1 Jan 2018 - Release of new features - significant enhancement

During the period Nov-Dec 2017 the AlSuite team worked relentlessly to introduce new features in the AlSuite  environment, which we would like to highlight here. These features are categorized as "Significant enhancement" because they are quite diverse and also robust in nature. New features affect the Account unit most.

In order to gain an indepth understanding of these features, we strongly recommend going through the newly documented manuals: AlSuite Setup Manual and AlSuite User Manual.

Overview of new features in a snap shot:
  • Double posting in accounts
  • Project-specific chart of accounts
  • Mapping of project-specific CoA to organization-wide CoA
  • Multi-level chart of accounts
  • Multi-currency (base currency and project currency)
  • Contacts (clients, suppliers / vendors, both)
  • Raising invoices against projects and clients
  • Products and services
  • Taxes
  • Standard items
  • Suppliers along the billing cycle
  • Journal entries
  • Accounts-related reports in Accounts Unit
  • Budget stand report in Reporting Unit

In the subsequent sections we highlight the new features and the end of it all, we outline critical steps necessary for getting started in the new environment. These critical steps are especially required for organizations already using AlSuite to optimize their projects to run in the new environment.

1.       Double posting in accounts
Till now, AlSuite was not capable of double-posting in accounts. With the new features, double posting is now in place. All standard account types are supported, i.e. Accounts payable, Accounts receivable, Cash and cash equivalents, Credit card, Current Assets, Current liabilities, Expenses, Fixed assets, Income, Non-current liabilities and Owner equity.

2.       Project-specific CoA versus Organization-wide CoA
Most organizations struggling with translating project-specific budgets with respective structures, what we could call project-specific chart of account to the organization-wide chart of account. In order to address this situation, in AlSuite now, you can only create chart of accounts per project. The project-specific CoAs are linked to the organization-wide CoA for reporting purposes.
The advantages associated with this are immense. Below are a few highlights:
  • At any point in time, you have an overview of the financial stand of your project
  • You run trial balance, balance sheet, profit-loss statement, cashbook etc. for a specific project giving you an instant overview
  • What you see in any given bank account, is not the totality of funds present in that account, but at project level, it is the amount of funds related to that project that is present in the given bank account. At consolidated level, i.e. organization-wide CoA, you are able to see the complete picture.
  • The structure of your CoA can now be one-to-one with the structure of your proposal budget. With the help of linkages, you can map this to the organization-wide CoA for purposes of getting a broader picture during analysis.
The project-specific CoA has some implications. Perhaps the most critical implication is the fact that a complete CoA must be created for each project, including bank accounts, petty cash, VAT control, WHT control, accounts payables, accounts receivables etc. But this is a one-time effort done during project setup.

3.       Multi-level chart of accounts
We have now introduced multi-level chart of accounts, enabling the Accounts team to define as many levels as possible against a parent account. A multi-level CoA could look like this:
Parent and child accounts: You can create limitless levels of sub-accounts below a parent account, e.g.:
  • 1 Expense
    • 1.1 Communication
      • 1.1.1 Airtime
      • 1.1.2 Internet
        • Internet - Airtel
        • Internet - TNM
          • Etc. - the levels are limitless
4.       Multi-currency
AlSuite now supports multi-currency. We now have two types of currencies:
  • Base currency: This is the currency defined at the time when an organization is being created. It is the currency used for operations throughout the whole platform.
  • Project currency: This is the currency specified when creating a project. It is the currency against which a project is contracted. For example, for a Ugandan company, the base currency would most probably be Uganda Shillings (UGX), but the project currency depends on the client / donor, it could be USD, GBP, EUR etc.
The multi-currency comes into play when raising invoices, running bank transfers, and also in running reports you will be able to specify the currency in which a report should be generated.

5.       Contacts
What used to be "Clients" is now "Contacts". A contact can be a client, a supplier / vendor or both. The contacts created in AlSuite is important for raising invoices in the case of clients and in raising purchase or bills in the case of vendors. In AlSuite, a contact can be both a client or a vendor.

6.       Invoicing against projects
We have now introduced the invoicing workflow, which permits the Accounts unit to raise an invoice against a project and a client. At any point in time you are able to track invoices in status open, in progress (partly paid) and paid up. Invoices can be raised in multi-currency.

7.       Products and services
In the section "Finance settings" under unit "Accounts", products and services have now been introduced to support with the raising of invoices. Products and services are defined with a unit price; however, these can be changed at the time of raising an invoice.

