The IT Works Accounting Module is a grant and fund accounting system designed to complement an institution’s general ledger, purchasing, and payroll systems.  It combines transactions from these existing systems with additional information such as encumbrances of projected personnel and F&A costs, soft encumbrances, and user defined coding systems.  The enhanced data set is used to provide more accurate and up to date balance information and to create more informative financial reports.  The Accounting Module also allows users to simultaneously manage funds maintained by the general ledger and user-defined cost codes for tracking internally controlled budgets or allocations such investigator start-up funds and travel allowances.  In addition, the Accounting Module supports multiple account structures for organizations needing to combine budgets from different corporate entities or affiliates such as universities, hospitals, foundations, research institutes, physician practice plans and research institutes

Unlike most general ledger systems, the Accounting Module is not tied to a particular fiscal year.  This makes it particularly suited for multi-year projects and funds such as sponsored projects with budget periods that overlap the institution’s fiscal year.

It is designed for managing both “Budget Driven” and “Revenue Driven” funds such as:

  • Grants and Sponsored Projects
  • Contracts and Subcontracts
  • State Funds
  • Revolving, Overhead, and Institutional Funds
  • Clinical Income
  • Clinical Trials
  • Internal Receipt Funds (for managing recharge centers, etc.)
  • Endowments and Trust Funds
  • Gifts
  • Special Commitments (such as faculty startup funds, internally sponsored research, etc.)

The Accounting Module stores individual transactions for each funding source.  Budget, encumbrance, income, and expense transactions may be manually entered or imported via an interface to existing general ledger, purchasing, and payroll systems.  Documents (such as vendor quotes or scanned .pdf files of receipts) can be attached to transactions for audit backup.

The most important benefits of the IT Works Accounting Module are provided through its reporting system.  They turn numbers into usable information, and deliver easy to interpret analytical information including both actuals and future commitments to administrators, project managers, faculty and scientists.


Highlights

  • Configurable to meet the needs of individual institutions and organizational units
  • Replaces spread sheet based accounting practices
  • Improves administrative efficiency
  • Sets quality assurance standards
  • Provides better control of budgets and project expenditures
  • Provides easy to interpret reports to investigators, project managers and senior administrators including:Projects and encumber personnel costs from multiple funding sources
    • Summary information by individual or groups of funds
    • Detailed transaction information
    • Projected salary & benefit costs
    • Consolidated information from multiple corporate entities
    • Profit / loss statements by organizational unit, faculty, or scientist
    • Monthly burn-rate analysis
    • User-defined formats
  • Manages special commitments & information unique to your organization with user-defined coding systems
  • Electronically interface to purchasing, payroll, and general ledger financial systems
  • Allows simultaneous data access to multiple users
  • Comprehensive, multi-level security system
  • Includes implementation, training, continuous user support, and software modifications to meet unique needs

The Accounting Module is the central tool for organization oversight.  In the simplest case, it provides balances for individual projects or all of an investigator’s funding.  From a more advanced perspective, it can used to analyze the financial state of an entire organization.


User Interface

The Accounting Module uses two interfaces, one for administrators and a second for end users such as project managers, faculty, investigators, and scientists.  Both are controlled by a robust, multi-tiered security system that grants functionality and data access rights.  The administrative interface includes data entry screens for setting up coding systems, budgets, and performing transaction data entry.  It also provides control over the internal security system, interfaces to other financial systems, and yearend closeout and archiving procedures.

The end users interface, often referred to as an investigators or project managers reporting portal, operates much like an on-line banking system.  It provides easy to read balance and financial information via the internet and uses drill-down technology to retrieve live information with minimal training.

The Accounting Module allows users to track journal entries, requisitions, blank or standing purchase orders, soft encumbrances, travel advances and reimbursements, purchasing or VISA card transactions, payroll and benefit charges, as well as projected personnel and indirect cost encumbrances.  User defined codes allow for the tracking of information unique to an organizational unit.  Field labels can be modified to match local terminology and search procedures and filters provide quick access to data.

Reports

Reports turn previously entered or imported transactions into useable information that can be displayed, printed, or exported into standard file formats.  Reports may combine budget, income and /or expenditure actuals, non-personnel encumbrances, encumbrances of projected personnel and F&A costs, and other descriptive information.  The Accounting Module comes with a comprehensive set of canned reports developed at the request of administrators and key personnel from numerous, nationally acclaimed colleges, universities, and research institutes that are used by thousands of users nationally.

