The month-end closing process is a very important practice for the accounting department at professional services firms. Part of the close process is to ensure that one can document and justify the balances on the financial reports. This involves either keeping spreadsheets and/or printing multiple reports and ‘ticking and tying’ the balances. These processes take time and increase the chance of errors.
To assist accounting departments at professional services firms with verifying commonly used balances, Deltek has created some useful tools. There are two such tools in Vantagepoint that accountants can use to monitor activity and know when to raise the red flag to address accounting problems. So, what do these tools look like and how do they benefit accounting?
Financial Analysis Report
The financial analysis report (Analysis/GL Reconciliation/File Reconciliation Report) provides a big picture of the general from the standpoint of the firm’s income statement and balance sheet vs. the supporting sub-ledger reports. Deltek Vantagepoint has implicit entries that happen automatically in transactions based on configurations as well as explicit entries which occur by user entry in the transactions.
For example, when entering an AP voucher, the user selects the expense account (explicit entry) for the voucher but does not select the Accounts Payable account (implicit entry) – the Accounts Payable account is captured in the AP Liability code (which is set Settings/Cash Management/Accounts Payable/Liability Accounts).
The areas covered in the Financial Analysis are:
- Accounts Receivable Accounts (Set in Settings/Billing/Accounts Receivable) = Open Accounts Receivable (My Stuff/Reporting/AR Aged)
- Accounts Payable Accounts (Set in Settings/Cash Management/Accounts Payable/Liability Accounts) = Open Vendor Balances (My Stuff/Reporting/Voucher Ledger)
- Unbilled Revenue Accounts (Set in Settings/Accounting/Revenue) = Office Earnings Report or Project Earnings Report (My Stuff/Reporting/Office Earnings or Project Earnings)
- YTD Revenue Accounts (Set in Accounts/Chart of Accounts/Type) = Office Earnings Report (My Stuff/Reporting/Office Earnings)
- YTD Reimbursable/Direct Expense one report that can be used is the Project Detail to total direct and reimbursable expenses.
- YTD Indirect Expenses one report that can be used is the Project Detail to total indirect and expenses.
The reports listed above can be run to verify the balances on the sub-ledger, and the Financial Analysis Report will provide a professional services firm with a quick snapshot to know if there is a problem immediately. It is recommended to review this report as part of month-end processing, although it can be reviewed at any time during the month.
Upon viewing this report for the first time, looking for the differences in AR, AP, revenue, and unbilled of when the out of balance initially began is the first step. There are several reasons an out of balance can occur - for example, making a journal entry directly to a GL account that is linked to an AP Liability Code. Once red-flagged by this report, working with a knowledgeable system consultant to determine which entries caused the out of balances and learning how to correct them is advisable.
Another critical month-end activity is reconciling the bank account. However, with phishing and echeck technology, it is recommended that bank reconciliations be performed at the very least weekly, if not daily. Vantagepoint allows a professional services firm to create ‘Bank Codes’ for every bank account used by the firm. Each ‘Bank Code’ is linked to a single general ledger account number to track and report transactions for the bank code.
The bank reconciliation process allows for the user to ‘clear’ transactions as they ‘clear’ in the bank. The transactions that show in the bank reconciliation are only those that are entered via a cash transaction type (Cash Receipt, AP Disbursement, Cash Disbursement, AP Vouchers, AP Payment Processing or Expense Payment Processing). The reviewer will know if the transaction type is a ‘cash’ transaction type as they will be asked for a ‘bank code.’
Any transaction entered against a General Ledger account that is linked to a Bank Account code that is not a cash transaction, for example, a journal entry, will not be available in the Bank Reconciliation feature and could cause a difference from the reconciled bank balance to the general ledger account balance if not added to the misc. tab of the bank rec.
When working through the bank reconciliation process each accounting period it is recommended to compare the “reconciled GL balance” on the printout of the bank reconciliation to the balance sheet GL account that is tied to the bank code. The calculations on the bank reconciliation report are:
If the reconciled GL balance does NOT tie to the trial balance, research is needed to find the entries that caused the out-of-balance and correct them. Here is another red flag that can help accounting address problems.
An out-of-balance between the reconciled GL and balance sheet can happen and can still show that the bank reconciliation ties to what was deposited and paid from the bank. This is because the reconciled GL is a calculated balance of cash transaction types and not a balance from all transactions being entered against the GL account. Internal processes should be set up so that all cash-related transactions are entered via a cash transaction type.
Close Efficiently and Effectively
Accounting departments at professional services firms need to have efficiency in their month-end closings. Justifying balances on financial documents is a crucial component of closing out the month. With both the Financial Analysis Report and Bank Reconciliation tools offered in Deltek Vantagepoint, accountants can quickly identify red flags in their accounting processes allowing for expedient and effective resolution of accounting problems.