Sunday, March 24, 2013

Accounting Software Can Be Sophisticated Or Simple But Rarely Both

Accounting software is a system of recording financial transactions on a computer across a full range of accounting options almost invariably dependent upon the size of business being catered for. Financial software can vary from a several million pound solution for major public companies to simple managed lists of income and expenses.

The requirements from accounts software are diverse with the most complex and comprehensive financial accounting packages incorporating financial reporting information and managed by teams of qualified accountants supported by accounts clerks, bookkeepers and substantial input from automated data sources. At the other end of the scale a self employed sole trader might use accounting software themselves and produce a set of financial accounts for the year in an afternoon.

Different accounting standards are required from the software packages dependent upon the fitness for purpose and client needs. Double entry bookkeeping automated through a database system and probably arranged in financial modules would normally be the choice of the majority of public companies. Single entry bookkeeping would not be an acceptable accounting solution for a limited company due to audit requirements and statutory obligations.

Single entry bookkeeping does however have its place in the market place for the smaller less complex businesses who maintain financial control through a close intimate knowledge of every financial transaction. The main objective of a sole trader is more likely to be the production of the tax accounts and complete the periodic and annual tax return forms.

The most sophisticated level of financial software in the largest companies mirrors the accounting functions in those organisations with various modules for accounts receivable, accounts payable, stock control, general ledger and fixed assets. These accounting modules may also be integrated with other business functions such as production and dispatch functions and also divided into separate modules within the finance function.

In larger companies the sales daybook and data entry of sales turnover would often be the responsibility of one department while the accounts receivable function might be split with a specialist credit control function within that accounting module. A further division may also include sales administration and customer records. Similarly the accounts payable function might be split between the purchasing department, accounts purchase invoice department and a legal function for overdue payments.

Accounting software for smaller companies and organisations is commonly a system of data entry of prime transactions which include sales income, purchase expenses and cash and bank transactions. The entry of these prime documents being to a database which automates the double entry bookkeeping principles and produces both accounts receivable, accounts payable and general ledger databases.

Some accounting knowledge is usually required to operate a database accounting software system and that financial knowledge is usually available within the company as most companies that use database accounting software also employ a bookkeeper or accounts clerks to input data and in slightly larger small companies also qualified accountants to manage the accounting function.

The need for accounting knowledge in a database system is partially to understand the data entry principles and the relevancy of the rules that need to be followed but essentially understanding of accounting principles is required to understand what is happening ton the information after input. And most important, a qualified accountant has the financial knowledge, training and experience to know what the system should be producing and how to query the database to retrieve that information.

In addition to inputting the prime income and expenditure details the most benefit of a database system is the level of control the information it contains can provide the company management and financial directorship. The accounting function also has the security of producing trial balances, periodic profit and loss accounts, balance sheets and other financial and statements for tax and control purposes.

Small business accounting packages requiring little or no accounting knowledge are available.

Small limited companies must obtain accounting software based upon double entry bookkeeping principles as in addition to producing a profit and loss account and a trial balance to demonstrate accuracy and integrity of the financial records plus a balance sheet is required for reporting purposes. Accounting standards require the limited company to have a system of financial control and accounting software is an essential tool in achieving this.

Some accounting knowledge either from the management or outsourcing the bookkeeping services is usually required with even the simplest database accounting solutions even if this requires the understanding of what accounts receivable ledgers, accounts payable ledger and control accounts mean.

There are other possibilities and those businesses with a minimum of accounting knowledge can consider spreadsheet based accounting software. Spreadsheet accounts are less flexible and often do not have the range of options a database system has due to the lack of database queries available. These disadvantages of flexibility being compensated by the fact that all entries are visible, transparent and changes can be made more easily.

Financially at the sole trader and self employed end of the business spectrum then the requirements from accounting software may be completely different. Gone are the sophistication of control accounts, trial balances and many aspects of financial control. The most important aspect of self employed accounting is often to produce a set of accounts for tax purposes.

Self employed small business that do not require a balance sheet can use accounting software based upon single entry bookkeeping rather than double entry and with the reduced requirement for financial control then less financial queries to the system are required. In these respects the simpler an accounting solution the better and in this market an accounting solution written on spreadsheets that can produce the net taxable profit would meet the requirements.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Rectification Of Accounting Errors

Accountants prepare trial balance to check the correctness of accounts. If total of debit balances does not agree with the total of credit balances, it is a clear-cut indication that certain errors have been committed while recording the transactions in the books of original entry or subsidiary books. It is our utmost duty to locate these errors and rectify them, only then we should proceed for preparing final accounts. We also know that all types of errors are not revealed by trial balance as some of the errors do not effect the total of trial balance. So these cannot be located with the help of trial balance. An accountant should invest his energy to locate both types of errors and rectify them before preparing trading, profit and loss account and balance sheet. Because if these are prepared before rectification these will not give us the correct result and profit and loss disclosed by them, shall not be the actual profit or loss.

