Small Things Can Make A Difference: A Good Transaction Audit Trail

Internal Controls have been a big buzz phrase in the accounting industry for the last several years. Part of having good internal software controls is to have a good audit trail. Without an audit trail, it is difficult to hold your employees accountable when they make errors, or worse, when fraudulent transactions have been entered.

For companies that have multiple employees entering and editing transactions in accounting and business software, it is important to know who added a transaction and when it was posted. If you don’t have that information, how can you hold employees accountable?

A good audit trail system should include the following features:

  • Keeps a user record for each transaction entered into the system.
  • Keeps the date and time of each transaction entry.
  • When a transaction is edited the system maintains a record of the original transaction.
  • The new edited transaction record must contain the user that edited it along with the date and time it was edited.
  • Ability to track the history of edited records, when multiple edits have been processed.
  • If the system allows checks and invoices to be reprinted the system must keep a record of who reprinted the documents, the date, time and the number of times the documents have been reprinted and any original information that was changed.
  • The ability to prevent duplicate numbers for checks and customer invoices.

Small Things Can Make a Big Difference: Customized Menus

How much time is spent finding the menu items for entering data into your accounting software?

How much time does it take to find your favorite reports?

How much time does it take to find the spreadsheets that you use every day?

How much time do you or staff spend thinking about what to do next?

How many times are tasks completed in the wrong order?

The amount of time that it takes for the above questions would probably surprise you. A few seconds here and a few seconds there don’t add up to much, until you multiply that by 10, 20, or 50 times per day. Then multiply that number by 250 days a year.

Tool bar icons and customizable tool bars were invented as a way to resolve some of the problems posed by the questions above. However, in most programs you have to memorize what the tool bar icon represents in order to use it effectively. Sure, you can hover your mouse over the icon to see what it is for, but that takes valuable time.

Another method is short cut keys. But again, you have to memorize them.

In order to help improve your organizational efficiency and effectiveness your accounting and business software program should allow you to build your own customized menus for you and your staff. The menu building features to consider include:

  • The ability to order menus items according to workflow.
  • The ability to rename menu items, so that they are understood by the person performing the tasks.
  • The ability to create groups of menu items.
  • The ability to copy outside program links as menu items (ex. a favorite spreadsheet).
  • The ability to create a separate menu for each staff member.