Tutorial 10 - Take a moment and think about your needs

You have now completed the first nine tutorials that were restricted to the basics of using Global Templates and Procedures, plus two simple Report examples. Starting with Tutorial 11, you will learn the tools that will enable you to create accounting components. Off necessity, all of our tutorials have to be kept relatively simple. The worst that you can do is to attribute any assumed limitations to STEP FORWARD - there may be some, depending upon your specific needs, but as one corporate Controller once said upon receiving a demo STEP FORWARD even in the early stages of its development: "the only limitation that I see is the limitation of my own imagination."

So before proceeding with the hands-on tutorial, take a moment and think about your own possible needs or those of your clients, if your interest in STEP FORWARD is as a consultant. Then keep those needs in the back of your mind as you step through the various tutorials and ask yourself "how does this fit into my own needs." Of course, you may prefer to skip this Tutorial and just continue with the various exercises; however, sooner or later you must take time to assess your needs.

After all, you can't create anything meaningful unless you know and have a detailed understanding of the needs of your organization. Most people think they do; however, when you are given the opportunity to start with a clean slate, with virtually no restrictions, it is tougher than you think. Too much freedom* can be a frightening experience.

* As developers of STEP FORWARD, we are not so presumptuous as to believe that our tools will prove adequate in each and every situation, or that these tools can't be improved upon. We adhere, therefore, to a policy of close co-operation with Configurators and invite feedback, of any kind.

There are several important segments of information that need to be defined.
You can't get the right answers unless you ask the right questions. So here are some hints (the ··· indicate the summary statement of what needs to be done).

What kind of organization is yours?
e.g. for profit vs. not for profit; single company vs. multi-company; etc.

··· Prepare an organizational chart to start the picture.

How should the management information be segmented?
e.g. divisions, departments, cost centers, profit centers, or whatever;
administrative services: centralized or distributed; etc.

··· Flesh out your organizational chart to complete the picture.

Define what you/management want to get out of your information management system.
This is one of the most critical areas of concern. This can best be determined if you take a top down approach:
what information/reports does management need/want and in order to provide it, where does that data come from e.g. some may be comparative industry data that is not obtained as part of the normal accounting process. This should include not only financial statements but such items as Overdue Notices to customers, Accounts Payable remittances, etc.;
what information must we provide to regulatory or government agencies e.g. specific statistical information may be required and which might not be available unless a conscious effort is made to capture relevant data;
this will give you the idea, expand on this to suit your own situation.

The reason for asking you to carry out this research early on in this process is that what you define here may be needed background information later on as you define your account chart, transaction and general data.

Your account chart should be well thought through.
You may wish to retain your old chart of accounts; however, before you do, think through the alternatives and weigh all the pros and cons.

··· Prepare a complete list of all accounts which are used throughout the organization (this will form the basis of the "inventory of accounts" which you will use during the set-up - regardless of what numbering scheme you select).

Every General Ledger Account Can Be A Subledger Control Account.
e.g. Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, Inventory, Prepaid Expenses, Accrued Expenses, Advertising, Employee Benefits, etc.

··· Review the need for subsidiary ledgers and what account number formats are needed (each subledger template can have a subledger account number format of its own).

A Variety Of Zero Balancing Options Are Possible.
Apart from the normal zero balancing of debit and credits on a document or batch basis, STEP FORWARD offers automatic balancing, through transaction generation, for cross-border traffic between fiscal periods, fiscal years, and even legal or functional entities.

··· Review which zero balancing options should be permitted and include the necessary balancing accounts in the account chart.

Pyramidical Data Structure.
The subsidiary ledger data structure of any GL control account can be a single data base table containing all applicable data. Or a more complex structure can be developed through the use of Global Tables.

··· Create a diagram to help you visualize the structure of the Subsidiary Master Data that is most suitable to your operation.

What Transaction Data Should Be Captured?
By now you should know what is required throughout your organization. Now define what data needs to be captured and from where:
Source Documents
Since accounting data usually comes from definitive documents, we can define three distinct features for every Source Document (except a journal entry):
i. the Prime Account Number
e.g. a bank check (cheque) is always recorded against a specific GL account; and,
ii. its default sign
e.g. a bank check (cheque) is always a credit (-); and,
iii. the data fields associated with that document
e.g. description, date, due date, amount, reference number, etc.
this will help you map out the Common and Extra fields for transaction data entry.

··· Define all source documents, for the entire organization. You may want to consider multiple instances of the same Source Document, if the Prime Account Number differs e.g. by Department, Division, etc. Remember, you can't get it out unless you first put it in. Therefore, review your output needs with your input specifications and make sure that you have all angles covered.

Special GL Accounts
Certain accounts require specific data to be captured, regardless of which source document the information is derived from. Furthermore, some of this extra data is usually associated only with a specific account (or group of accounts) and not with a specific source document. e.g. a units or quantity field may be required for Inventory; a "government registration number" field may be required for Charitable Donations.

··· Define all extra fields which should be displayed during data entry under account-specific conditions.

Global Data Structure
In addition to possibly providing linked or local data to Subledgers and Transactions, Global database tables can be configured to hold information of any kind and any purpose.

··· Define all the information capture requirements that are not accounting transactions and map out the specifics as to data type, purpose, inter-action with other data, reporting, etc.

How Should Information Be Captured?
Recording data is the process of entering data manually through the keyboard or automatically e.g. generated transactions using a Process or while performing Check Writing.

··· Review your list of source documents and determine what data recording methods you wish to employ for each specific source document.

As data is being entered, it can be held in memory, saved in the applicable database table and, in the case of accounting transactions, posted to the summary table (on specific instruction or in real-time).

··· Review your list of source documents and determine which handling method you wish to employ for each specific source document.

Go To
  Tutorial 11 - Subledgers