EuroIS/PraxIS Oct. 2001

Managing reality in Information Systems - strategies for success

Systems Modelling Ltd.


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Euro features

Dutch Cash Study Updated
Euro price creep foiled
Rounding down, uncharitably ...
Thomas Cook takes EC to court over euro symbol
European Commission pages
"Euro Change" series on RTE radio 1
One in five small businesses will not be ready for the euro
No room for complacency about large companies' euro preparations
The perils of euro software testing
The euro book

Tech stuff

The Nimda worm

On the lighter side

20 Web links in this newsletter

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It is natural to fear that the tragedy of September 11 and its incalculable consequences may render our normal preoccupations irrelevant. Nonetheless, life must go on and the countdown to the euro seems to accelerate as we get closer, only 87 days to go as I write. If you have any comments on the topics in this newsletter, I'd be happy to hear from you.

Because I am sending this out as plain text, I have given the web links in the text, after each article. You will also find them all in a convenient launchpad list on 

Patrick O'Beirne, Editor


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]

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.


You will remember the stir caused by the Dutch Railways study we first reported in February 2001. For a summary, see Gerard Westerhof has been the project manager for the introduction of the euro/ the cash change-over of NS Travellers (NST), the production company of the Dutch Railways, since 1997. The study was wider than just NST, but included a "Preliminary study of the effects of cash payments per 1-1-2002 on the sales process of cash handling businesses in the Netherlands and in the EMU-zone". His report urged more frontloading and warned that in the absence of an apt and correct response, political bodies will be held responsible by the public for "the chaotic and economically extremely harmful way in which the cash change-over will undoubtedly take place."

He has now issued a new and updated report "Launching the cash changeover!" for the Raad Nederlandse Detailhandel, the Dutch Retailers Association. It is a study of the capacity of the ATMs in the city of Lelystad on New Year's Day, 1-1-2002 and of the probable effectiveness of their use by the public in the first week of January 2002.

In summary, cash take up is projected to amount to less than 10% of the public per day, so that the minimum target (derived from previous studies) of 50% will not be achieved by the Saturday of that week. His conclusion is for "significant economic damage" and his main recommendation is "Allow the public in the EMU zone to get their euro-notes by distributing the notes to them during the last week of 2001" The report details the variables, assumptions, and eight simulations with cash take-up graphs. A copy is available by sending an e-mail to info(at)raadndh(dot)nl

He notes "I have not read of any studies on queue formations at the banks' cash desks in the weeks around January 1st." Indeed, banks in Ireland are withdrawing such services and "encouraging" (translation: "forcing") customers to use ATMs. It's strange that only the Dutch simulation studies are being reported. Such a massive undertaking cannot be attempted with the view that "it'll be alright on the night". Certainly national administrations and the banks have the staff to undertake such Operations Research/Management Science (OR/MS) work. I have applied such techniques for almost thirty years, and at the moment am using simulation to analyse hundreds of thousands of records of till receipts from POS systems to evaluate cash requirements for retail stores. For that reason, I was interested in Gerard Westerhof's addendum "Summary of study of effects on a supermarket".

Euro price creep foiled

The Irish Independent severely criticised the food company Glanbia for its mishandling of a price increase simultaneous with the changeover to the euro. "Increasing the price of a pint of milk will confirm many people's worst fears about next January's changeover to the euro. This is most unfair on the euro." Their notice to retailers had indicated that they would be reducing the pint (568ml) size to 500ml, a 13% drop, "in preparation for the euro". Whether it was intentional obfuscation, or bad timing, it was a PR disaster, and Glanbia withdrew their notice.

Rounding down, uncharitably ...

Charities fear euro change may reduce donations (Irish Times)

Because the Irish Pound (IEP) is the only denomination heavier than the euro, a 1 euro coin is worth only 79p. Therefore charities that depend upon pound coin donations are facing a 21% loss in revenue. For pure cash donations, like church collection plates, they can always appeal for 2 euro coins, or "silent collections". But those who "sell" little tokens like ribbons will have an awkward pricing problem. 

Would you believe it? 

Thomas Cook takes EC to court over euro symbol

Business Plus magazine reported that travel business Thomas Cook is seeking £26m in damages because it claims the euro symbol is so like one of its registered trade marks that it is an infringement.

European Commission pages

Just as reminder to those that sometimes ask what official information is available, the public web site is:

The euro - the EU in your hand: Euro essentials


"Euro Change" series on RTE radio 1

Ronan Tynan & Anne Daly of Esperanza productions have made a six-part radio documentary series. From the local, national and international perspective, this series shows how a very wide range of people and institutions are getting ready, and how others are blissfully ignoring an event that like it or not, is going to have a profound impact on our lives. The September 15 programme entitled the "revenge of Y2K" cautioned against the "it will be alright on the night" approach. The series can be heard in streamed audio.


