Accountants get even more organized

If you’re having difficulty organizing all that content on your Web page, there may be a bird out there that can help – a Hummingbird that is. The Certified General Accountants (CGA Ontario) did exactly that when it implemented Hummingbird Ltd.’s Fulcrum Knowledge Server to help index information on its site.

The software has been in existence since 1997, and is primarily used to index information.

“The Fulcrum Knowledge Server allows you to index documents and can support 200 file formats and you can take collections of documents and have them indexed,” said Larry Roy, the senior product manager for the Ottawa based company. Roy said the server allows users, through different networks of access, the ability to search, view and summarize information. In the CGA’s case, aside from indexing the data, “when you get a hit of results you can have a brief summary of that document show up in your search result also.”

Roy said there are two other features that are vital in the Server. The first is a highlighting feature. For example, if a person were searching for certain accounting procedures in a 50-page document, it jumps through and highlights the key word. The second is relevancy ranking, whereby if a term is used 20 times in a given document versus another document that only uses the term several times, it will proceed to go to where the term appears more often.

The CGA implemented the software in September 2000. The Web site itself was running in 1996, and looks to provide information for members, non-members and student.

Members would use the site to find all pertinent information regarding updates and services, said Boyd Dyer, the manager of Web technologies for the CGA in Toronto. Students would visit the site for changes that were taking place in the course curriculum. The public can search on how to become a member. Membership for the year, Dyer said, is approximately $600.

As for the system itself, Dyer said it was very functional. “It highlights anything on our Web pages in red and if the particular item you’re looking for shows up on a Web page or in a PDF file, it highlights that particular word within the document.” He said the main reason the association contacted and chose Hummingbird was the need to organize the content more effectively. A typical search on the site would include course and technical updates, he added.

Currently, the site offers between 800 to 1000 pages of content. However, Dyer said the CGA is moving toward an online learning environment. Beginning in the fall, CGA Ontario will offer introductory courses in statistics and financial accounting. “When we’re finished with this endeavour, it will be closer to 15,000 pages, if not more.” By the fall of 2002, the total number of course offered will jump to 18.

Members of the CGA have generally seemed pleased with the site, and the information that it offers.

Avi Wollner said the site provides “information on events, things that are being organized by the Association, references to various bulletins and publications that they issue.” The public practice accountant from Thornhill, Ont., said the site also provides members to access to the Chapter Network, which is primarily responsible for organizing events from the different Chapters.

As a member, Wollner said he needs to constantly upgrade his education, as do all members of the CGA. “As a member of the Association, we [are involved in] the continuing education system where I need to get points to maintain my qualifications.”