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Are you taking advantage of user-defined books yet? Here’s why you should

Sandy McClure loves user-defined books, so much that she gave a presentation called “Clear Up The Mystery of User-Defined Books and Expand Your Reporting Options” at the recent Sage Transform 2022 conference in Orlando and encouraged finance professionals to give them a try.

User-defined books, she said, are particularly useful when management wants to see the details of financial areas not required in accrual or GAAP books. They are a “second set of numbers,” that add color to standard reports and give the readers deeper understanding of an organization’s financial position. User-defined books are commonly used to track specialized adjustments that are not included in a company’s audited financials; however, user-defined books can be used to meet any reporting needs of the company for other audiences (ie, management, banks, etc.).

McClure, a CPA and a senior manager at Baker Tilly Digital US, began her session with an audience “poll,” asking her listeners to stand if they’ve ever tried user-defined books. She was encouraged that a large number of attendees knew of or had tried user-defined books.

Her informal audience survey revealed that her listeners had set up user-defined books to track funds, but had not experienced the wide variety of usage in categories, including:

  • Grant matches
  • Committed purchases
  • Taxes
  • Allocations
  • Payroll details
  • Mergers, acquisitions and divestitures
Envisioning the future

McClure indicated that user-defined books are particularly useful in envisioning the future; that is, understanding the consequences of various “what-if” decisions. She noted that Sage Intacct accounting software makes it easy to enable user-defined books; grant user permissions; and add them to books and journals. Users can create as many user-defined books as they wish, all tied to the same chart of accounts. They are free to the user and helpful in adding detail around the organizations’ future orders, sales, purchases, and in essence, helping readers envision the future and better understand the consequence of various “what-if” decisions.

This Sage Intacct help information gives real-world examples of how organizations can take advantage of user-defined reports to draw attention to issues important to particular industries, like how real estate adjustments affect the fortunes of property management companies. The how-to guide also explains how companies can report on a particular book alone, or in combination with other books.

According to Sage Intacct, user-defined books are ideal when an organization needs to track and report on specialized accounting entries, such as:

  • Industry-specific accounting differences necessary for certain reports
  • State and local tax code differences for geographical areas where a company does business
  • Benchmarking standards
  • Other types of entries outside of a company’s actual books

After more than a decade using Sage Intacct software to build user-defined books, McClure pronounced the current “help” screens and other tools as “amazing.” If you haven’t tried user-defined books or want to learn how to get more out of your user-defined books, Baker Tilly Digital is here to help.

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