How Using IOT Technology Can Enhance the Supply Chain

Editorial Comment: One year ago, Professor Faith Lamprey composed an essay for our blog entitled “How EDI Helped Santa Deliver Presents This Christmas.” With this essay, she continues her exploration of emerging technologies with a discussion of Advanced Vehicle Technology and the Internet of Things (IOT).

Obtaining an understanding of IOT, and being able to differentiate between how sensory devices are used in consumer and industrial applications, are considered essential skills for students and business professionals.

The Transportation Industry is undergoing changes due to Advanced Vehicle Technology.  This involves using “connected trucks” that are equipped with IOT “smart” devices. These devices contain sensors that use wireless technology to talk to each other. The IOT devices on the trucks are monitoring things like temperature, location and speed and can produce data that can be used to drive predictive analytics for companies.  The data from these IOT devices gives companies the ability to make significant improvements in their supply chain. The supply chain encompasses all of the processes involved in product manufacture from raw materials through production and distribution of the finished product, until it reaches the consumer. These IOT devices can provide data to both the receiving and shipping processes.

One area where these IOT devices can be used to provide essential information is to monitor the storage temperature of food while it is being transported to provide clear cold chain tracking and accountability.  This can give proof of clear custody and control of the product if questions surround the quality of it.  Much of this data is now being required in the food industry so having a carrier being able to electronically transmit it to the receiver of the goods as the delivery is made would add to the completeness and accuracy of the data required for food transportation.

The IOT devices can also provide data to know where a delivery is at any point in time so companies can schedule staff to receive and distribute the delivery when it arrives.  This can provide better visibility of the status of goods ordered and gives companies real time visibility to when the goods will arrive.

This does not have to apply just to trucks.  All forms of transportation (planes, trains, ships) can use IOT technology to communicate shipment data.  With the frequency of extreme weather patterns across the country, real-time updating of expected delivery information would be very beneficial to keep the supply chain functioning more effectively.

Integrating the data “connected” carriers can provide into the supply chain enhances the entire process and provides for more efficiency and greater visibility for both the senders and receivers of goods.  There are currently electronic documents that senders transmit to receivers with details of what is being delivered and how it is packaged.  Being able to add a “when” dimension to that document is a logical next step given the technology available today. Our challenge as accountants is to ensure the data coming from these IOT devices is accurate and complete and provides an audit trail back to the source transactions. Accountants need to be part of the team that designs how and where this data is captured and integrated into the data base.

Professor Faith Lamprey

Also Starring On YouTube …

Last week, The Accounting Friars published a post entitled Now Starring On YouTube. It featured Professor Michael Grande’s series of videos on the fundamentals of managerial accounting.

But what if you’ve watched them all, and you’d like to view more accounting videos? What if you simply cannot get enough of The Accounting Friars on YouTube?

Have no fear! MBA capstone course professor Michael Kraten has converted his slide presentation entitled Sustainability Risk and Enterprise Risk Management: Impact on Valuation Estimates, Decision Analysis into a series of eleven brief videos. The clips are available on a YouTube Playlist on his personal YouTube site.

Each video explains a slide from Michael’s original presentation. And each clip is presented in a nano learning format, as defined by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, at a length ranging from one minute to eleven minutes.

The video series walks the viewer through a valuation process regarding an off-shore energy project. At first, the project is assessed at a Net Present Value of $100 million, and is tentatively approved for capital funding. But a supplemental risk management assessment reduces the Net Present Value to negative $41 million, apparently dooming the project.

But is it truly doomed? Michael then evaluates a series of crisis response and internal control options, rejecting some but accepting others. In the end, he makes a final recommendation about the worthiness of the project.

If you are curious about his recommendation, you are certainly welcome to view the videos to learn the denouement of his tale. And while you watch the content, you might notice the difference in styles between Michael Kraten’s YouTube videos and those of Michael Grande.

They both cover their intellectual content in a comprehensive manner, but they choose very different formats in which to present their analyses. Indeed, the diversity of their approaches reflects the intellectual diversity of the faculty of our Department of Accountancy.

Michael Kraten, PhD, CPA

Now Starring On YouTube …

Perhaps you have an opportunity to make an investment in an organization or a program. You’d like to estimate the Return On Investment (ROI) that you can expect to receive from your contribution. How do you actually estimate it?

Or perhaps you need to take a hard look at the way that you’re producing a product or delivering a service. You’d like to understand the costs of each activity, so that you can find ways to operate in a more profitable manner. How do you go about preparing that Activity Based Costing (ABC) analysis?

