Thursday, February 11, 2010

Making Community Analytics (CA) the new metrics paradigm

Over the past century GAAP style business accounting has been at the center of the system of scorekeeping used to measure socio-economic progress. If it is not corporate profit, it is the stockmarket prices, and if not that then GDP growth. None of these metrics include anything about the quality of life, about the impact of business performance on the society in which the business lives.

This has been very convenient. Business has been able to report profit while destroying the society where people live ... the stockmarket goes up, and a part of society prospers.

The value destruction that has been going on in many societies over the past 50 years is obscene, but the system of metrics does not include these big issues. Most government units around the world do not even do GAAP style accrual accounting, they simply have cash based accounting. They do not have "balance sheets" and the powerful controls inherent in double entry bookkeeping do not apply to government entities. Many not for profits operate with similar cash based accounting.

If there was some semblance of balance sheet accounting in the public sector it would become apparent how dysfunctional this sector of the economy has become. The same might be said of the not for profit sector.

There needs to be a complete rethink about how the metrics of society are put together. The idea that the GDP, a measure of the "strength" of the US economy is based largely on how much consumers spend is total nonsense. The idea that the cost of healthcare in the US economy is 17% of the total does not mean strength, but silliness in the system of metrics. In my mind the product ... GDP is Gross Domestic Product ... is how much good health is delivered, and the cost is something very different. A strong health performance would be one where the people's health is good and the costs are low.

All of these issues need to be addressed ... and Community Analytics (CA) has been developed as a complete system of metrics for socio-economic progress and performance. In addition to money accounting, CA uses the idea of value. Instead of making the organization for focal point of accounting and reporting, it is the community. Instead of measure how much has been spent or consumed, CA looks at what impact this has had on the quality of life ... or the value of the community.

CA has been designed to have some good aspects of old-fashioned accounting, but also to function in the fast moving modern era. Data acquisition is designed for mobile phone text messages, and automatically organized in a way that reduced data overload and increased the value of the data for decision making, and the accountability of decision makers.

When CA deploys, there will be many that do not like it ... but the job of a good accountant is to provide the data that are needed for good decision making. This is exactly what CA has been designed to do.

The CA methodology has been developed over a very long time ... but other perspectives are of interest. Please contact the CA team if you have ideas for how CA can be improved.