Accountology vs Accounting. The rules of computer accounting and the consequences of non-compliance
I have been engaged in accounting methodology for a long time - almost twenty years. It began with attempts to overcome the errors of accounting methodology, which corrupted their eyes with absurdities, and ended with the creation of a discipline called accountutology, which includes, as one of the sections, the theory of computer accounting.
Allow me to propose several rules of computer accounting as part of a training course in accountology, so that they do not look too elementary, give examples of their malicious violation in accounting practice. On Habré there are many specialists who happened to automate bookkeeping, I hope that the "miracles" of the accounting methodology will seem interesting to them. Should people be aware of how much outdated methodology they automate?
Rule A.As objects, homogeneous entities are registered.
You can take things into account, either natural phenomena or abstract concepts - anything, but it is completely impossible to take into account heterogeneous entities together, in the form of homogeneous accounting objects in a single information system.
Why? Yes, because accounting is a model of the real world in which things, phenomena and abstract concepts are concepts of different semantic levels that it would never occur to anyone to compare. Is it possible to compare a cow with milk yield, although the latter is directly related to the cow? Cow and milk yield may well be reflected in one information system, but in different ways - for this there is an accounting methodology, among other things.
How widely does the current accounting methodology comply with this rule? Let's get a look.
The initial task of accounting is to record things used in business activities. However, together with things, as objects of equal rights with them, many objects are reflected in accounting accounts that cannot be counted as things. For example, intangible assets. Intangible assets in accounting mean software and databases, as well as copyrights to works of art, legal rights to inventions, and also trademarks. I am absolutely not opposed to taking into account all of the above entities (very diverse even within the framework of the list of intangible assets, I note), but one cannot take into account the thing, information and legal law in one row! And accounting takes into account.
If you think that only intangible assets are registered as homogeneous with things, you are mistaken. Clouds of such objects. The double entry, on which modern (ha ha!) Bookkeeping is based, involves the registration of so-called net worth, which is a calculated value, that is, an abstract arithmetic concept.
Equity is not at all the totality of some useful things in the economy (first, the economic meaning of the term “capital”), but something completely different. Imagine that you have two material objects, let’s say X and Y. At the same time, it is known that X is Y = Z. In this situation, Z is the calculated value that is not necessary to register as an object in the information system, since it can at any moment to be calculated. There is no Z in reality, it is an abstraction! But double-entry bookkeeping, imagine, registers a whole group of objects attributable to equity, and without this registration it simply ceases to exist. In other words, registration of non-existent objects is a way of double-entry bookkeeping.
There are other entities registered on a par with material objects. Accounting for a cow and milk yield as equal objects is a common phenomenon in accounting; you will see this for sure.
Rule B . The object should be identified: the real object must be distinguishable from similar objects of reality, and its prototype in the information system must have a unique identifier.
It cannot be said that bookkeeping does not seek to identify both real and informational objects — it seeks, only it does not always work out. The reasons lie in the field of methodology.
Let me give you an example well known to accountants, but perhaps out of the reach of automation.
In domestic accounting, methods of the so-called assessment of retirement are used: FIFO and average cost, there used to be the LIFO method (now actually canceled), in foreign accounting the methods of HIFO and LOFO are used, and some others, it seems. What kind of garbage is this and, most importantly, why was it needed if the objects are evaluated upon receipt: as a rule, at actual or standard cost? Why did I need a retirement assessment?
Here, several errors in the accounting methodology are superimposed on one another, but ultimately everything is determined by the inability to identify a real object. In practice, the situation is as follows.
A part arrives at the warehouse, which the storekeeper folds to identical parts. The details are actually identical, with the only difference being that they were purchased at different prices, at which they are accounted for in accounting (what is called: take into account at actual cost). For the storekeeper, the details are identical, but not for the accountant, because they have different values. Here, the part is transferred to production or to the buyer, and the accountant is faced with a problem, which particular part has left, because the parts are not identified in the warehouse: the storekeeper released the required part according to the document, but at what cost? The answer directly affects the financial result: the profit or loss attributable to accounting.
To solve this specific problem, there are FIFO and other methods of assessment on disposal. The law prescribes to the accountant, as it were: to hell with it, with a real detail, you proceed from the fact that you dropped out as if ... followed by an indication of the object that should be considered as the dropped out, or a way to evaluate the dropped out object.
Here, the accounting methodology does not copy reality, for the reflection of which it seems to be intended, but, on the contrary, regulates the discrepancy between reality and the information system. We can say that the regulation is forced, but we can complain about the lack of identification of real-world objects. It’s wise to solve such an identification problem to the automatator, of course, but he must understand that the solution lies not only in writing the ideal program code, but also in organizing the general trade turnover, and indeed - what an ambiguous business he has plunged into.