8.       Taxes
In unit Accounts under the section "Finance Settings" we have introduced taxes. You can now define the different applicable taxes with respective tax rates. You can define as many taxes with respective rates as required. Typical taxes include value-added-tax (VAT) and withholding tax (WHT). Taxes are supposed to be linked to project-specific chart of accounts in the CoA side. So you must create CoAs for each project to track applicable taxes for that project. Taxes can be specified when creating requisitions for bills, purchases or activity plans.

9. Standard items
Standard items are used for standardizing requisitons. Alongside default standard items that are shipped with AlSuite, you can define as many organization standard items, specific to your organization, as you deem necessary. At the time of raising a requisition, in case an item of interest is not listed as standard item, we recommend to use "Other". In the foreseeable future, standard items will be used for analytics, e.g. for a standard item "Fuel", an organization might be interested in analyzing fuel consumption per project. Take time to define all pertinent organization items beyond standard items.

10.       Suppliers along the billing cycle
We have now introduced suppliers in the billing cycle. Suppliers must be created in the unit Accounts under the section "Contacts". When raising a bill, or a purchase you must specify a supplier / vendor. For activity plans, a supplier or vendor is obligatory.

11.       Journal entries
We have now introduced journal entries in accounts to support with direct journal postings of transactions that do not require an activity plan, a bill or a purchase. These include bank transfers, income e.g. bank interest, expenses e.g. bank charges etc. Direct journal entries must be used with caution. You will find a detailed description of the different journal entries and how to use them under the user manual section "10. Further accounting features".

Journal entry posts include: Add transfer, add income, add expense, add custom debit record, add custom credit record. For each custom debit and credit records you can run several split transactions.

12.       Accounts-related reports in Account unit
We have now configured critical accounts-related reports which can be accessed under the unit "Accounts" in the section "Reports".
The following reports can be generated per project:
  • General Journal
  • General Ledger
  • Trial Balance
  • Balance Sheet
  • Cash Book
  • Income Statement
13.       Budget stand report in Reporting unit
In the unit "Reports" a new report has been introduced called "Budget" which enables a user to generate a budget utilization report for a given project and for a specified period. 

14.       Getting started in the new environment
Use this section as a check list to ensure you have taken into account all critical configuration settings for your project, especially optimizing AlSuite running running projects.
  1. Prepare project-specific books of accounts for migration: In order to migrate current books of accounts, you must prepare an income statement and a balance sheet that is balanced. You will need to post all amounts as opening balances across the CoA you will create for each project.
  2. Create project-specific CoAs: For each project, create project-specific chart of accounts with correct opening balances. Note that project-specific CoAs must be complete with bank accounts, petty cash, assets, accounts payables, accounts receivables, VAT control accounts, WHT control accounts, etc.
    • Some key points to bear in mind when defining project-specific CoAs
    • Project-specific CoAs are a true representation of a complete CoA, only with a focus on the project budget structure. This implies that each project will have the same bank account created. Through linkages to the organization-wide CoA, consolidated analysis of a given bank account will be possible.
    • Specify a currency for each project by editing the project details. Please bare in mind that the project currency is the currency in which the project receives its funds.
    • You should be clear about which project will be used for capturing bank-related expenses e.g. bank charges and income, e.g. interest, to avoid double-posting of the same across different projects.
  3. Define all organization-wide items: Ensure all standard organization items for raising requisitions have been defined to complement default standard items.
  4. Define products and services: Ensure all products and services to be invoiced have been defined.
  5. Define taxes: Ensure all applicable taxes: VAT, WHT, etc have been defined.
  6. Define contacts: Create all clients and suppliers / vendors for your organization.
  7. Invoicing: If you already had a project running, you do not need to invoice retrospectively, as your opening balance should reflect this. However, going forward, you will have to raise invoices to receive more funds. The "Receive funds" functionality is now deprecated.
  8. Contacts: Update all your former Clients which are now under Contacts, specify a type for each i.e. Customer, Vendor or Both.
  9. Some tips for the configuration team: TRIAL BALANCE
    1. For each project, make sure you have a clean, i.e. zero trial balance in the current account system
    2. Create project-specific CoAs with the clean trial balance, i.e. opening balances per project chart of account line.
    3. Run a trial balance report for each project created in AlSuite to ensure it tallies with No. 1.
    4. Begin making postings to project specific CoAs.
Should you have difficulties, feel free to send email to community at alsuite dot com for support.

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