Intacct: CLA Grants Application and Revenue Recognition
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to go to a single module in your accounting system and have it do everything for you? You’d probably be wondering what you would do with all that extra time. I find it exciting to be able to create an app that takes a multi-step process into one logical step that then does everything else. Automation is the future. It can’t replace everything, sure, but it can take a full-time data entry person’s job and reduce that to half their time allowing for time to spend on reporting to drive the business or other higher level tasks.
I must admit my favorite part of building apps is figuring out the answer to this question:
How do you build an application that makes a process more efficient, while also ensuring it’s ease of use from the user experience standpoint (so they actually use and like it!)?
A good example of an app UI change that improved efficiency is SalesForce Lightning’s Opportunity Kanban view. (If you don’t know what this is or haven’t used it yet the idea is that it allows you to take an opportunity in a certain stage and drag and drop it from within the Kanban view thus changing the status of the opportunity.) I saw this for the first time at the Lightning Global Tour when they were at UCSD in San Diego and it reinforces the idea that apps should always be built with the end user in mind. You want to achieve increased efficiency of course, but it’s never going to catch on if no one enjoys using it.
In building the grants management application, that was exactly the mindset. You want it to do everything someone managing grants needs to do in a easy to use, efficient manner. One challenge I faced was incorporating revenue recognition into the module. The goal was to be able to easily recognize revenue for multi-year grants from the grant itself. I was stuck on how to accomplish this without basically replicating a process which already exists natively in Intacct. If you’re going to have to create the header and then lines, you may as well just go over to the AR Invoice screen and do it there. I’m not doing the user any favors by including the same functionality into the app. My solution, while technically a bit dizzying to accomplish, was to make it better than the AR Invoice screen. How? I can’t give away all secrets but I can give a preview of just how it works!
Upon entering the grant, you enter the following fields:
- Grant Amount
- Grant No of Years
- Grant Start Date
- Grant End Date
Based on that, you have a few buttons that make the process easier than if you were to do the same thing in the AR Invoice screen.
Button #1: Increment Dates
Based on the Grant’s Start Date and the Number of Years you enter, this button when pushed increments the dates in the fields below to create the installment due dates.
Button #2: Split Installments Evenly
Based on the Grant Amount and the Number of Years you enter, this button when pushed splits the amount into even installments for each year.
Button #3: Apply GL Accounts to All Lines
Based on the GL Account you choose in the field above, this button automatically applies it to all lines below.
If I then save the grant and click to Create AR Invoices, it creates all invoices for me in one swoop! Of course there’s complicated things going on behind the scenes to make this happen but it makes it much simpler than creating multiple invoices to recognize the revenue and record expected installments.
Even better, the app actually knows that if you put the same dates in the first two lines, to group those on the same invoice (maybe part of the revenue is restricted and part is not). That was the most challenging part, but it works like a charm.
Added bonus! You have all the invoices attached to your grant there for you to view whether they’ve been paid or not and easily see when they are due.
The app even allows you to create the dimensions you need to track grant and grantors with just 2 button clicks. (Additionally, upon setup you have the ability to choose which dimensions it should create. This means, even if you are live and already using Intacct, the app will slide right into your company and match your configurations). I’ll save that for another day!