For the last two seasons, Going Concern March Madness pitted accounting firms against each other to decide just which firm was the coolest in this fair land. Sadly, we have decided to end this exercise. It was a good (?) run but has been exhausted for reasons that include: 1) a Rothstein Kass three-peat was not something anyone was prepared to endure and 2) the underlying premise of the bracket was based in fantasy or, dare I say, complete bullshit. Does this mean that Vault's annual prestige ranking has lost all purpose? That's not for me to say.
NEVERTHELESS. It is March. March means you must spend several minutes, perhaps hours, and even days consulting brackets. And here at Going Concern, that means the end of one average-to-below-average pointless accounting-related bracket giving way to a newer, average-to-slightly-above-average pointless accounting-related bracket.
This year we wanted to offer you a battle royale that gets right to the soul of the accounting community. The thing that has consumed your lives the past two months. The thing that may be consuming your life right this very second — busy season.
How each of you survives this stressful time of year requires an intricate strategy that requires a combination of sustenance and productivity tools and very little sleep. Therefore, we have pitted Food & Beverage against Technology in the ultimate battle of your busy season survival.
You'll want to track this carefully, so download this PDF, fill in your selections, tape them to your wall, loudly criticize your colleagues' selections, and then get to voting.
Speaking of voting, we're getting right to it. We'll start with the top half of the bracket today getting to the bottom half tomorrow. Polls for today's match-ups will close on Saturday and tomorrow's on Sunday. Then we'll pick up the second round early next week. Ready? Let's do this.
Looking at the favorites and their overmatched underdog opponents is always a good way to kick things off.
Food & Beverage
In the food & beverage region, we have coffee as the number one seed versus number sixteen, a random pack of saltine crackers. Coffee needs no introduction. We all know coffee. We all love coffee (except for those few rabid anti-coffee LUNATICS). Most of us would step over our own mothers just to reach a cup of that sweet black nectar because it is the only thing that will get you going on the fourth Saturday you’ve worked IN A ROW. The smart money is on coffee in this tournament. Coffee’s opponent is a random pack of saltines you find on some random desk at the office. You haven’t had soup recently. No one you know has had soup recently. Yet, inexplicably, there are two saltine crackers, wrapped in cellophane just sitting on a desk all alone. You’re dying of hunger and/or so depressed that you want to feed some emotional void that none of your co-workers or loved ones can fill. Saltines don’t do much, but hey, they’re something. And sometimes something is all you need.
In the technology region, we have the perennial powerhouse, Excel meeting the constant but perpetually ridiculed copy machine. They are both busy season stalwarts, but while Excel has risen to prominence and dominance as the go-to tool during busy season over the last three decades, the copy machine has only slipped further and further towards irrelevance. Copy machine is lucky to be even in this thing. But that’s why we play the game.
Head to the next page for the #8 vs. #9 pairings.
The #8 vs. #9 match-up is always a tough call, but in the back of your mind you don’t really care because you think #1 is going to crush the unlucky bastard who manages to get out of the first round. Let’s see who the future losers are.
Food & Beverage
There comes the point in every busy season where a key superior (usually a partner) will make a gesture to lift the team’s spirits. Because partners aren’t too creative they usually go with one of two options to boost morale — having the team eat together or having the team binge drink together.
If the boss treats the team to lunch, there is the possibility that alcohol may get in the mix, but this event is really about the meal. Load up the appetizers! Order a steak! You bet your widening ass we're getting dessert! You’ve earned it! Just know that you’re going to get that technical memo finished tonight whether you’re in a food coma or not!
If the boss treats the team to a happy hour, this may be the chance to cut loose OR (s)he is simply testing the team. Are you there crushing red wine and throwing back cheap tequila shots because you can’t stand another minute of this god-awful engagement or is this an opportunity for you to get some real face time with the boss? Either way, you may get those whispers of gratitude that get you to buck up for another day. Just be sure to make it to work the next day.
Of all the things that suffer during busy season, it’s your TV and movie watching schedule. Wait, they killed who on Downton Abbey? Damn you, Facebook! UNFRIEND EVERYONE.
Thanks to the miracle of digital video recorders and Netflix, you can stay up to date on your favorite TV programs or movies that everyone who doesn’t have a soul/time-sucking job is talking about. But which one comes through for you? Are you determined to find out what Netflix's House of Cards is all about or do you need the brain-crushing addiction of the newest reality TV show and thus are a slave to DVR? Sure, you have to forego sleep to keep up but that episode of Chopped had deep-fried fire ants in the dessert round. AMAZING!
Next we have the first chance for a real upset in the #5 vs. #12 match-ups.
Food & Beverage
If by some small miracle you happen to have a spare 15 minutes to run to the store for a quick snack, what will best prevent you from a flipping out on co-workers when your blood sugar gets low? A drawer filled with fun-sized Snickers, Skittles, and the occasional box of Lemonheads? Or one of those beautiful plants that keep the physicians at bay?
If there’s one thing you have to love about the modern busy season, it’s that there is no shortage of technological advancements that cover your ass. But is your atrocious spelling the biggest thing putting your busy season performance review at risk or is it your tendency to put too many sensitive clients details and/or incriminating information into documentation? Doesn’t matter! Both spell check and paper shredders are here to save you from yourselves. When in doubt — run a spell check! And if you’re still not sure, put it in the destroy bin!
Finally, we have the #4 and #13 seeds.
Food & Beverage
Sometimes, you need food fast. You don’t want to do it…oh, who are we kidding — of course you want to do it! In the food & bevvie #4/#13 match-up we have the people's favorite, Chipotle versus the legend, McDonald’s. Sure, you might like the thoughtful and environmentally friendly approach of the bean-slingers at Chipotle, but can you beat the addictive value of Mickey D’s? You're in. You're out. You're back and stinking up the whole goddamn office in no time.
Navigating your computer efficiently is the key to any productive busy season. You have multiple applications open; you have to skip this awful song that CAME OUT OF NOWHERE. WTF Pandora?; Outlook or Lotus Notes needs re-started again, and your browser has 10 tabs open, none of which can be closed because, YES, you need all of them open. How do you manage it all? Well, if you can’t stand watching other people drag that arrow from one corner of the screen to another, this means you’ve learned the never-ending fun of key shortcuts — oh sure, you might Crtl+C, Crtl+V with the best of them, but can you shuffle through all your open applications, the tabs through in your browser and modify that row of cells without touching your mouse? Or not? I’m not judging you if you like using the mouse. I’m not, really. If you don't like the implication that the mouse is dumb, then just throw it at me. That's all it's good for anyway. Just vote whichever you prefer and we won’t bring it up again.