If you still have your managerial accounting textbook tucked away on a shelf, you could crack it open and refresh your memory. And if you still have your class notebook, it would be even more helpful. But even if you possess these resources, you’ll probably realize that “nothing beats a good teacher with a simple whiteboard.”

If you find yourself in this situation, you’re in luck! Managerial Accounting professor Michael Grande, CPA, MST has created a series of YouTube videos that are designed to walk his audience through the fundamentals of the discipline. A whiteboard, an occasional paper, and Michael himself are the only elements in a modest and uncluttered setting.

Variance analysis? Michael covers it. Net Present Value? It’s there too. Job Order Costing? He explains it with ease, along with a variety of other topics.

So whether you need to prepare one of these analyses, or whether you simply enjoy reliving your school days, please feel free to click over to Michael’s YouTube channel. There’s no need to worry about any need to study; you will not be tested on the content!

Michael Grande, CPA, MST

Experiential Learning In Action

The “firsts” just keep coming for The Accounting Friars! In our July 21st posting entitled Teaching Has Taught Me, we published our first-ever “personal reflection essay.” Professor Faith Lamprey, in writing about her teaching experiences, described an experiential activity by a team of students from an Accounting Information Systems (AIS) class.

Her essay inspired Professor Sonia Gantman, the instructor of that AIS class, to respond with her own personal reflection essay. We’re delighted to publish it below, as our “first ever” interactive social media discussion.

The reflection essay of Professor Lamprey describes how a team of Accounting Information Systems class students helped her to gain a new insight into processes in her own company. This is a great opportunity to see experiential learning in action.

The AIS experiential learning project is challenging for students. It forces them to do many things that they did not do before – reach out to companies, interview people, convert their notes into business documentation. For many of them it is also the first team project where they have to distribute tasks and manage interdependencies. The challenges of the project offer students incredible opportunities for learning and growth, and for those who are eager to learn and aren’t afraid of hard work, it enables them to use these opportunities to expand their business acumen and acquire skills that are essential for their future careers.

Experiential learning projects are also challenging for instructors! Every project is unique, each teams works on a different process in a different organization. I meet with every team several times during the semester, read and comment on the drafts of their documents and reports, help them brainstorm and get to “aha” moments. Working with teams throughout a semester allows me to witness the learning process as it happens and brings me tremendous fulfillment. The students’ experiential learning in my AIS class is a great opportunity for me to grow as a teacher and as a mentor, and working with new processes and organizations every semester is a great way to stay current with trends in the industry.

Teaching Has Taught Me

Here is another “first” for The Accounting Friars! We are pleased to present our first-ever “personal reflection” essay, written by Professor Faith Lamprey.

Teaching college level classes is always challenging and fun.  The students have a great desire to succeed in their field in business, but lack the knowledge of how business works and what they will actually be doing once they join the full time work force.

Mastery of Excel skills is something I always stress in all of my classes.  While I use Excel on a daily basis, teaching it to students forces me to keep up on the current versions of Microsoft and learn more of the techniques that are available.  I now use Pivot Tables, Conditional Formatting, and LOOKUP Tables on a regular basis.

Looking at your business processes from someone else’s eyes is a good practice to find places in which you can improve.  Our Accounts Receivable process got reviewed this spring by a team of students from an Accounting Information Systems class.  What they performed is part of the internal control work that is done prior to a financial systems audit.  It included interviews with me and other of our personnel.

The student team prepared narrative descriptions with flowcharts of the processes we use, documented controls we have in place, and identified missing controls.  They came up with a few suggestions for improvements to allow for greater integration.  In Academia we call this type of project Experiential Learning (students doing projects out in the real world) and it is all the rage on campuses.  It was fun to be on the other side of this and sit in the “real” instead of the “academic” chair.

Another thing that students help me with is to think “outside of the box” in solving problems.  This is something we talk about a lot in our industry.  Inexperience, sometimes seen as a weakness, is in fact, many times an asset as these students are not set in always looking at a problem the same way.

They are not afraid to try new things and many times they come up with a new way to look at a problem that provides for a streamlined solution.  Problem solving skills is one of the best things they will take with them into their careers.

They say to really learn something is to teach it and I have found that to be very true.  It is refreshing to work with these young minds and to be able to help them on their road to success.  The students certainly keep me on my toes and they have made me a better business professional in the process.

This essay first appeared on the web site of Aurora EDI Alliance. We have modified it slightly for editorial fit. 