All errors of accounting procedure can be classified as follows:

1. Errors of Principle

When a transaction is recorded against the fundamental principles of accounting, it is an error of principle. For example, if revenue expenditure is treated as capital expenditure or vice versa.

2. Clerical Errors

These errors can again be sub-divided as follows:

(i) Errors of omission

When a transaction is either wholly or partially not recorded in the books, it is an error of omission. It may be with regard to omission to enter a transaction in the books of original entry or with regard to omission to post a transaction from the books of original entry to the account concerned in the ledger.

(ii) Errors of commission

When an entry is incorrectly recorded either wholly or partially-incorrect posting, calculation, casting or balancing. Some of the errors of commission effect the trial balance whereas others do not. Errors effecting the trial balance can be revealed by preparing a trial balance.

(iii) Compensating errors

Sometimes an error is counter-balanced by another error in such a way that it is not disclosed by the trial balance. Such errors are called compensating errors.

From the point of view of rectification of the errors, these can be divided into two groups :

(a) Errors affecting one account only, and
(b) Errors affecting two or more accounts.

Errors affecting one account

Errors which affect can be :

(a) Casting errors;
(b) error of posting;
(c) carry forward;
(d) balancing; and
(e) omission from trial balance.

Such errors should, first of all, be located and rectified. These are rectified either with the help of journal entry or by giving an explanatory note in the account concerned.


Stages of correction of accounting errors

All types of errors in accounts can be rectified at two stages:

(i) before the preparation of the final accounts; and

(ii) after the preparation of final accounts.

Errors rectified within the accounting period

The proper method of correction of an error is to pass journal entry in such a way that it corrects the mistake that has been committed and also gives effect to the entry that should have been passed. But while errors are being rectified before the preparation of final accounts, in certain cases the correction can't be done with the help of journal entry because the errors have been such. Normally, the procedure of rectification, if being done, before the preparation of final accounts is as follows:

(a) Correction of errors affecting one side of one account Such errors do not let the trial balance agree as they effect only one side of one account so these can't be corrected with the help of journal entry, if correction is required before the preparation of final accounts. So required amount is put on debit or credit side of the concerned account, as the case maybe. For example:

(i) Sales book under cast by Rs. 500 in the month of January. The error is only in sales account, in order to correct the sales account, we should record on the credit side of sales account 'By under casting of. sales book for the month of January Rs. 500".I'Explanation:As sales book was under cast by Rs. 500, it means all accounts other than sales account are correct, only credit balance of sales account is less by Rs. 500. So Rs. 500 have been credited in sales account.

(ii) Discount allowed to Marshall Rs. 50, not posted to discount account. It means that the amount of Rs. 50 which should have been debited in discount account has not been debited, so the debit side of discount account has been reduced by the same amount. We should debit Rs. 50 in discount account now, which was omitted previously and the discount account shall be corrected.
(iil) Goods sold to X wrongly debited in sales account. This error is effecting only sales account as the amount which should have been posted on the credit side has been wrongly placed on debit side of the same account. For rectifying it, we should put double the amount of transaction on the credit side of sales account by writing "By sales to X wrongly debited previously."

(iv) Amount of Rs. 500 paid to Y, not debited to his personal account. This error of effecting the personal account of Y only and its debit side is less by Rs. 500 because of omission to post the amount paid. We shall now write on its debit side. "To cash (omitted to be posted) Rs. 500.

Correction of errors affecting two sides of two or more accounts

As these errors affect two or more accounts, rectification of such errors, if being done before the preparation of final accounts can often be done with the help of a journal entry. While correcting these errors the amount is debited in one account/accounts whereas similar amount is credited to some other account/ accounts.

Correction of errors in next accounting period

As stated earlier, that it is advisable to locate and rectify the errors before preparing the final accounts for the year. But in certain cases when after considerable search, the accountant fails to locate the errors and he is in a hurry to prepare the final accounts, of the business for filing the return for sales tax or income tax purposes, he transfers the amount of difference of trial balance to a newly opened 'Suspense Account'. In the next accounting period, as and when the errors are located these are corrected with reference to suspense account. When all the errors are discovered and rectified the suspense account shall be closed automatically. We should not forget here that only those errors which effect the totals of trial balance can be corrected with the help of suspense account. Those errors which do not effect the trial balance can't be corrected with the help of suspense account. For example, if it is found that debit total of trial balance was less by Rs. 500 for the reason that Wilson's account was not debited with Rs. 500, the following rectifying entry is required to be passed.

