Can you trust accounting software numbers?

This topic was created by John Smith 19 .

  1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    Can you trust accounting software numbers?

    Recently I was looking at some data entered on a company accounts system. The line items on a good received note (comes with the goods) matched line items on the invoice (sent later for payment) but did match In fact it came out as 2 minor units of the local currency.

    The invoice had less than 20 items on it and added up to less then a 1000 units of the local currency.

    People who use FAE, CFD and combustion modelling programs know that their results can be suspicious due to the mathematical errors propagating through the calculation cycle 1000s of times, but I was shocked to find this happening so easily. for what is basically Sum = Sum + (Quantity x unit price) Yes they do price items at fractions of a minor currency unit IE 0.00xx /ea but should that not be accounted for in allowed accuracy of numerical entry?

    I'm pretty worried about this. However to avoid spreading FUD I'm not going to name the package or the hardware of the home currency. Yes I am based somewhere in Europe/North America but I think that's a fairly wide area. I'm sure there are various players across the region but also some strong "local" players that are probably unknown outside a few countries.

    If someone mentions the package and a similar experience I will confirm the package

    Any AC's from the Marketing department saying how this could never happen with product X will be down voted automatically.

    So is this just how real accounts packages work and it's the developers dirty little secret and I should just sit tight and not worry about it?

    Because I find that very hard to believe.

    Ladies and gentlemen the floor is yours.

    1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

      Re: Can you trust accounting software numbers?

      John Smith 19, I can't really follow your explanation - what exactly is going wrong?

    2. Hungry Sean

      Re: Can you trust accounting software numbers?

      If I'm understanding correctly, you've got fractional currency pricing and potentially units, and the tally isn't matching exactly what you calculate by hand.

      To handle these issues on a large scale, some finance and accounting packages use (and may be required to use) decimal floating point libraries. I don't know enough about your situation to say if this could be a factor or not.

    3. miket82
      Boffin

      Re: Can you trust accounting software numbers?

      In the early prehistoric days of spreadsheets I remember my budgeting numbers were always +/- 2p out. Our accountant, trained as an auditor would always bring this to my attention despite my always noting that the true figure was whatever it was below the bottom line.

      Because I could never be sure whether the 2p would be up or down I couldn't fiddle (amend) any figure because whatever numbers were entered the total was always +/- 2p.

      The danger is not with the software rather with the user who should not assume the machine is always right.

      How many time has the shop assistant said 'it must be a million because that's what my calculator says.'

      Or how about this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPbxYsWxp8A

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you're worried about this...

    ... why not raise a support ticket with the software vendor?

    (or is this a trolling exercise to get people to bitch about random account software - naming products and spreading FUD that you, um, don't want to do yourself?)

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      Re: If you're worried about this...

      I've reported it.

      It bothers me but what I'm trying to find out is wheather its SOP for all accounting packages (I'm really having trouble believing that) or specific to this system.

      What I can say is that I know as a fact that it happens with one package on one OS.

      Does it happen on others?

  3. cyclical

    Ditto on raising the issue with the vendor. I once (many years ago) used a very popular bit of accounting software that was written for the US market for my business in europe - it supported multiple currencies, but there were a couple of reports where '$' was hard coded. There isn't any software on the planet that doesn't have bugs, so don't act so surprised - it sounds like they are (erroneously) rounding some numbers too early in the calculation.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      "There isn't any software on the planet that doesn't have bugs, so don't act so surprised - it sounds like they are (erroneously) rounding some numbers too early in the calculation"

      I'm ware of that.

      But this is really basic core functionality.

      You expect trouble with the bells and whistles (or mail merge as it's known in Word IIRC) but core stuff?

  4. badra100

    I don't trust on accounting software numbers because these are not accurate.

  5. Dalkeith

    This is a massive problem with a number of professions. They haven't woken up to the fact that software is an integral part of their vocation.

    Its particularly a problem with accountancy, law, quantity surveying and a range of other professions.

    A domain specialist needs to have privileges to go through back end and double check inconsistencies such as this.

    Full credit to your diligence and attention to detail the really scary thing is when decisions are made on wrong information. Collateralised debt is our generations shining example.

    and yes tons of examples of wonky software.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019