Users should delay full conversion to European Monetary Union (EMU) until 2001-2002 because, despite vendor claims, financial software will not be ready to deal with it when the first wave of countries sign up on 1 January 1999.
But, IT managers should ensure they introduce the triangulation features or multicurrency support that will be offered by most suppliers this year as a first step towards EMU compliance, according to the Business and Accounting Software Developers Association (BASDA).
This means that the 11 participating countries and all the countries trading with them, including the UK and US, will be able to invoice and receive payments from each other without any problem.
Dennis Keeling, managing director of BASDA, said: ?There won?t be any problem with triangulation, but there will be problems with the conversion programs, for example translating French Francs into Euros, because accounting standards are not harmonised across Europe and local legislation has not been finalised. As a result, no-one can say what what will be in the conversion routines and the specification isn?t expected to be ready till next year.?
This means that users would be advised to delay the conversion of their accounts to the Euro base currency until 2001-2001 and the conversion of their payroll until 2002, he explained.
But, they should also select software that is flexible enough to change if EMU fails, particularly as any cracks are likely to show after one to two years rather than straight away.
To try to address this problem, BASDA plans to publish its EMU Specification for Application Software next month, which will provide vendors with guidelines on the requirements for change.
The document costs #25 for members and #50 for non-members, but the spec is unlikely to be frozen until the middle of next year, Keeling acknowledged.
Although it addresses 95 per cent of the EMU issue, he said the remaining five per cent could be problematic as it relates to changes in local legislation. Examples include the French wanting a three centime rule for rounding and the Dutch wanting to routinely calculate in both guilders and Euros.
However, the document will also act as the basis of an EMU software testing and accreditation scheme, which BASDA hopes to introduce during the second half of next year.
The organisation is currently considering applications from third party testing companies to ascertain whether applications meet the minimum legal requirements to become ?compliant? or whether they also conform to a minimum useability standard to become ?advanced?.,p> The aim is to provide users with a clear way of identifying EMU compliant software rather than forcing them to rely on vendors that are already advertising their products as 'EMU-Ready' before specifications are even available.
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