Is accounting software the panacea it’s supposed to be? Good question.
Having spent a career spanning some forty years as a “bean counter,” I still frequently get asked to explain and demystify double-entry bookkeeping— even in this current age of highly sophisticated software and technology.
There are “those” who would have us believe that modern accounting software allows budding entrepreneurs and/or people with little or no prior knowledge of double-entry bookkeeping to maintain an accurate set of books, affording meaningful and up-to-date reports.
In my humble opinion this is simply not the case, based on a wealth of examples to the contrary,
I have heard the words “I give up” too many times. Or worse I’ve encountered such a tangled web of incorrect transactions that it becomes easier to delete the entire file and start again. In my mind, this is such an obvious example of trying to run before you can walk and it just doesn’t work!
Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t an indictment of modern technology. It is merely a tacit understanding that some questions will always resurface no matter what advances are made through technology. These questions, it seems, require a more “human” touch and a great deal of patience to resolve and I honestly believe that the true art of imparting this knowledge has not changed to this day from the time that it was first communicated to me as a rookie student back in the “sixties.”
I have made the journey from the greenest of rookies to an experienced chartered accountant, have seen vast changes in the accountancy profession and have practiced on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Putting all this “practice” to good use, I have arrived at the conclusion that a hands-on approach is required in order to unravel the mystery of double-entry bookkeeping for every would-be bookkeeper or accountant.
This can be a formal training program, or alternatively a guide that’s not too thick deterrent to the would-be reader. Many bookkeeping volumes are thick enough to double as paperweights and/or handy missiles.
On the other hand, guides need to be comprehensive enough that the reader feels empowered to create a simple set of financial statements, know the origins of the values and understand their message.
Unfortunately both of these remedies are in short supply, as the modern world seems to think that technology and software can solve everything. I’m sure there’s a marketing opportunity in there somewhere, so stay tuned, there may be more to come!