Dec 172009
 

On Wednesday 16th December 2009, the UK Payments Council came to a decision regarding cheque payments, as explained in this press release. It’s important to note that the situation isn’t quite as simple as some places have reported; it’s not just a case of “cheque payments to end by 2018, full stop” – there’s slightly more to it than that; the goal is to phase out cheque payments while encouraging the use of other methods, but there’s a possibility that it might not be feasible to do so, hence the “go/no go” decision scheduled for 2016.

However, that isn’t the topic of this item – just the inspiration; when reading about the decision to try to phase out cheques it set me to thinking about some of the problems I see when companies make payments to suppliers (some of which apply to cheque payments as much as to any other form of payments). The general problem is that of a lack of identification and clarity – while I see many payments clearly identified in terms of who they are from (or for) and what they are paying, I do see some which lack that information and this leads to time wasted establishing that information. The most common problems I see tend to be one of three: Continue reading »

Nov 242009
 

All of the companies I work for on a regular basis use one or another of Sage’s products for accounting purposes, but only one uses Sage Job Costings. As its name suggests, this is a program into which all the company’s costs are input, be that supplier invoices, employee time, etc, and allocated to a particular job, each of which has a unique reference, in order to provide accurate costings on a per job basis. If this program is used fully, it can also be used to generate invoices based on the costings – but (and I imagine this is common) the company doesn’t use it this way. Invoices are actually produced in the normal sales ledger module of Sage Line 50, using reports produced from Sage Job Costings as a basis. This gives them more control over the final invoices.

The downside of this approach is that the Job Costings program itself doesn’t know when a particular job has been invoiced (or, more accurately, when particular costs associated with a job have been charged out) and therefore can’t easily provide a figure for Work in Progress – which is, in essence, the costs associated with jobs that haven’t yet been charged out to customers. An accurate figure for Work in Progress is obviously needed for accurate accounts.

There is also an oddity in the way the company dates its invoices which, although I don’t fully understand the reasons for this, I just have to accept as the way things are done. It’s relevant because it does make calculation of a Work in Progress (WIP) figure that much more difficult.

It turns out that they have a list of every job in a spreadsheet, along with the date it was invoiced where appropriate – so by using that it’s possible to go through the list of jobs in Sage Job Costings and select those ones that haven’t been invoiced by a particular date (taking care not to select those new jobs that hadn’t been booked in by that date) and then run a report showing the total costings up to the desired date for all the selected jobs; this would be the WIP figure at that date. However, this is a very long and tedious job which is prone to error. It would possibly be a task that is bearable once every year, but certainly not something that anyone would want to do on a monthly basis. Continue reading »