Difference in trial balance

Trial balance is affected by only errors which are rectified with the help of the suspense account. Therefore, in order to calculate the difference in suspense account a table will be prepared. If the suspense account is debited in' the rectification entry the amount will be put on the debit side of the table. On the other hand, if the suspense account is credited, the amount will be put on the credit side of the table. In the end, the balance is calculated and is reversed in the suspense account. If the credit side exceeds, the difference would be put on the debit side of the suspense account. Effect of Errors of Final Accounts

1. Errors effecting profit and loss account

It is important to note the effect that an en-or shall have on net profit of the firm. One point to remember here is that only those accounts which are transferred to trading and profit and loss account at the time of preparation of final accounts effect the net profit. It means that only mistakes in nominal accounts and goods account will effect the net profit. Error in the these accounts will either increase or decrease the net profit.

How the errors or their rectification effect the profit-following rules are helpful in understanding it :
(i) If because of an error a nominal account has been given some debit the profit will decrease or losses will increase, and when it is rectified the profits will increase and the losses will decrease. For example, machinery is overhauled for Rs. 10,000 but the amount debited to machinery repairs account -this error will reduce the profit. In rectifying entry the amount shall be transferred to machinery account from machinery repairs account, and it will increase the profits.

(il) If because of an error the amount is omitted from recording on the debit side of a nominal account-it results in increase of profits or decrease in losses. The rectification of this error shall have reverse effect, which means the profit will be reduced and losses will be increased. For example, rent paid to landlord but the amount has been debited to personal account of landlord-it will increase the profit as the expense on rent is reduced. When the error is rectified, we will post the necessary amount in rent account which will increase the expenditure on rent and so profits will be reduced.

(iil) Profit will increase or losses will decrease if a nominal account is wrongly credited. With the rectification of this error, the profits will decrease and losses will increase. For example, investments were sold and the amount was credited to sales account. This error will increase profits (or reduce losses) when the same error is rectified the amount shall be transferred from sales account to investments account due to which sales will be reduced which will result in decrease in profits (or increase in losses).

(iv) Profit will decrease or losses will increase if an account is omitted from posting in the credit side of a nominal or goods account. When the same will be rectified it will increase the profit or reduce the losses. For example, commission received is omitted to be posted to the credit of commission account. This error will decrease profits ( or increase losses) as an income is not credited to profit and loss account. When the error will be rectified, it will have reverse effect on profit and loss as an additional income will be credited to profit and loss account so the profit will increase ( or the losses will decrease). If due to any error the profit or losses are effected, it will have its effect on capital account also because profits are credited and losses are debited in the capital account and so the capital shall also increase or decrease. As capital is shown on the liabilities side of balance sheet so any error in nominal account will effect balance sheet as well. So we can say that an error in nominal account or goods account effects profit and loss account as well as balance sheet.

2. Errors effecting balance sheet only

If an error is committed in a real or personal account, it will effect assets, liabilities, debtors or creditors of the firm and as a result it will have its impact on balance sheet alone. because these items are shown in balance sheet only and balance sheet is prepared after the profit and loss account has been prepared. So if there is any error in cash account, bank account, asset or liability account it will effect only balance sheet.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Branches of Accounting, Uses of Accounting and Limitations of Financial Accounting

Accounting vs. Book-keepingBook-keeping concerns itself with the recording (correctly and in a set of books) of those transactions that result in the transfer of money or money's worth. Whereas accounting is comprehensive in perspective. It extends to classifying, summarizing, presenting and even analyzing accounting information .

Accounting vs. Accountancy

Body of knowledge (consisting of principles, postulates, assumptions, conventions, concepts and rules) governing the science of recording classifying and analyzing financial transactions is accounting. Whereas the practice and art of the science of accounting is termed as accountancy.To meet the ever increasing demands made on accounting by different interested parties (such as owners, management, creditors, taxation authorities etc.) the various branches have come into existence. Financial AccountingThe object of financial accounting is to ascertain the result (profit or loss) of business operations during the particular period and to state the financial position (Balance Sheet) as on a date at the end of the period.

Cost Accounting

The object of cost accounting is to find out the cost of goods produced or services rendered by a business. It also helps the business in controlling the costs by indicating avoidable losses and wastes.Management AccountingThe object of management accounting is to supply relevant information at appropriate time to the management to enable it to take decision and effect control.In this web primer, we are concerned only with financial accounting. The objects of financial accounting as stated above can be achieved only by recording the financial transactions in a systematic manner according to a set of principles. The recorded information has to be classified, analyzed and presented in a manner in which business results and financial position can be ascertained.

Uses of Accounting

Accounting plays important and useful role by developing the information for providing answers to many questions faced by the users of accounting information.