Welcome, MBA Cohort!

Have you ever read the Mission, Vision, and Core Values of the Providence College School of Business? For good reason, it strongly emphasizes our holistic, integrated, and collaborative approach to learning.

These priorities, of course, raise an important question: how should we structure our graduate program in accounting? Should we continue to immerse our Accountancy students within the framework of a general Masters of Business Administration program? Or, perhaps, should we place them in a separate Masters of Science in Accounting (or Taxation) program instead?

Prior to this year, we chose the first option, and thus achieved our integration objectives. Nevertheless, our very success in designing a unified MBA program made it relatively challenging to introduce our students to advanced accounting-specific applications.

So this year, we are implementing a novel approach. Instead of opting for a unified MBA structure or an MSA / MST structure, we are dividing our incoming MBA students into a quartet of Cohort groups. In addition to a full-time student group, a part-time student group, and a “4+1” undergraduate business degree group, Accountancy students can now choose to cluster in their own collective group.

Of course, because we are maintaining our emphasis on holistic learning, all of our MBA students are continuing to engage in collaborative educational activities with broadly defined objectives. Meanwhile, for activities that are specific to the profession of Accountancy, our Department is now engaging two dozen graduate students as a focused Cohort.

What do our executives and faculty members think of our plans? According to Jacqueline Elcik, the Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs, Assessment & Student Engagement:

“The PC MBA program is very excited about the start of the MBA Accounting Cohort. The MBA Program has been working with all of the academic disciplines in the PCSB to deliver a high-quality program, focused on the specific needs of young 4+1 professionals who are focused on certification and careers in public accounting. We think that the unique combination of MBA courses and accounting electives will help prepare students for the CPA exam and for the future workplace.”

Professor Michael Kraten, who will design and teach the new Accountancy Cohort capstone course in Summer 2018, is likewise enthused about the opportunity to explore advanced Accounting content. “Although we’ve always presented an Accountancy capstone course in our undergraduate program, we’ve never been able to cover the advanced Accounting capstone applications that are ideally addressed in a graduate course. Finally, now we can … and indeed, now we will!”

The ultimate impact of the new Cohort approach will reveal itself over the course of the upcoming year. And during this time, our PCSB will continue its track record of innovation and continuous improvement.

The Real World

Have you ever heard of the phrase “The Ivory Tower”? It’s designed to imply that the college experience is somehow divorced from the real world.

At Providence College, though, nothing could be further from the truth. And for the past month or so, the students and faculty of our Accountancy Department have been fully engaged with the world around us.

In early April, for instance, accounting ethicist John Thornton of California’s Azusa Pacific University traveled across the continent to spend two full days on our campus. He engaged 150 undergraduate and graduate Accounting and Sustainability students to explore questions of ethics and morality from a theological perspective.

That same week, PwC’s United States Assurance Leader Maria Moats traveled up to Providence from the New York metropolitan region to “… introduce herself to PwC new hires and interns, present in managerial accounting classes, and meet with the Center for Career Education and Professional Development.”

Ms. Moats, who has also served as PwC’s Chief Diversity Officer, dedicated much of her visit to discussing concerns regarding diversity and inclusion. She met with our Department Chair Christine Earley “… to converse about programs to address the underrepresentation of first generation college students in accountancy programs.”

Meanwhile, back in the classroom, Professor Sonia Gantman’s students in Accounting Information Systems engaged with Peter Pan Bus Lines, the New England Patriots’ ProShop, and a pair of on-campus programs to “work with real-world organizations and compare what they learned in class with what happens outside of class.”

According to Sonia, “Finding a client organization on their own, interviewing people about their jobs, dealing with logistics contingencies, and handling interdependencies within the team are all invaluable experiences … that help students get a better grasp of the profession and prepare them for the job market.”

And what about our charitable endeavors? On April 22nd, a group of accounting students, faculty, alumni and professionals from PwC braved the cold and rain to volunteer at St. Mary’s Home for Children during our Seventh Annual Day of Service The event was sponsored by the PC Accounting Association and PwC.

Students worked alongside PwC professionals, performing landscaping and yard clean-up of the grounds, trimming trees, assembling bicycles, and even setting up Xbox units. The weather didn’t dampen the spirits of the volunteers, and we accomplished a lot!

Thanks to PwC for providing food, water and hot coffee throughout the day, and thanks to the volunteers for their hard work and dedication to the children and staff at St. Mary’s. We hope to see even more volunteers out there next year!