The end of each calendar year marks the busy season for most accounting software users. They’re hurriedly making adjustments to their accounting records and performing tasks – such as closing the year – that happen only once annually.
Naturally everyone’s a little foggy as they perform tasks that are less familiar. Here’s a quick compilation of the top 10 mistakes we’ve seen users make with MAS 90 and MAS 200 – as well as our advice on how to avoid them.
10. Not making a backup company at year end.
As mistakes go this ones a little teeny one. Best practices followed by veteran MAS 90/200 users say to create a backup of your data prior to the year end close (In version 4.x you’ll do this in company maintenance – versions prior to 4.x use the File – Run SVDATA trick). The backup company comes in handy for researching old information, reprint payroll reports and in general is your safety net in case a main backup should fail.
Come to think of it – anytime you’re unsure of how a transaction is going to turn out (booking a reversal of an invoice) just make a backup company and first test the transaction in the backup company before performing it live.
9. Failing to reconcile the subsidiary ledger detail balances (accounts payable, accounts receivable, inventory) monthly to the general ledger control totals.
It’s far easier to reconcile an incorrect balance within 30 days of when it occurred than a whole year later. Face it, nobody will remember what happened a year ago to cause the balance on your general ledger to stop agreeing to the subsidiary reports (accounts payable listing, etc).
What, you mean nobody ever told you that your debits were supposed to equal your credits?
At a minimum reconcile all your subsidiary reports (accounts payable aging, accounts receivable aging, inventory valuation) to your general ledger accounts. Investigate any discrepancies immediately when you’ll still have a prayer of spotting them in under 12 hours because everything is fresh in your mind.
And while you’re at it eat better, exercise and take your vitamins. All things we know we ought to do – but too often don’t.
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8. Trying to agree the subsidiary AGED INVOICE instead of TRIAL BALANCE report to the general ledger (via Michael Pruet).
Here’s a good tip from consultant Michael Pruett (www.integratedaccounting.biz). When you’re trying to reconcile either the accounts receivable or accounts payable detail to the general ledger control – use the trial balance report in the payables or receivables module and not the aging report.
The trial balance report in either accounts payable or accounts receivable reconciles based on posting date. Just like your general ledger. If you try to use the aging reports those will report based on the invoice date and in some cases they’ll reconcile – but not if there have been other transaction between the month end and time the report printed.
Save yourself some headache (and consulting fees) – use the trial balance report found in both the accounts payable and accounts receivable modules to print detail reports that tie out to the general ledger.
7. Setting the data retention periods to any number less than the maximum in any module.
Data storage has been cheap since about the late 1980’s. Until your MAS 90/200 system begins to bog down (it almost never will) I recommend you set the maximum retention period. This is enabled on each individual module next to options that ask “number of months/days/periods to save history” (or similar phrasing).
The danger is retaining too little historical information is that once the data purges you can never get it back. I’ve seen many companies wish they’d saved more of their historical data which they can use for reporting, etc.
If you awaken one day and find that your system has too much data on hand – guess what? You can always purge it. But you can’t make it come back if you’ve chosen not to retain it to begin with.
6. Believing any third party software company who tells you that integration to MAS 90 or MAS 200 is “no problem”.
The happiest day in the ownership cycle of third party software that’s promised to “easily” integrate to MAS90/200 is the day you make the decision to buy it.
From that day forward it’s usually a never ending learning process of hidden limitations and “why didn’t we think to ask” about that.
It’s not that 3rd party software is bad – because usually it’s quite good. What’s usually bad is the integration to your accounting system.
When you think of the words “fully integrated” you’ll be imagining that with the push of one button all the data in the third party program magically sails into your MAS 90/200 system.
When the vendor who sold you the software used the world “fully integrated” what they really meant was that their software could create a plain text file. What you did with that text file was up to you and your accounting software consultant to figure out (usually for an extra fee).
