While sitting at my computer recently, waiting for some information to load on the screen, I began to reflect back on how things have changed in the OACS finance department over the past 20 years.
I started working for the OACS in 1995, after spending eleven years working for a trucking company. When I first began in the finance department, twenty years ago, the OACS was located above the administrative offices at Redeemer University College. For my first month of employment, my desk was tucked into a corner of a large working area which also held our lunch table, reception area, three other desks and a table for the dot matrix printer. The printer had a special sound dampening cover because of the noise that it made when printing invoices and receipts.
[caption id=”attachment_13208” align=”aligncenter” width=”2564”] OACS Staff ~1995 at Redeemer University College location[/caption]
After my first month there, we moved to a building on Garner Road East where I had an “office” with a divider separating me from the reception desk and one other office in the main workspace area. The printers used for the year-end files were placed in a closet due to the amount of noise they made. The “network” was a bunch of wires run through the walls and connected to the printers, and the computers did not speak to each other.
The financial services at the OACS also went through a number of changes over the years. At the beginning we had a few schools that sent in their cheque stubs and we would do the entry for all of their transactions because they didn’t have a computer at the school to compile all of the information. We would send the schools the final paperwork so they would have a computerized version of their financial statements rather than a handwritten copy.
The T3010 calculations were all done by hand at first as well. This required accurate skills using the adding machine because the bottom line had to be reconciled to the financial statements. If they didn’t reconcile, every single line needed to be recalculated to find the error. The amounts were entered on the T3010 by hand. Then we got a typewriter that we used to fill in the form, which required a good eye when scrolling up to the next line to ensure the numbers were typed on the lines rather than above or through the lines.
Next, we began using spreadsheets, for which the trial balances still needed to be entered by hand but which made the calculations much faster. Eventually I set up a spreadsheet which aligned the T3010 line items (with the calculations done by the computer) with the blanks on the T3010 so they could be fed through the printer and completed “electronically.” There was a good amount of trial and error to make sure the numbers went into the right spaces.
Schools participating in the financial services program would send us large packages full of paper printouts and perhaps a 5 ¼ floppy disk (which could hold a whopping 160 Kb each, or 360 Kb with the double sided floppies). When we moved to 3.5 inch floppy disks, they could hold 360 to 720 Kb of information, but since you still needed multiple disks to store everything that needed to be submitted to the OACS, schools still sent in a lot of paper. The advent of USB drives and the ability to send information over the internet in the past few years has made it much faster AND cheaper for schools to submit their information to us.
Those days seem so long ago when we look at the current way that finances are done at the OACS. Now everything is done electronically—from exporting the information from the school’s accounting software to the OACS accounting software, to the documents produced for the schools. Everything looks much neater and much more professional.
I am currently looking at my two large computer monitors, enjoying the sun streaming into my large office window at our current building on Shaver Road—a far cry from the cramped corner I started in. I love my job, the people I work with and the work that I do in correspondence with school personnel. As I’ve reflected, I’ve recognized the vast amount of changes that have occurred over twenty years at the OACS, and I can’t help but wonder at the changes that are possible in the coming twenty years.