In a non-automated accounting system, the processing of data on business transactions is easily traced and is usually accompanied by documents on paper – orders, orders, accounts and accounting registers, for example, endless inventory registers. Similar documents are often used in a computer system, but in many cases they exist only in electronic form. Moreover, the main accounting documents (accounting books and journals) in a computer accounting system are data files that cannot be read or changed without a computer.
Elements of a computer system
Hardware. These are the devices that make up a computer, such as the central processing unit, hard drive, CD-ROM drive, printers, network cards, and the like.
Software. System programs. These programs that perform general functions usually include operating systems that manage hardware and allocate its resources for maximum efficiency, database management systems (DBMS) that provide standard data processing functions, and utility programs that run on a computer.
Service operations, for example, checking and configuring individual nodes of hardware-software interaction. System programs are usually developed by hardware vendors or software firms and modified to suit individual requirements.
Application (user) programs are sets of machine instructions for solving user problems that the user organization develops on its own or purchases from an external supplier.
Documentation – description of the system and control structure (input, processing and output of data, message processing, control commands). Personnel – employees who manage the system, design it and supply programs, operate and control the data processing system.
Data – the necessary information that is entered, stored and processed in the system (for example, information about business transactions). Control procedures – in the context of accounting, these are procedures that ensure the correct recording of operations, warning or recording errors.
Features of computer data processing
The way in which business transactions are processed in accounting has a significant impact on the organizational structure of the company, as well as on the procedures and methods of internal control. Computer technology is characterized by a number of features that should be taken into account when assessing the conditions and control procedures. Below are the differences between computer data processing and non-automated.
Uniform execution of operations. Computer processing involves the use of the same commands when performing identical accounting operations, which virtually eliminates the occurrence of random errors that are usually inherent in manual processing. On the contrary, software errors (or other systematic errors in hardware or software) result in incorrect processing of all identical operations under the same conditions.
Separation of functions. A computer system can perform many internal control procedures that are performed by different specialists in manual systems. This situation leaves professionals with access to the computer free to interfere with other functions.
As a result, computer systems may require the introduction of additional measures to maintain the level of control that is achieved in manual systems by simple separation of functions. Such measures may include a password system that prevents actions that are not allowed by specialists who have access to information about assets and accounting documents through the terminal in an on-line mode.
Potential for errors and inaccuracies. Compared to manual accounting systems, computer systems are more open to unauthorized access, including by those in control. They are also open to covert modification of data and direct or indirect acquisition of information about assets.
The less human intervention in the machine processing of accounting transactions, the lower the possibility of detecting errors and inaccuracies. Errors made in the development or correction of application programs may go unnoticed for a long period.
Potential opportunities for increased control by the administration. Computer systems provide management with a wide range of analytical tools that allow them to evaluate and control the activities of the company. The presence of additional tools ensures the strengthening of the internal control system as a whole and, thus, reduces the risk of its inefficiency.
So, the results of the usual comparison of the actual values of the cost ratio with the planned ones, as well as the reconciliation of accounts, come to the administration more regularly when computer processing of information. In addition, some application programs collect statistical information about the operation of the computer, which can be used to monitor the actual progress of the processing of accounting transactions.
Initiating the execution of operations on the computer. A computer system can perform some operations automatically, and their authorization is not necessarily documented, as is done in manual accounting systems, since the very fact that such a system is accepted by the administration implicitly implies the presence of appropriate sanctions.