One in five small businesses will not be ready for the euro on 1 January 2002

Enterprise Directorate-General is regularly monitoring the state of preparedness of European small and medium-sized enterprises through surveys conducted among business managers in the 12 euro countries. These euro zone-wide surveys give the opportunity to observe trends and compare the results by country, company size and business sector. The July/August 2001 survey found that many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will have their systems converted for the euro only after the changeover: 15% will still be unable to deal with invoicing in euros, and 23% with other operations, the poll found. (EUBusiness) Full report: FLASH Eurobarometer "SMEs and the euro" July-August 2001 Results (PDF)

No room for complacency about large companies' euro preparations

Euro-impact reported that many companies, even larger ones, are still failing to appreciate the need to prepare their market, their staff and their pensioners for the euro a new survey by the European Accountants' Federation (FEE) suggests. Even though the survey results are likely to be biased towards euro-aware companies because respondents either receive this newsletter or are registered on the FEE website, they are still behind in some key issues.

FEE euro project director, Noel Hepworth, comments that governments and businesses appear to be acting at cross-purposes. "There appears to be some reliance by companies on governments to prepare both the market generally and the general public for the change and yet governments are themselves relying on businesses to carry a large share of the burden of responsibility for preparation." He fears this is creating a potential vacuum "with the former relying on the latter when the latter is relying on the former".


Accounting System Changeover

I recently completed a survey of accounting software in Ireland for Forfás, the state agency tasked with the EMU Business Awareness Campaign. It looks as though only Quickbooks from Intuit is left as the laggard not yet providing a base conversion facility. The report should be published soon on 

I would like to pass on this useful checklist with thanks to Teresa Maguire of Take Five, Hugh Cosgrove of Exact software, Richard Kerr of Sage, Charles Alken of Quantum Accounting, and Alan O'Connor of Exchequer Software.

Have a sign off list of who checked and on what date.
Allocate outstanding transactions.
Run your VAT Return.
Run your Period End reports.
Check your data.
Back up your data.

Install and run the Euro Base Currency Converter.

Compare reports before and after conversion on sampled accounts, allow +/- 1 euro (or 10c or whatever) deviation.

Basis for sampling accounts:
a) The most important / troublesome customer accounts
b) Accounts with the highest volume of transactions
c) Accounts that had no balance outstanding beforehand but may now show a balance from rounding differences
d) At least ten chosen at random

Trial Balance - must balance. If not, user cannot correct that unless they have a "back door" into the database, which is a security risk.

Debtors aged report - must agree within decided tolerance

Debtors Account summary - see sample list above

Debtors outstanding invoices - must agree within decided tolerance

Creditors aged report

Creditors Account summary

Creditors outstanding invoices

Creditors outstanding Purchase Orders - As for customers above

Check that non-EMU customers & suppliers are not affected in the original currency, and base currency equivalent has been correctly restated in euro.

Profit & Loss report

Recurring postings

Fixed Asset Register

Rounding account journal - if the software converter provides a means of sorting the results to show the largest conversion rounding differences, check those

Price list - for review by marketing people for profitability and impact on price points

Payroll - Employee Master File and Tax Tables


The perils of euro software testing

I'll be speaking at EuroStar in November, the European Software Testing Analysis & Review 9th International Conference Stockholm, Sweden, Nov 19 - 23. 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. Good testers are 'nit-picking' and 'pedantic' people who are sceptical and love to break things. This presentation describes some real-life flaws found in accounting packages when tested for 'euro compliance'.

The euro book

"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.


The Nimda worm

The main issue in September was the release of the Nimda ("admin" backwards) worm. SirCam is still the most common email virus, but Nimda hits website maintainers and users who leave security holes open. Gartner caused a stir by recommending that companies do not use Microsoft IIS web server because it is such a target. For the same reason, I use Eudora rather than Outlook and so have escaped the virus that is trigged by merely previewing the email. In Internet Explorer 5, I always have ActiveX controls marked as "prompt" so I know if a site is trying to run one. I always answer "no" when prompted, which means I cannot see some sites which rely exclusively on Shockwave animations. In that case, I drop them a polite email suggesting that if they want safe surfers to view their site, they should follow good practice and provide a safe alternative entry point. It's not that hard for a developer to detect if a browser has these features disabled, and provide a text link.

The symptom is an email with an apparently nonsensical subject or body, which is created from text extracted from the sender's file system; and an attachment "README.EXE". Naturally, you don't execute attachments without first scanning them for viruses and you do, of course, update your antivirus software at least weekly? To learn more about Nimda, see anti-virus sites such as Datafellows and Sophos, and Microsoft's service pack 2 patch.

Fred Langa told me of the Microsoft Personal Security Advisor (MPSA), an easy to use web application that will help you secure your Windows NT(tm) 4.0 or Windows 2000(tm) personal computer system. It provides a detailed report of your computer's security settings and recommendations for improvement.



What is not on paper has not been said.

There are no good project managers - only lucky ones.



Yahoo! Internet Life - Forward / Joke of the day Responses to telemarketers


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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