5 Critical Reports Every Business Should Have – Critical Report #1: General Ledger Distribution

This is the first in a series looking at the five critical reports every business needs, but most businesses can’t get from their payroll service. Today we’ll discuss the general ledger distribution report.

Have you ever wondered why general ledger reports aren’t a standard part of your payroll service’s package? The general ledger is the backbone of any business accounting system, so there’s definitely a need for such a report. However, even though the need is universal, the general ledgers of different companies are as varied as snowflakes in their design. A standard general ledger report could never accommodate the needs of a servicer’s disparate clients, which leaves you either writing your own, or paying extra for a custom report.

A general ledger distribution report is critical for any business, but obtaining one through a payroll service is difficult, and cost-prohibitive. The ability to easily create a custom report — or have someone do it for you at a reasonable cost — is one of the biggest reasons that our clients decide that they are ready to take control of their own payroll.

General Ledgers are Standard, Reports Are Not

Does your company organize its general ledger by account number, cost center, department, or some other organizational level? That decision is usually made in conjunction with your outside accounting firm, CFO, or comptroller. It’s a give-and-take that considers your company’s organizational and auditing needs, which is why your general ledger probably isn’t organized like that of other companies.

The fact that general ledgers vary so much comes as a surprise to a number of our clients. They’re initially puzzled by how difficult it is to get such a report from a payroll service. Once we explain to them that even though general ledgers are standard, general ledger distribution reports can’t be. That’s when they understand why their servicer couldn’t hand them a ready-made one.

Writing a report you can actually use

Many payroll services have an interface which allows you access to these data, but our experience is that company personnel want a report, as well. Of course, even if you wrestle with their cumbersome report writer, or just buckle down and buy a custom report from your servicer, it’s probably going to be in an immutable form. Whether on paper, or in a PDF, standard payroll reports are look, but not touch. We’ve any seen some cases where the report can be exported to Excel — but what you get is a picture of the report embedded in the spreadsheet.

You may need to see the “big picture” for your company, but this probably isn’t what you mean by that.

The report writer of choice for Sage Abra in-house payroll systems is Crystal. It’s a boon for our clients because:

  • The interface is much easier to understand than the code-heavy report writers available through most servicers,
  • Experienced Crystal writers can easily be hired or developed, and
  • The data remain in a useful format, because you control your data.

We use Crystal because it empowers our clients to work with whomever they choose. Nevertheless, general ledger distribution reports are among the most-requested ones we create on behalf of our clients. We tailor these reports to your needs as carefully as we customize every aspect of your payroll system.

Questions to ask

If you’re still not sure if it makes sense to leave your payroll service behind, ask yourself these questions:

1.Do I have a satisfactory general ledger distribution report?

2.Does that report come in a format, such as paper, that would require the data be manually transcribed? If so, do I know how much the transcription costs, and what the error rate is?

3.Does the report we use support our business intelligence goals?

If there are doubts in your mind, contact us to learn more about how we can put those doubts to rest.

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