... such as flights, visas, vaccinations are easy to deal with. I was on auto-pilot doing these bits.
What was not so easy was the professional prepping. As a highly organised individual, a well trained auditor and project manager, prepping for an assignment is second nature to me. But how on earth do you prep for something like this: people whom you have not met before, a fairly tight timetable, a time difference of 6 hours (behind GMT), a different culture, an NGO who has grown very rapidly and without the luxury of infrastructure... and not to mention my fairly rusty French!
However, against these potential challenges, I have a fair amount of experience, I am motivated, culturally aware, conscientious and a lateral thinker...so, I guess, I am in as good a position as I can be to deal with whatever this assignment may bring.
I bought Larousse dictionary for my iPad, a dictionary of accounting terms, did some research of available accounting packages both conventional on-premise as well as cloud based packages... but all this is nothing more than tinkering round the edges. The most critical success factor is actually knowing in advance who does what, when and the external reporting requirements so that an adequate plan can be drawn up to enable me to hit the ground running.
Once again, I am lucky. There is an ex AfID volunteer who is now working full time in Haiti. Neil put me in touch with Bryan. And bless him, Bryan agreed to spend a weekend at the school and gather some data for me. With Bryan's input I was able to formulate a plan, but even so, a reality check will be applied to this plan once I get there and had a quick appraisal of the situation.
Here are the gems that have been ingathered:
- Cloud based accounting package, despite its obvious advantages is not a viable option as internet connectivity is not sufficiently reliable;
- Electricity supply is patchy, therefore it is advisable to keep devices charged up when there is electricity available;
- there is no joined up financial information and there seems to be no clear allocation of financial responsibilities.