Report generation is a two-step process:  criteria selection and format definition.  The criteria selection step determines which records are retrieved from the database.  To complete this step, the user enters parameters on a criteria selection form to define the data that is to be used in the report.  For example, to pull the records for a single fund or project, a segment of the account structure is entered in the corresponding criteria field on the criteria selection form.  A date range can be added to further limit the data.  Examples of criteria include: date ranges; components of an institution’s account structure (such as project codes, accounts, funds, cost centers, object codes, program codes, etc.); attributes of the account structure (such as principle investigator, funding agency, organizational unit, etc.); vendor; purchasing or VISA card; and other user defined codes.

The format definition step determines how the selected information is to be presented. Examples of report formats include balance views that present totals by fund or project and budget reports that summarize information by expense category or chart of accounts. Salary distributions of employees currently paid from a project can be printed with its balance.  Additional formats include detailed transaction listings, tables that present expenditures by month and summaries by user defined grouping systems. More advanced management reports project salary & benefit costs, consolidate information from multiple corporate entities, and present profit/loss statements by organizational unit, faculty, or investigator.

Examples of Report Formats

  • Summary for a Single Grant: This report shows the amounts budgeted, encumbered, and expensed by major expense category (i.e. chart of accounts rollup).  It includes encumbrances of projected salary and benefit costs.  It also displays the percent of budget remaining and the names and salaries of employees currently paid on the grant.  Other versions of this report breakout indirect costs, budget revisions, carry-over amounts, and historical personnel information.  View example.
  • Detailed Transaction Listing for a Single Grant:  This report lists dates, vendor, reference and purchase order numbers, and descriptive information for individual purchasing transactions, payroll charges, journal entries, budget adjustments, etc.  Transactions are grouped and sorted by expense category and includes amount budgeted, encumbered, expensed, as well as the balance.  View example.
  • Summary of Expenditures by Month for a Single Grant:  This report shows a table of total expenditures by month and expense category.   It includes monthly totals of direct and indirect costs, the total expenditures, the monthly budget, and a comparison of budget to actuals on the bottom row of the table. View Example.
  • Example of an Income Statement:  This report is used for managing revenue driven funds.  It includes budget, encumbrances, income, and expenditures rolled up by major income and expenditure categories.  Information is first grouped by revenue lines, then expenditures.  View example.
  • Combined Balances for a Group of Grants:  This report is an example of a user-defined group of grants.  It shows the total amount budgeted, encumbered, and expensed as well as the balance for each grant. Combined totals are also presented.  View example. 
  • All Funds Financial Summary:  This report combines multiple types of funding sources including both budget driven and revenue driven funds.  Columns contain information for user-define funding groups and rows display totals by revenue or expenditure category.  The top row of values displays the total budget for budget driven funds and the beginning balance for revenue driven funds.  This format is often used in the analysis of the overall financial state of an organizational unit. It also supports the combination of information from disparate corporate entities that utilize different account structures or general ledger systems.  In such as case, a user-controlled mapping system is used to organized equivalent revenue or expenditure categories.  View example. 
  • Projected Salaries Per Month by Employee for a Single Grant:  This report extracts information from the IT Works Personnel Module to calculate projected salaries and benefits for employees paid on a single grant.  Columns display monthly totals.  Row display amounts for each employee.  Other versions of this report displays percentages instead of amounts; sort first by employee then funding source; or combine actual and projected expenditures.  View example. 

More advanced users may develop their own report formats using a standard reporting tool such as MS AccessTM, Crystal ReportsTM, or Telerik ReportsTM.  Data for these reports may be extracted from the Accounting Module SQL database via an ODBC connection or to a temporary table generated by the Accounting Module administrators interface.

Projection and Encumbrance of Personnel Costs

The management of personnel costs has long been a centerpiece in the design of the IT Works Accounting Module. Considering that 70-80 percent of the typical budget is used to support personnel, the management of this money has to be a priority. This is accomplished via a link with our Personnel Module. When the Accounting Module is used with the Personnel Module, a salary and fringe benefit projection system allows users to generate projections of personnel expenditures for individuals or groups of employees. The results of the projections may be loaded as encumbrance transactions in the Accounting Module or printed in various report formats.

