How to organize an efficient flow of accounting documentation in the company
An important element of organizing the accounting of each company is the proper system of accounting records. Its role results from the legal obligation to document all records occurring in a given period. It is safe to say that the correct and efficient circulation of documents in a company is one of the most important (although often marginalized) aspects of running a modern enterprise. This is because it allows you to recreate individual events and check the compliance of their registration with applicable regulations, as well as to control the effects of individual operations related to the conducted activity on an ongoing basis. This has a significant impact on the organization of the work of the entire company, and thus on its financial results.
Organization of accounting records
The organization of accounting documentation includes, first of all, the development of rules for issuing (emission), control, circulation and storage of documents. Due to the fact that not all proofs (copies) are subject to recognition in the books of accounts, it is necessary to divide them into accounting vouchers and non-posting evidence. If the operation is documented with several proofs or copies of the same proof (e.g. receipt of fixed assets may be documented with proofs: OT – receipt of a fixed asset, VAT invoice, handover protocol), then a proof or a copy of this proof should be designated, which will be the basis for postings. In addition, the procedure to be followed with each copy of the evidence must be specified.
How to classify accounting documents
Due to the variety of business operations occurring in the company, documents that are different in terms of type, purpose or form are used to reproduce them.
The basis for entries in the books of accounts may be accounting vouchers:
• collective, relating to many homogeneous source evidence (e.g. a cash report including proofs of cash deposits and withdrawals, posting orders), with the total amounts being recorded,
• corrective (e.g. accounting notes, corrective VAT invoices) issued in order to correct incorrect entries,
• billing (e.g. cost breakers), which include the entries already made according to other (new) classification criteria,
• substitute, issued by the entity’s accounting and until the receipt of external evidence to replace it; if, after receiving a foreign ID, there is a difference between both documents, then a record should be made to the level consistent with that included in the foreign ID.
Documents “from a computer” and statutory requirements
Most companies keep their books by computer. Therefore, there are also certain requirements for documents generated in financial and accounting programs. Thus, entries in the books of accounts entered automatically by means of communication devices, computer data carriers or created according to an algorithm (program) on the basis of information already contained in the books are considered to be equivalent to source documents. However, they must meet certain requirements, namely:
• they can obtain a permanently legible form at any time, consistent with the content of relevant (traditional) accounting vouchers; durable form has proof that is suitable for long-term storage (e.g. CDs, microfilms, printouts on paper),
• the sources of their origin can be found and the person responsible for entering them into the computer records can be determined,
• the applied procedure ensures that the correctness of their processing as well as the completeness and identity of entries are checked,
• source data at the place of their origin are protected against destruction or change, in a manner ensuring their invariability for the period required to store a given type of accounting evidence.
The above-mentioned requirements can be met by automatic data registration, the use of numbers and checksums, identification keys, as well as the copying of media and the use of an electronic signature.
How to check an accounting document
Accounting documents confirming the performance of certain economic operations must guarantee reliable data on their actual course. Therefore, the Accounting Act specifies requirements for the correct preparation of evidence.
It is particularly important to respect the requirements of:
• formal and legal, related to the content of accounting documents,
• regarding the correctness of their preparation,
• related to the inspection of the issued evidence in terms of: formal (correctness of issuing the proof), substantive (legitimacy of the operation) and accounting (correctness of calculations by an authorized person),
• relating to the correct implementation of corrections in the event of errors.
How to prepare a document flow instruction
The requirements set out in the balance sheet law and in internal regulations regarding the principles of preparation, control and circulation of accounting documents and their archiving, together with the indication of responsible persons, should be specified in the document circulation instruction.
This manual is not a formalized document drawn up according to any valid template. The manager of each unit has to develop his own – appropriate to the needs of his company.
It is merely an internal act to explain exactly what an employee, department or structure should do to document business operations.
The rules described in the manual do not need to be in any particular form. It is a manual – so it should be written in a language that is accessible to everyone, especially new employees.
An example of a record in such an instruction may look like this:
“Secretariats (or persons keeping secretariats) accept all external documents delivered to the company’s headquarters by post or by employees of the unit. These documents should be stamped with the receipt stamp and entered into the correspondence book, giving the next number. Correspondence marked in this way is handed over – against receipt – to the appropriate organizational units. “
This provision can be made more specific by indicating, for example:
“VAT invoices related to the purchase are submitted, after registration, to the financial department, which, after initial control and inclusion in the register, passes them on to persons / departments responsible for purchases and deliveries. After these persons / departments perform a substantive control, they submit the evidence back to the financial department for formal and accounting control, approval by the chief accountant and a member of the management board, and payment. “
The manual should therefore explain exactly what to do with which document:
• who is to accept it,
• how to mark it,
• where and when to submit it.
The instructions also include persons (most often defined by position) authorized to receive, prepare and sign individual accounting documents, to control them and to issue forms of strict accounting. The manual may also include employees’ responsibilities arising from their work with documents.
It may also contain provisions regarding the requirements as to the content of individual accounting documents. Comments regarding completeness, reliability and clarity of documents should be included there. Instructions on how to describe such a document, how to use abbreviations and symbols that replace names. If business operations are documented with two or more pieces of evidence or copies of the same document, the head of unit in the instruction specifies the document (a copy), which will be the basis for making the entry.
In large units, the instruction should specify the methods of documenting operations in various organizational units, the routes of their circulation, as well as the organizational tools used (e.g. schedules or schedules).
Qualifying accounting documents
Before being registered in the books of accounts, accounting documents should be segregated and checked in terms of content, form and accounting.
Segregation is aimed at isolating documents that are subject to records, and then combining them into homogeneous groups, such as e.g. bank, warehouse and purchase receipts. Within a homogeneous group, evidence is compiled according to the dates of operations, banks, types of bank accounts (e.g. current, auxiliary, term deposits – if the entity has several) or counterparties. The segregated accounting vouchers are then provided with symbols and numbers that allow to check the completeness of a given set of them included in the books of accounts.
Before being assigned, the accounting vouchers are subject to substantive, formal and accounting control. It should be made visible by specifying the date and signatures of the verifying persons in the accounting documents.
After checking the completeness and correctness of accounting documents issued in the reporting period, their assignment is performed. It consists in placing in an accounting voucher an instruction (called a decree) to include it on the accounts of the general ledger, auxiliary books or off-balance sheet accounts.
The legislator imposes an obligation to assign accounting vouchers by indicating the month and the method of recognition in the books, if it does not result from the recording technique.
It is possible to omit to include data on signatures and qualification of the evidence for inclusion in the books, if they result from the technique of documenting accounting entries.
The accounting is done by the chief accountant or a person authorized by him. Usually a special stamp is used for this purpose. Including the above-mentioned data in the decree is favorable for linking source documents with accounting entries. Entering the symbol and number in the journal entry allows you to reach the underlying source document.
Examples of document markings
1) Purchase invoice:
FVZ (document symbol) 135 (sequence number) / 06 (year of operation)
2) Invoice correcting the purchase:
3) Sales invoice:
4) Calculation of depreciation:
After posting, the accounting vouchers are stored (archived) for the applicable period, in a way that makes them easy to find. The requirements in this respect are specified in Chapter 8 of the Accounting Act.