As a rule . An object is indicated by an identifier and is characterized by features.
Seems to be easier? An object is indicated by an identifier, which in itself does not mean anything, but only allows you to distinguish one object from another. To account for the entire diversity of the object, there are signs - the actual characteristics of the object.
A variant is possible when the identification is determined by one or more features defining a unique object, but the case is not the same in accounting: business entities that it takes into account may have identical features, therefore they require an identifier. The accounting methodology does not provide them with, but uses the category of quantity: it turns out that unique objects are determined by unique attributes, but they can exist in the number of many copies, or in the form of a variable population estimated in physical meters (mass, volume, etc.). ) The object does not exist as an object “in itself”, but in the form of a constantly increasing or decreasing unit (though this does not apply to all things taken into account, but to the majority - those that are called objects of labor in the economy).
This will not seem to someone a misfortune, but it should not be like that, and would not have happened if each of the objects being taken into account was assigned an identifier. If this does not matter, then at least weirdness.
However, non-compliance with rule B leads to more serious consequences, for example, to the chart of accounts - the main accounting document. A chart of accounts is a list of features that characterize objects, and the list is hierarchical, although there are no special reasons for applying hierarchy.
The fact that an object can be characterized and, as a rule, is characterized by many features, means the fact that the features are equally equal among themselves and as applied to individual objects. Roughly speaking, if objects are characterized by color, then each object is characterized by one or another color (or its absence - colorlessness), while the color is equal with other characteristics used, for example, with taste. However, the chart of accounts is based on a hierarchy of characteristics. This is theoretically possible, but rational only if the characteristics do not repeat on different branches of the hierarchy, which cannot be attributed to accounting. The result is methodological errors of the kind that, according to one feature — those that are present in the singular tree — it is easy to sample, and for the rest, scattered on the branches of the hierarchy in a multitude, it becomes difficult to select, since the hierarchical system is adapted to walk up and down the hierarchy, and not to jump from one branch to another like a flying squirrel. In any case, I think so.
The hierarchical system of signs is a special case of a flat system, which, in a good way, should be applied in accounting. Tell me which way is more natural for the Chart of Accounts: to calculate account balances (that is, at the top level of the hierarchy) or balances according to the so-called analytical characteristics, provided that they characterize several accounts (for example, for all things of the 1st grade, regardless , what are these things and on what accounts are taken into account)? Accounting software is trained to cope with complex samples, but here we are not talking about software, but about accounting methodology. If the signs were equal, it would be absolutely indifferent for which of the required signs to generate reporting indicators.
Rule G. Signs may not contradict each other.
More than hierarchical, the Chart of Accounts is unsatisfactory in semantics, although the automation engineers try not to go into these details.
It is well known (although not generally accepted) that any information system cannot exist in itself, but must contain something that goes beyond its own limits. In the accounting information system, as in many others, this beyond is the thesaurus used in the system. The signs that characterize the objects and which make up the content of the information system are just terms with certain meanings that the user of the system perceives as is, on the basis of his mind and experience. In the system itself, semantics are not defined: it can be partially defined (for example, an enterprise can be characterized not only by its identifier name, but also by registration codes, bank details, etc.), but never completely. This means that an accounting information system is representable, designed from the point of view of the internal structure perfectly, without the slightest error and contradiction, but it is absolutely inoperative due to the fact that it contains errors of external semantics. Well, it’s understandable that if the signs that characterize accounting objects — all these accounting classifications — are made out of hand, by definition nothing good will come of it!
I affirm with competence: accounting classifications are precisely composed. For example, according to the Chart of Accounts, the “Materials” account contains a sub-account “Raw materials”. In other words, “Raw Materials” constitute a subset of the “Materials”, and not the other way around - is it really surprising anyone? And there are not a few such errors in verbal accounting formulations, and not even dozens, but hundreds: for each of about seventy of the accounts of accounts indicated in the Chart of Account, there are several similar philological mistakes, which makes the accounting system meaningless. I believe that if you ever tried to “enter” not into automated, but into “accounting” bookkeeping, then you were quickly convinced of this.
Automate or do not automate a system that is defective at the level of external semantics, to create something normally functioning still will not work.
Rule D. The relationship between the registered source samples is displayed as the relationship between the corresponding accounting objects.
Under the original samples we mean the objects of surrounding reality that serve as prototypes for the objects of the information system - accounting objects.
