ACCOUNTING MADE SIMPLE
A package for the small business
THE SMALL Business Accounts program from Willden Services under the Sinclair banner contained some bugs and was quickly withdrawn. The corrected version is now available and is in almost identical packaging to the original.
A comprehensive 32-page A6-size manual includes sections on the arrays and variables and notes for an accountant. The cassette holds a training version of the program on one side and the working version on the other, with only minor differences between the two.
The programs are both driven from a main menu which is split into three sections - Data Entry, Data Access and Special Procedures - see figure one.
In the working program, Option 12 becomes Load Data and Option 13 is not used.
It is worth running the training program several times to get the feel of it before starting. Once loaded, the program prompts for a password and allows two attempts at getting it correct. To change the password the program must be broken into and the variable for the password changed. That is explained in the manual. As a security device it seems about as useful as an open safe.
The next prompt is for the date. The format is of the form 1984 FEB 24 rather than the more usual 24/02/84. The program compares that to its inbuilt financial year - initially set as January & December - and uses it to determine depreciation. Despite requiring capitals the program permits lower-case letters as part of the string. Doing so affects the depreciation routines and gives an erroneous reading. A safety check is built-in with the string displayed and the program prompting for a yes/no response to whether the information is correct.
To get a feel for the program, Option 12, Training should then be taken. Before starting, the user is given a warning that it will erase any data already in memory, with the option of backing out. Once chosen, the option replaces any existing data with fictitious data and presents a balance sheet. The user has the choice either of having the balance sheet printed or of returning to the menu to try the different options.
Option 1 allows entries to be made into the cash book under eight headings - cash sales, own funds, loans, external loans excluding bank overdraft interest received, sales ledger, discount, amounts deducted by customers, settlement of amounts paid in under the sales ledger, sundry used for income which is not subject to VAT or which does not affect stock, and VAT received. An entry under cash sales is also added to the gross sales, the net-sales after 15 percent VAT has been deducted, and a percentage to the gross profit total - initially 30 percent but instructions on how to change it are in the manual.
The cash book out option allows a record to be made of the payments made by the payee and the amount and to assign it to one of nine pre-set allocations. They are the bought ledger, discount - they operate in a similar manner to the cash sales and discount entries in option 1; wages - the net figure after PAYE and National Insurance contributions have been deducted - that program will prompt for them to be entered separately; VAT out - used for settlement of quarterly VAT account; interest out; petty cash - entries reduce the bank account figure and increase the petty cash figure; sundry; PAYE - used for the settlement of PAYE and National insurance payments; and own use.
The sales invoice option allows the number of invoices entered at one time to be set. The size of the display limits that to a maximum of eight. Once the number of invoices has been set the program prompts for the gross value and the VAT of each in turn. The amount of VAT due at a rate of 15 percent is also usefully displayed.
The purchase invoice option for invoices from suppliers allows the gross value and VAT to be recorded and the supplier. It also allows the invoice to be attributed to one of 15 accounts. A maximum of six invoices can be entered at one time.
Working in a similar way to purchase invoices, option 5, petty cash, deducts the amounts from the cash-in-hand entry on the balance sheet. When showing the VAT the user is also reminded that it should be zero for wages and postage. The user is asked to confirm the gross amount and VAT before allocating the bill to one of six accounts. If wages is the selected account, prompts are also made for PAYE and National Insurance contributions.
The data access routines provide most of the information auditors are likely to require. The VAT return, option 6, shows the sales and purchase totals inclusive and exclusive of VAT for the current quarter, the whole year and a baseline of how much the user owes the taxman, or vice versa. The trading account shows the opening stock, purchases, closing stock, consumption, sales and gross profit, while the profit and loss account and the balance sheet - figure two - are presented in the traditional manner.
The nominal ledger covers some two-and-a-half screens showing a breakdown of a company's trading into the relevant accounts. That is the only one of the data access routines which does not allow the user the option of taking a copy. A copy can be obtained by pressing N in response to the scroll? question and following it with COPY - the Z key - and ENTER. Once the printer is finished the program can be returned to the same point using CONTINUE - the C key - and ENTER.
There are two differences in the working and training programs. The function of option 12, training, has already been described while the same option on the working program, Load, is self-explanatory as is option 14, save to tape.
Option 13 is spare on the working side but on the training side it is used for the initialisation of the accounts before regular use of the system. Again the user thoughtfully is provided with an escape route and a warning that any previous data will be erased.
The user is then taken step by step through entering the liabilities and assets as they appear on the balance sheet. Next are the prompts for the outstanding VAT figures. If you should be lucky enough for the VAT quarter and your financial year to coincide they will be zero. Once that is done the balance sheet is displayed and the data should be saved to tape before closing the training program. Once the initialisation routine is completed it is impossible to return to any data entry routine without first saving and verifying the data.
The remaining two options are 11, credit notes, and 16, stock adjustment. The credit notes routine deals with the situation when goods are returned, either by you or your customer, and asks for the gross value, VAT and whether a sales or purchase note. If it is a purchase note an allocation to one of the accounts must also be made. The stock adjustment routine allows the user to change the value of stocks, after which a revised balance sheet is shown.
Accounting procedures are something with which all businessmen are familiar to one degree or another. The computerisation of these records is less familiar. One reason is the inability of programs and programmers to meet the multiplicity of criteria required by differing businesses and yet at the same time remain simple.
Willden Services has attempted to overcome that with Small Business Accounts and has succeeded to a remarkable degree.
The program also has a high level of error-trapping to avoid the input of obviously ridiculous entries. To achieve the flexibility to meet an individual company's needs it is necessary for someone in the company to have at least a rudimentary knowledge of programming to set some of the variables. Although the manual explains the steps necessary, unfortunately it makes the program a great deal less user-friendly.
Small Business Accounts is available from Sinclair Research, Stanhope Road, Camberley, Surrey GU15 3BR.