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One of my favorite rituals of the new year is taking down the old wall calendars, with their scribbles and dog-eared corners, and replacing them with clean calendars for the new year, while I contemplate the challenges of the year ahead. Last year was a difficult one for many of us in information technology on a number of fronts, not the least of which were the tightened budgets and cancelled or deferred projects. I’m cautiously optimistic that 2010 will see the start of return to better days in information technology. Upgrades and improvements can only be postponed for so long before the system is no longer under standard maintenance. I’m looking forward to upgrading one of the systems I support in our ERP landscape, as the updated functionality and reporting should benefit not only our users but also those of us in system administration and support.

I’m also looking forward to the deployment of a module that was purchased and installed several years ago but never deployed due to resource constraints, a situation which may sound familiar to many of my readers. As other initiatives wrapped up, some resources have been freed up for this project, which will result in automating some controls for our Sarbanes-Oxley (SOx) compliance that have been tested by manual sampling for several years. If you have ever been involved in controls testing, you can appreciate the difference between the two. This is not to say that it will be easy for us to get to full automation; the project is still being estimated, but I would expect it to require months of configuration and testing. While the project is underway, quarterly manual sampling testing will need to continue. All the same, it is an exciting prospect to be so close to setting out on the road to deploying a tool which has been sitting on the shelf so long.

It would be nice to be able to say that all of last year’s initiatives were completed successfully, but that is not quite the case for one project. We are still wrestling with poor system performance in one system, despite months of fine-tuning, maintenance changes, and system configuration adjustments, I suspect that some re-architecting and re-development is on the horizon for this year. The silver lining in this effort is that the user interface and new process were well received by our users, and we are hopeful that we can reuse the majority of that front end.

Here’s a virtual toast to the new year and the new initiatives, challenges and opportunities it will bring to each of you, too!

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