This rule sounds at first incomprehensible, and after the example is given, it is silly. An example is this: if two apples of red color are registered in the information system - or one apple of red color, and the second one is green, it doesn’t matter - then to determine the relationship between registered apples on this basis, there is no need to register anything else. A comparison of the values itself will show either a match (apples of the same color) or a mismatch (apples of different colors).
An exaggerated example - failure to fulfill this rule in practice is more difficult.
Take a sale (goods for money). The named objects - goods and money - are connected by the exchange ratio, which, in accordance with the accepted accounting methodology, should be fixed in the accounting record: debit (receipt) of Money, credit (expense) of the Goods. In this case, money is characterized by the fact that it was received for the goods, and the goods are characterized by the fact that they dropped out in exchange for money. There is no need to make other manipulations with objects ... it would seem. And no! In practice, between the money and the goods, a strange object called Realization is wedged in, as a result of which not one accounting record is obtained, but two: Money debit, Sale credit; and Sales debit, Goods credit. Sometimes this artificial phenomenon is explained by the different cost of objects interconnected within the operation, supposedly, the amount of profit must be attributed to the financial result, for which purpose the Realization account. This is nonsense: it is possible to attribute profit to a financial result without invented objects, - Implementation is not needed.
You see, yes: here we take into account a cow in the amount of 1 piece, we take into account milk milk in the amount of 15 liters (which is logical, because the cow and milk are the things present in reality), and with them, literally in the same stall with the cow - milk yield 105 liters per week?
What can I say to that ?! The accounting methodology is so neglected that errors force each other and overlap one another, so in the end it becomes difficult to determine which rules are violated. Still, because the age of accounting is at least five hundred years, and most likely twice as much!
Rule E. The relationship between the registered source sample and the non-registered sample is displayed as a sign of the registered sample.
If both objects are registered, as provided for in the previous rule, there is no problem. However, not all things of the surrounding reality are registered in accounting. What if the information system needs to display the relationship of the registered object to the unregistered?
Suppose there is a kilogram standard and there is another thing that weighs 3 kilograms, which is clarified by comparatively weighing the thing and the standard. If you register a weighing operation in the information system, then between the two objects - the thing and the standard - an appropriate relationship will arise: to characterize the thing somehow otherwise is no longer needed. But if the standard is not registered in the system, then it will be possible to set the weight of a thing only as a sign. "3 kg" - a sign of things and nothing else. In this case, there will be no need to register comparative weighting, which, however, is still impossible due to the fact that in this case the standard is not registered in the information system.
In accounting, there is a need to take into account the object at a second cost. The object is estimated at 100 rubles, but it is necessary - well, it is desperately necessary, you know ?! - take it into account even 110 rubles. What seemed easier? Introduce an additional feature into the system, and the whole short period ... However, the accounting methodology does not allow this - for whatever reasons, it doesn’t matter, we won’t stop there. We have to get out of the situation in a non-standard way, namely by registering another object, which does not mean anything that exists in reality, but represents the so-called cost difference. In the above example, an object, the so-called regulatory, will be valued at 10 rubles. As a result, two objects will be registered: one worth 100 rubles, and the second worth 10 rubles. How this will allow you to evaluate the first object at 110 rubles., as required by the condition of the problem? Elementary: the amount of 100 and 10 rubles. will give the desired 110 rubles. - that is, to evaluate the object at the second cost (characteristics of the object on a new basis), a new object is registered. Thus, one real thing begins to correspond to two objects of the information system: the main object plus an additional one, in the form of a cost difference for the main object. At the same time, the resulting regulatory framework is by no means a part of the thing, but its attribute registered as an independent object. A sign registered as an object! Thus, one real thing begins to correspond to two objects of the information system: the main object plus an additional one, in the form of a cost difference for the main object. At the same time, the resulting regulatory framework is by no means a part of the thing, but its attribute registered as an independent object. A sign registered as an object! Thus, one real thing begins to correspond to two objects of the information system: the main object plus an additional one, in the form of a cost difference for the main object. At the same time, the resulting regulatory framework is by no means a part of the thing, but its attribute registered as an independent object. A sign registered as an object!
I say there is no limit to accounting miracles.
The accountology formulated by me is not limited to these rules, it is much wider (some materials were published on Habré, for example, here ). In this post, I only intended to compare the accounting rules with accounting practice, showing how absurd the current accounting methodology is from the point of view of computer accounting. Unfortunately, many IT specialists do not understand this, trying to replace the accounting methodology with the art of programming. However, writing program code does not mean automating bookkeeping; automation is a deeper concept, which includes not only the use of computer technology, but also the methodological methods of registration suitable for this.