The C/Books accounting system was designed with some specific goals in mind. To attain these goals, some different techniques were developed for business accounting that make the C/Books rather unique as an accounting system. The five goals for the accounting system are:
Ease of use
Multiple accounting periods open at once
Easy error correction
Similar to manual accounting systems
Sophisticated in its accounting procedures
Since this accounting system will usually be installed in businesses that have not previously had a business computer system, it must be easy for the computer novice to use.
This goal was achieved in several ways. First, the application was developed using C/Base. This provides a very consistent interface between the accounting system and the user. The accounting system has a complete set of menus for selecting all of the data entry screens, reports, and processes that are available. The C/Base menu system is very easy to use, and clearly shows all of the options available to the accounting system user. Also, for the applications developer, the menu system allows complete flexibility in what is performed for each of the different menu selections. Any command or series of commands can be executed as a selection from a menu.
Also, all of the data entry forms use the C/Base forms handler, so data entry is done in an identical manner on each of the many data entry screens. Entering, querying, updating and deleting data is the same from one screen to the next. What the C/Books user learns in operating one data entry screen is applicable to any other data entry screen.
Some of the data entry forms that are used in the accounting system are quite sophisticated. The Accounts Payable voucher form and the Accounts Receivable invoice form both have multiple parts to them. For example, you may enter any number of invoice line items on the invoice screen, instead of having to enter multiple invoices and invoice numbers if the customer invoice is too long for the computer form.
The second design goal for the C/Books accounting system was to allow multiple accounting periods to be open at the same time. Almost all other computer accounting systems require that only one accounting period be open at one time. All transactions that are entered apply to the current accounting period. When one accounting period is closed, the next accounting period is opened, and all subsequent transactions apply to that accounting period.
In practice, all manual accounting systems have several accounting periods open at the same time. The head bookkeeper will be making adjusting entries to the general ledger at the end of a month, long after the accounts payable clerk has started posting the payables for the next month. Since the accounting periods are overlapped this way in a manual system, errors that are caught at the end of a month can be corrected without preventing other transactions from being posted into the next month. If a computer accounting system requires that all transactions be posted in the same accounting month, then the head bookkeeper must make sure all the transactions are correct, before proceeding into the next month.
In the C/Books accounting system, multiple accounting periods can be open at the same time. Each transaction is dated, and a transaction is included in a particular accounting period, strictly by the date of the transaction. It is even possible to change the date of a transaction, and by doing so, move that transaction from one accounting period to another. The accounting system keeps track of the last accounting period that has been closed, and no transactions can be posted into that, or previous accounting periods. Other than this one restriction, there is no limit on the dates used for transactions. This allows the computer accounting system to be used in the same way that manual accounting systems operate.
The third design goal of the C/Books accounting system was easy error correction. Many accounting systems do not allow accounting transactions to be changed once they have been entered. Instead, errors are corrected by entering additional transactions. Such a procedure causes novice accounting system users to be extremely cautious when entering transactions, since simple typing errors cannot be changed once entered. The C/Books allow transactions that have been entered, to be updated or deleted, as long as the accounting period for that transaction is still open. Of course, once an accounting period has been closed, no transactions during that period can be changed. Transaction amounts and quantities can be changed, or entire transactions can be deleted, if they were entered erroneously.
Transactions are summarized for posting to the general ledger when an accounting period is closed, so any corrections that are made will be included at that time.
The fourth design goal was to make the C/Books accounting system as similar as possible to a manual accounting system. Since this computer accounting system will very often replace a manual accounting system, this system should imitate many of the manual accounting system procedures so the procedures will be somewhat familiar to the new users of the accounting system.
As a result of this design goal, one data entry screen was provided for each different type of accounting function. For example, in the C/Books accounting system, both Accounts Payable vouchers and Vendor Debit Memos are entered into the same file. However, vouchers are entered with one data entry screen, and vendor debit memos are entered with a second similar screen. If an all-purpose Accounts Payable transaction screen were used instead, special transaction codes would be needed to distinguish between vouchers and vendor debits. The use of separate data entry screens for vouchers and vendor debits eliminates the need for such transaction codes, and is closer to what is actually used in a manual accounting system. In such a system, a different printed form would be used for vouchers and vendor debits. This same philosophy was used in the Accounts Receivable system, where there is a different data entry screen for invoices and for customer credits.
Some of the other features mentioned above also help to make the computer accounting system similar to a manual accounting system. Being able to have several accounting periods open at the same time is one example. Another example is allowing transactions to be changed or deleted. These can be done in a manual accounting system, so they should also be allowed in a computer accounting system.
The last design goal was to provide sophisticated accounting techniques to the computer accounting system user. People choosing to use a computer accounting system do so because their manual accounting system has become inadequate. They expect the computer accounting system to provide more information in the way of reports from the information stored in the accounting system. They expect the computer accounting system to keep accurate track of customers, vendors, and inventory, and to provide reports on delinquent customers and low inventory, whenever desired. The new computer user might also expect to keep much more detailed information, than was ever possible with a manual accounting system. The C/Books accounting system provides all these capabilities.