KeyLogic Blog: BI/Information Visualization

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Automation vs. Manual Entry for the Financial Reporting Process

Jul 17, 2013

Many times in government contracting we are required to submit additional financial reporting that accompanies our monthly invoice. This financial reporting can range from providing a few additional pieces of information to completing a complex Excel document that takes several days to prepare and requires many hours of manual input. As the hours of manual entry increases so does the likelihood that human error will find its way into your financial report. Below are the steps necessary to determine if automation is an alternative to manual entry in your financial reporting process.

  1. Review the report format that has been provided to you and gain a complete understanding of the requirements. As soon as you become aware that you have required reports in addition to your monthly invoice begin to review each component of the report. Many times the forms will only require a few pieces of information. Other times you discover that the report will require an accounting assistant to spend a day’s worth of work preparing the report. If you are unsure any of the requirements, ask your Contracting Officer or Contracting Officer Representative for assistance in gaining a complete understanding of all the requirements.
  2. Determine if your accounting system currently stores the data required to be included in the financial report. Many times you will find that your current accounting system stores the required data in one or a few directories. Look at the new reports you now have to generate; by some function is all of data entered into your accounting system? If the answer is yes, those inputs will now become the outputs into your new report.
  3. Determine if your accounting system will produce a report that will be acceptable to the government. If the reports you generate through your accounting system contains the data required for your new report, the process of automation will be much easier. You may not have a “canned” report available in your accounting system, but using a report writer such as IBM® Cognos® Impromptu® can help extract the data contained in your accounting system and present the data in the government required format.

Other Means of Automation

There are other alternatives you can explore to remove manual operations from your reporting process.

Excel Macros: Simply stated, a Macro enables you to automate a complex or repeated task. These tasks may include but are not limited to entering data, editing data, formatting data or moving data in a given spreadsheet. Macros can be initiated through the use of custom buttons contained in the toolbar in Excel.

Scripts: A script by definition is a series of commands that is interpreted or carried out by another program rather than by the computer processor. Script files can be thought of as text documents that house a set of instructions written in one of the scripting languages. At KeyLogic, we have automated the process of calculating fully burdened, total time accounting, labor rates, that reconciles to the information contained in our accounting system, through the use of scripts.

Can you think of areas where you would like to automate your financial reporting?

 Written by: Stephen Paczek

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