(1) How good or bad is the financial condition of the business?
(2) Has the business activity resulted in a profit or loss?
(3) How well the different departments of the business have performed in the past?
(4) Which activities or products have been profitable?
(5) Out of the existing products which should be discontinued and the production of which commodities should be increased.
(6) Whether to buy a component from the market or to manufacture the same?
(7) Whether the cost of production is reasonable or excessive?
(8) What has been the impact of existing policies on the profitability of the business?
(9) What are the likely results of new policy decisions on future earning capacity of the business?
(10) In the light of past performance of the business how it should plan for future to ensure desired results ?

Above mentioned are few examples of the types of questions faced by the users of accounting information. These can be satisfactorily answered with the help of suitable and necessary information provided by accounting.

Besides, accounting is also useful in the following respects :-

(1) Increased volume of business results in large number of transactions and no businessman can remember everything. Accounting records obviate the necessity of remembering various transactions.

(2) Accounting record, prepared on the basis of uniform practices, will enable a business to compare results of one period with another period.

(3) Taxation authorities (both income tax and sales tax) are likely to believe the facts contained in the set of accounting books if maintained according to generally accepted accounting principles.

(4) Cocooning records, backed up by proper and authenticated vouchers are good evidence in a court of law.

(5) If a business is to be sold as a going concern then the values of different assets as shown by the balance sheet helps in bargaining proper price for the business.

Limitations of Financial Accounting

Advantages of accounting discussed in this section do not suggest that accounting is free from limitations.

Following are the limitations:

Financial accounting permits alternative treatmentsAccounting is based on concepts and it follows " generally accepted principles" but there exist more than one principle for the treatment of any one item. This permits alternative treatments with in the framework of generally accepted principles. For example, the closing stock of a business may be valued by anyone of the following methods: FIFO (First-in- First-out), LIFO (Last-in-First-out), Average Price, Standard Price etc., but the results are not comparable.

Financial accounting does not provide timely information

It is not a limitation when high powered software application like HiTech Financial Accenting are used to keep online and concurrent accounts where the balance sheet is made available almost instantaneously. However, manual accounting does have this shortcoming.

Financial accounting is designed to supply information in the form of statements (Balance Sheet and Profit and Loss Account) for a period normally one year. So the information is, at best, of historical interest and only 'post-mortem' analysis of the past can be conducted. The business requires timely information at frequent intervals to enable the management to plan and take corrective action. For example, if a business has budgeted that during the current year sales should be $ 12,00,000 then it requires information whether the sales in the first month of the year amounted to $ 10,00,000 or less or more?

Traditionally, financial accounting is not supposed to supply information at shorter interval less than one year. With the advent of computerized accounting now a software like HiTech Financial Accounting displays monthly profit and loss account and balance sheet to overcome this limitation. Financial accounting is influenced by personal judgments'Convention of objectivity' is respected in accounting but to record certain events estimates have to be made which requires personal judgment. It is very difficult to expect accuracy in future estimates and objectivity suffers. For example, in order to determine the amount of depreciation to be charged every year for the use of fixed asset it is required estimation and the income disclosed by accounting is not authoritative but 'approximation'.

Financial accounting ignores important non-monetary information

Financial accounting does not consider those transactions of non- monetary in nature. For example, extent of competition faced by the business, technical innovations possessed by the business, loyalty and efficiency of the employees; changes in the value of money etc. are the important matters in which management of the business is highly interested but accounting is not tailored to take note of such matters. Thus any user of financial information is, naturally, deprived of vital information which is of non-monetary character. In modern times a good accounting software with MIS and CRM can be most useful to overcome this limitation partially.

Financial Accounting does not provide detailed analysis

The information supplied by the financial accounting is in reality aggregates of the financial transactions during the course of the year. Of course, it enables to study the overall results of the business the information is required regarding the cost, revenue and profit of each product but financial accounting does not provide such detailed information product- wise. For example, if business has earned a total profit of say, $ 5,00,000 during the accounting year and it sells three products namely petrol. diesel and mobile oil and wants to know profit earned by each product Financial accounting is not likely to help him unless he uses a computerized accounting system capable of handling such complex queries. Many reports in a computer accounting software like HiTech Financial Accounting which are explained with graphs and customized reports as per need of the business overcome this limitation.

Financial Accounting does not disclose the present value of the business

In financial accounting the position of the business as on a particular date is shown by a statement known as 'Balance Sheet'. In Balance Sheet the assets are shown on the basis of "Continuing Entity Concept. Thus it is presumed that business has relatively longer life and will continue to exist indefinitely, hence the asset values are 'going concern values.' The 'realized value' of each asset if sold to-day can't be known by studying the balance sheet.