Archive for the ‘Business Systems’ Category

women-haiti-phoneRing, ring, ring – and the thread of your discussion goes ping!  We’re discussing a complex accounting issue with my Haitian colleagues, in three languages (English, French, Creole).  Then … a shrill jingle… the phone is picked up.  And poof! The thread of thought is broken.  On another day I was in a personal 1-to-1 conversation with a Haitian friend … a shrill jingle… the phone is picked up.  And poof! A sheepish smile “sorry, I won’t be a moment.”

If I’m honest – after many visits to Haiti, I still get annoyed.  For a people who value personal relations so highly, I wondered why is an incoming call given such priority over face to face conversation.


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Haitian graveyard

I was so pleased with the hospital budget planning, and outcome.  A sudden patient death was a shock. Cause of death – our budget?

This more complicated than you might think. The patient had all their care to date at Hospital Convention Baptiste d’Haiti (HCBH) in Cap-Haïtien in north Haiti. That day the patient suddenly arrived with a haemorrhage.  The doctor prepared for surgery.  Unfortunately when they were to announce start, there was an emergency elsewhere. Another patient was now in surgery and was being anesthetized.  The hospital had one anaesthetist.  So it called upon a sessional anaesthetist as backup.  But they were not available.  HCBH called the government hospital in town, but they could not help.  Then called the Roman Catholic hospital that was not too distant.  They could help.  The patient was rushed off in the ambulance, but it was too late.  They died.


Gained in translation

Posted: 1 April 2017 in Business Systems, Haiti
In Translation.JPG

What on earth has Bill written here?

Lost in translation.  So much is.  The geographic and cultural distance is just so so great.  From my English-English into their schooled Haitian-French to mother tongue Creole thinking.

  • From their cash bookkeeping that is authorisation and fraud-control focussed
  • into my patterns of management accounting and forecasts. (Quite frankly my financial projections based on their figures must seem to them as just so much fiction. Leaps of Bill’s imagination.)


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Yet an earlier HBOS scandal

Last week Judge Martin Beddoe jails HBOS banker who “sold his soul for bling and swag”.  The noise and clamour over Trump, Brexit, etc, cannot quite distract from the low hanging stink over business practices.  BHS, Sports Direct, even Volkswagen.  As an accountant and an HR professional, I am well aware of audit and legal compliance.

“Why does all this still happen so much?” “Why are there so so few convictions?” “Where are the whistle blowers?”

Last Week

Creative budgeting 1Have you played Budget-Tango?  Between a charity that supports other institutions, say a hospital, school, homeless project, there is a dance.  Where the donor and done strut around eachother. It is Budget-Tango.

Your charity or grant making body seeks to support an independent organisation or project, in UK or elsewhere, with some funding and some management and budget advice.  Their show – but your help too.

Opening Moves of the Dance
It starts when they send you a copy of their budget.  Very nice to get one at all.  Do not be surprised at the number of front line services that do not have them.  The Chief Medical Officer/ Principle Housing Director/ Emergencies Director did not enter their vocation to sit in the office playing with spreadsheets and accounting jargon.  But you’ve got one – hurrah!


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Smiles, even in tough places

What constitutes crazy?  Where I work, our projects are currently all in Haiti.  But we are exploring options for South Sudan. In Haiti, UN Peacekeepers still patrol.  In South Sudan, as I write – in places civil war rages.  And it’s not as if we have lots of cash looking for good projects.  Counter intuitive as it is, this is the right direction of travel.

Sometimes the same vision just needs bigger glasses.  Working to meet the need, helps you see the need properly.  So, Haiti Hospital Appeal left me and the people I work with.  And instead … Hope Health Action has come and wrapped itself around us.

The original vision: faith based medical care, offered to all (regardless of faith, race, etc); serving the poor, especially for disabled; national led, aiming to be financially self supporting.  Is this for only one place?

Hospital Convention Baptiste d’Haiti is underway travelling in this direction.  Why not try this in another country that is also a “who-cares!” place?  Like South Sudan.

So as of June 2016 HHA changes from Haiti Hospital Appeal to Hope Health Action.  The CEO has already been to South Sudan, and met with Government officials in Juba, and church representatives.  And the funding? Work that is:

  • Small schemes,
  • Unhurried, for the long haul
  • Based on sound relations between local, national and international people (not “partners”)
  • In sensible locations even within unsettled countries

These will interest new funders

I have worked in the past with several organisations with grand plans and “visions” which involve far less headline risk than this.  However, sometimes the seemingly barmy option – is the sensible strategic direction.

See also



QB Testing (1)

Will it connect?

It’s like spinning plates, in those old style circus shows. Here in the Hospital in Haiti, I am trying to get working one laptop as a file server, two desktops and two laptops as clients. Oooo – that’s five isn’t

it.  Something has gone wrong already? Or is that the laptop without a power adaptor.  You get the fourth plate up and spinning, and lo –one has fallen and crashed and another is badly wobbling