When encumbrance transactions have been created, they are available for report generation. This process allows reports to present information so that balances of personnel budget categories to appear committed or ‘set aside’.  If the balance of a personnel category is negative, then the personnel budget is being over spent. If it is positive, the personnel budget is being under spent. Because these balances are being created by the encumbrance transactions, administrators can correct these situations before they actually occur.

Additional reports can be generated without loading the encumbrance transactions.  These reports present information in tabular formats sorted and totaled by individual or groups of accounts, cost centers, or employees.  Report columns may include amounts totaled by budget period, month, or pay period.  Reports may display projected personnel costs or combine them with previously entered or imported expenditure data.  Combining actuals and commitments allows decision making with most accurate information available.   Additional reports allow users to compare expenditures to projections thereby determining if an employee’s pay plan was correctly executed.

The Accounting Module Projection System also allows users to generate reports after performing “what if” scenarios on employee salary distributions or pay plans. This allows administrators to visualize how adding a new employee or changing an employee’s percent of pay effects a projects balance before authorizing the action.

Cost Accounting

The IT Works Accounting Module is a double-ledger system. It maintains accounts (funds, projects, etc.) based on the account structure defined of your institution’s general ledger system as well as user-defined cost centers. User defined cost centers provide the structure for cost accounting functions. Cost centers are codes that, like your institutions accounts, are used at the transaction level. They may be used to partition a general ledger account (funds, project, etc.) or they may ‘cross’ general ledger accounts (funds, projects, etc.). In the first case, they are often referred to as sub-accounts. In the second case, they are independent of accounts and may be used to manage special commitments or budgetary units.

Examples of budgetary units may include a department’s administrative division, a recharge center or core facility, or individual faculty or investigators. The term “crossing accounts” refers to cases when cost center expenditures use different money from multiple institutional funding sources.  An example of a cost center “crossing accounts” occurs when a faculty member or scientist is given startup funds. At the time the initial commitment is made, senior administrators may not know what funding source will be used when an actual expenditure occurs. The IT Works Accounting Module allows the cost center budget to be kept independent of any institutional funded budget. When future expenditures are made, the user may choose one of many non-restricted institutional funds.

Cost centers are controlled by IT Works software users and are not usually part of the general ledger or ERP system used by the institution as a whole. During the report generation process, users may select subsets of information by cost center or produce reports that are grouped and totaled by cost center.

Interfaces to Other Systems and Import Procedures

The Accounting Module system architecture is compatible with and integrates with financial packages used in most academic, research, and medical environments. Budget, income, expense, and encumbrance transaction data (including purchasing and payroll data) can be electronically imported from ERP, general ledger, purchasing, and payroll systems via customized import interfaces.  IT Works implementation and development staff specialize in customizing import interfaces to meet the unique requirements of individual organizations.  Multiple import interfaces may be used for a single installation, especially in cases where the institution’s general ledger does not provide detailed payroll transactions.  In these cases, separate payroll and non-personnel interfaces are used to create a more detailed data set.  Multiple interfaces are also used when data from disparate corporate entities is being managed.  Interfaces can be configured to execute automatically or at the request of a system administrator.

Import procedures are based on how a particular organization has implemented their ERP / financial system.  Data is mapped from the institution’s system into the Accounting Module and transaction processing and data validation rules are applied as information is loaded.  An Exception Processing System allows users resolve data conflicts or correct transactions that contain invalid information.

Data Security

The IT Works Accounting Module stores information in a secure SQL Server database.  Access to this information is controlled by a sophisticated, multi-tiered security system built into the application. It allows an administrator to control the functionality as well as the data-access for each user.

Examples of functionality controls include the enabling or disabling of menu items and buttons that control access to data display forms, user setup screens, data transfer procedures, etc. or whether a user has the rights to view, edit, or delete data.  Data-access controls determine which transactions a user can access.  Data access can be defined by individual funding source, user-define cost accounting codes, or an institutions chart of accounts.  In most instances, security is configured so that investigators can view only their grants and department level administrators can only access the funds controlled by their organizational unit. This later example is often used at institutions with a decentralized accounting staff.