Four Eyes

Four Eyes?

No, no... not what the schoolyard bullies use to say about your glasses (they were just jealous of your awesomeness).  Have you considered using the four-eyes principle for ensuring greater accountability and transparency in your operations?  Let's take a look...

Operational Transparency
  1. Mistakes are very easy to make, even for detail oriented employees
  2. Take advantage of the benefits of having someone check your work
  3. Reduce costly mistakes and oversights

The Full Scoop

We had been discussing the benefits of working in pairs, which translates far beyond group project work or software development; and wanted to review the many benefits one can find to joint reviews outside of IT Service Delivery and Technology.  We are so busy and many of us are experiencing information overload; it is very easy to miss errors during data processing and the execution of financial transactions.

Recently we were going through a process to review our vendor accounts.  As an IT Support and Services provider, there are many client accounts that we must keep updated.  We needed to update billing information and wanted to make sure bank and credit card information on file was correct.  It can be so easy to make a mistake, particularly when you are going through many accounts in a short amount of time.   Our team was finding that when just one person performed account reviews, mistakes would more easily creep in; but, when someone came in behind them with a secondary review; mistakes and errors dropped dramatically.  Having an extra set of eyes on the problem, really helped us find errors and make the necessary corrections.

Banks often apply this principle to the steps required while making transnational decisions.   An extra set of eyes on a request, reduces not only fraud but helps avoid the potential for costly mistakes.  Many regulations require financial organizations to employ the four eyes principle.

Wire fraud is a fast growing trend within criminal organizations, it is a cyber and computer security threat that often relies on social engineering (when one uses deception to manipulate another person) to push past weak accounting controls.   We have worked with clients who have benefited greatly by implementing "four eyes" principles, requiring two individuals to be involved in approvals for wire transfers.  By simply involving another person, whether that be the business owner or a senior manager, in requests for wire transfer account changes, and requests; many a wire fraud attempt has been foiled.  Be wary of urgent requests by vendors to change bank account information, or out of the ordinary requests from a business owner to wire money to an account.

Whether you are reviewing accounts, working in accounting, performing wire transfers, or developing software; find ways to have a secondary set of eyes review your work.   There are countless benefits to making the assumption, that you may have made or could be about to make a mistake; letting others review your work can be of great benefit.

That being said, budgets are limited and it can be expensive to implement these controls.  If a second set of eyes on an effort is cost prohibitive, find ways to step away from a problem for a few minutes; and to then review it again yourself.  You will find that checking a list twice, after having taken a break, often can achieve the same result.