Here’s a tip. If a third party solution provider tells you that it’s “no problem” to integrate their software to your MAS90/200 then reply back …
“If it’s no problem, then may I assume you won’t be concerned if I delay payment until after the integration is created and is working as described”
Tip: Get details on exactly how third party software will integrate to MAS 90/200. Will postings be in detail? Will you be forced to massage the data? Who will be responsible for creating the integration? These integrations are rarely “no problem” – so be sure to get the details in advance of writing a check.
5. Reinitializing any data file other than a temporary data entry file.
The “King Kong” of all data problems is when a data file is “mistakenly” erased. Usually this happens when a user watches their consultant fix a problem. Then, thinking that they can duplicate the steps when a similar error occurs, the client erases all their data files using Reinitialize Data Files in the MAS 90/200 utilities menu.
The moral of the story is: (a) Backup before erasing any file and (b) when you do erase a file be darned sure it’s not a history file (usually the only files that you’d want to initialize are data entry ones).
4. Failing to backup your data every day.
It’s absolutely shocking how many companies don’t have a backup. Some of them even KNOWINGLY don’t backup their data.
A quick and dirty way to back your data is to buy a cheap (under $100) USB drive and just copy the entire \MAS90 folder and all subfolders. This should get all of your core MAS 90 data.
Then go out and purchase a good tape backup drive with backup software (this should cost well under $2,000). For an investment of under $2,000 in proper backup procedures you can save $20,000 more in lost productivity should a drive shut down or crash during a busy month end.
3. Making a change to a payroll tax deduction and failing to check with your tax accountant to verify the proper tax treatment.
All payroll deductions are not treated the same way. Some may be subject to (or deducted before) different taxes. The time to discover this is when you’re initially setting up the deduction and not after using the code (wrongly) for a year.
Consult with your tax professional after you setup any new deduction or earnings codes. Better to disover problems in setup right at day one than during W2 printing at year end (when it’s too late to fix the issue).
2. Closing payroll for the year before printing W2s or making a backup.
Prior to closing out your payroll – but after the last payroll run of the year – make a backup (or two) of your payroll data. Most companies use the company maintenance trick referenced in #10 above.
Having a copy of your data on hand is also handy for those times (or twelve) when employees lose their W2 and as you to print them another midway through the next year.
1. Delete, renumbering or merging a range of customers, vendors, inventory item or general ledger accounts.
And the number one mistake – by far – is to mistakenly use Sage’s powerful delete/renumber/merge utility to combine all of your data. Usually you don’t want to delete or renumber a range of items. Most especially not on a Friday before a long holiday weekend.
The problem is that there’s no undo. Once you’ve merged all your items (almost always by mistake) you can’t make them come back.
Consultant Scott Hickman of Serviceworld Business Solutions and Gene Ulrich of New Solutions NW explain it this way:
How about merging all inventory items into a single part number? Same with customers?The call starts – “all my part numbers are gone except one…. Let me tell you what I did…. “ I interrupt, “you went into an Inventory Utility……” They say “yes, but……..”
Same song for customers……
Tip: Before you delete/renumber/merge (or do anything in MAS90/200 that could alter data) make a backup.
Some honorable mention goofs courtesy Mark Kotyla of Giving Tree Consulting:
One that I see occasionally is reopening a closed GL year and closing again… not realizing that GL is configured to 1. Reset journal & registers at year end and 2. Copy actual to default budget is checked.
Another is configuring allocation journals based on period activity, opening prior periods and not running the allocations before reclosing the period.
Using General Journal Entry to record bank rec activity, and either not entering them in Bank Rec or entering them into Bank Rec as adjustments and not knowing whether to use a positive or negative value
Start configuring AP for 1099 printing mid year and act disappointed when MAS won’t magically recalculate the first 6 months of payment history
Installing service updates, then checking whether enhancements exist or upgrade OS, then ask about compatibility
Set passwords on Paperless office documents, then forget them
Think you have a bug because you can’t find the Invoice Payment Selection Register on the 4.3 AP menu
Image via: Despair