euro. Of total 200 retailers surveyed 50pc of respondents said that they were not aware that they would have to have multiples of their usual cash float over the Christmas and New Year period.

Price transparency?

One of the touted benefits of the euro was "price transparency". However, read this from the Dell web site Are Dell prices the same in Euros across Europe?  [10] "Net list prices of a given configured system may also vary slightly between countries due to differences in the following:
Local costs of service and technical support
Cost of country - specific components such as keyboards and software
Overheads related to maintaining a local subsidiary
Publication cycles, particularly as decreasing component costs are passed directly on to the customer"

Good ideas

Chambers of Commerce Europe [13] GoEuro best practices have a downloadable PDF of ideas such as Euro Shop, Eurofacilitators, on line Diagnostic Euro Breakfasts Play with Euro

Hope for Visa card users hit with surcharges

It always struck me as inconsistent that people complain about a small error in euro conversion or getting change, but if a retailer adds on a credit card "handling charge" of 1%, 3%, or even more, they pay up without batting an eyelid. Some good news may be on the way there. The European Commission, in its first competition decision in this field, cleared a scheme by Visa International which bars retailers from adding a fee for transactions. [14] Under Visa's so-called "no discrimination" rule, retailers signing up to the scheme cannot impose surcharges for card payments nor offer customers discounts for payments in cash. I wonder how many will sign up?

FEE Questionnaire ... please contribute

Changing to the euro - informing your stakeholders. 

We are not well through the transitional period and already many companies have made considerable progress with preparing their customers, their suppliers and their staff about the changes that will occur because of the introduction of the euro. However some companies feel that it is still too early to do so but have plans in place and there are others who have not yet included this activity in their euro changeover process.

The purpose of the questionnaire [24] is to try to make some assessment of the extent to which companies have made decisions about informing their various stakeholders and where they have not yet done so the reasons for this. The findings will be used to try to influence the information campaigns of the European Commission and national governments so that in this last phase of the transitional period a more targeted approach can be adopted. Please would you complete the questionnaire for your company on the web ( )or return it by email (euro(at)ipf(dot)co(dot)uk ) or fax to 00 44 (0)20 8681 8058, if possible by 7 September 2001. If you have any queries about the questionnaire or would like to speak to me about it do ring me on 00 44 (0) 20 8667 1144.

Noel Hepworth FEE Euro Project Director August 2001


Tech Stuff

I'm getting regular tips from Some of the articles are fairly generic, teasers intended to promote the consultants involved but others have useful content. Here is a samples. Follow the site links for downloads, technical papers, and more. Identifying the 10 most common application-level hacker attacks [15]

More tips are at 5 essential views on IT project management [16] : Why do it projects fail? [17]

Business finance magazine has features useful to CFOs and CIOs. For example: A Clear View of Accounting Software [18] Business Finance surveyed readers to find out their accounting software priorities, spending patterns, level of satisfaction with vendors and future implementation plans.

Project Management Proverbs

If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything. 

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck. 

Spreadsheet Best practices

PriceWaterhouseCoopers offer a publication for free download: Spreadsheet Modelling Best Practice methodology [19]

The lighter side

Can't get enough of Big Brother? Now you've got Pig Brother! Exeter farmer Andrew Freemantle is to broadcast the antics of his pigs in a live, round-the-clock webcast. [20] commented "Unlike the Big Brother housemates, who get their 15 weeks or so of fame before being consigned to the c-list celebrity scrapheap, the pigs have a worse fate in store: the short sharp chop treatment at the local abattoir."

Would you believe it?

Industry Standard reported [21] that Deutsche Telekom (DT) has sent a cease-and-desist letter to an online book publisher ordering it to stop using the color magenta in its ads. DT, whose corporate logo relies heavily on magenta, said that use of the color infringes its trademark and raises the risk of customers mistaking for the giant German telco.


[1] Euro compliance software certification service

[2] webcast of the press conference to unveil the euro banknotes

[3]◊tampl=999188977 Yahoo slideshow

[4] Recognising the euro Banknotes

[5] The Irish Independent report on the unveiling.

[6] Beware the big euro rip-off as retailers jump the gun (Irish Independent)

[7] State price rises spark Finnish euro dispute (FT)

[8] Internet 'shame' for euro price profiteers (Telegraph)

[9] French firms hike prices as euro draws nearer

[10] Are Dell prices the same in Euros across Europe? 

[11] Dutch consumer's group

[12] ISME survey of retail outlets (B&F mag, Ireland)

[13]  Chambers of Commerce Europe GoEuro best practices

[14] EU bans surcharge on Visa users.

[15] Identifying the 10 most common application-level hacker attacks

[16] 5 essential views on IT project management

[17] Why do it projects fail?

[18] A Clear View of Accounting Software

[19] PWC Business Dynamics methodologies and publications

[20] Pig Brother

[21],1902,28301,00.html Magenta letter day for Deutsche Telekom

[22] Open letter urging independent testing on converters

[23] EuroStar - European Software Testing Analysis & Review 9th International Conference Stockholm, Sweden, Nov 19 - 23

[24] FEE Questionnaire: Changing to the euro - informing your stakeholders

Visit  these pages Euro & EMU index page Managing the Euro in Information Systems: Strategies for Success, Addison Wesley 1999, ISBN 0-201-60482-5. The accompanying CD has software, fonts, web links, and europapers. The book is aimed at IT managers and business executives. It covers history, regulations, business strategy, I.T. strategy, project planning, conversion methods, and case studies. 11 chapters, appendices, 368 pages.

Patrick O'Beirne

Copyright 2001 Systems Modelling Limited, . Reproduction allowed provided the report is copied in its entirety and with this copyright notice.


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Patrick O'Beirne, Editor


"Praxis" means model or example, from the Greek verb "to do". The name is chosen to reflect our focus on practical solutions to IS problems, avoiding hype. If you like acronyms, think of it as "Patrick's reports and analysis across Information Systems".

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This newsletter is prepared in good faith and the information has been taken from observation and other sources believed to be reliable. Systems Modelling Ltd. (SML) does not represent expressly or by implication the accuracy, truthfulness or reliability of any information provided. It is a condition of use that users accept that SML has no liability for any errors, inaccuracies or omissions. The information is not intended to constitute legal or professional advice. You should consult a professional at Systems Modelling Ltd. directly for advice that is specifically tailored to your particular circumstances.

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