Interfacing with real-life human accountants

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J. B. Rainsberger

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May 18, 2023, 3:39:20 PM5/18/23
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Hi, folks. I couldn't find answers with some web searching, so I'm here.

I like hledger and have been using it to manage the very modest financial records of an organization for whom I volunteer. Since I've not needed to share this information with other people in any particular format, I've liked my experience.

Now I'm contemplating using this for my company's financial records. I want to escape QuickBooks forever. I have real-life accountants to deal with. I don't know what software they use, but it's some industrial strength double-entry bookkeeping system of some kind. I feel intimidated by the idea of trying to share data with them.

Does anyone here do this? What do you do? Can it be as simple as exporting a CSV file with all the transactions posted within a certain time period and handing it to the accountants for them to figure out how to import into their system? I could imagine that being a nightmare. Is it? If yes, then is there something I can do to soften the blow?

Thanks.

Simon Michael

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May 18, 2023, 3:52:43 PM5/18/23
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Welcome, J.B. 

It's definitely helpful if you're comfortable writing little scripts to convert between formats, but yes, I think it could be as simple as exporting CSV. Most financial people use Excel and can just drag the file in there. Other apps will often have some way to import CSV.

The print command's CSV is most complete, covering all accounts. But it's hard to consume because there's one record per posting. It can also produce JSON output, which is the most complete and consumable (by custom software) export format.

I would say aregister is usually best for exporting transactions to humans and standard software, one account (tree) at a time:
hledger areg ACCT -o acct.csv

Reports like is and bs can also be exported as CSV, or as HTML: https://hledger.org/report-examples.html#income-statement-2012-01-012014-10-11



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Francesco Ariis

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May 18, 2023, 3:55:15 PM5/18/23
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Hello JB,

Il 18 maggio 2023 alle 09:30 J. B. Rainsberger ha scritto:
> I like hledger and have been using it to manage the very modest financial
> records of an organization for whom I volunteer. […]
>
> Now I'm contemplating using this for my company's financial records. I want
> to escape QuickBooks forever. I have real-life accountants to deal with. I
> don't know what software they use, but it's some industrial strength
> double-entry bookkeeping system of some kind. I feel intimidated by the
> idea of trying to share data with them.
>
> Does anyone here do this? What do you do? Can it be as simple as exporting
> a CSV file with all the transactions posted within a certain time period
> and handing it to the accountants for them to figure out how to import into
> their system?

If they are accountants they are used to import an array of different cvs
files. I don’t believe hledger csv would be any more difficult for them
to parse.

If you can, ask them! I am sure they would be supportive of a
client/colleague who groks DEA
—F

Simon Michael

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May 18, 2023, 3:56:05 PM5/18/23
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PS and if you know of some custom format they need, you can write a script to generate it. It needn't be in Haskell, but here's a template for a Haskell script that could potentially access any and all data:




Diego Depaoli

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May 18, 2023, 5:22:31 PM5/18/23
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From the perspective of a real-life accountant, I simply would say you no. I had only bad experiences. Every time someone shared his records with me, I had to do badly paid quadruple work to reconcile everything.
You must keep together tax and civil laws and a good double-entry bookkeeping is mandatory but not enough.

Last but not least every commercial software I tried has the option to import CSV files, usually it is poorly supported and if you're facing some issue don't expect much help.

My kind regards

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Diego Depaoli

J. B. Rainsberger

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May 19, 2023, 1:01:31 PM5/19/23
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On Thursday, 18 May 2023 at 18:22:31 UTC-3 Diego Depaoli wrote:
 
From the perspective of a real-life accountant, I simply would say you no. I had only bad experiences. Every time someone shared his records with me, I had to do badly paid quadruple work to reconcile everything.

Does this happen because you receive records which are arranged in a way that is excessively complicated? or does this happen because you receive records where the association between entries is not made clear?

When you say "badly-paid quadruple work to reconcile everything", is that because you need to rediscover the relationship between entries or because you are missing details that would help you understand what those records mean?
 
You must keep together tax and civil laws and a good double-entry bookkeeping is mandatory but not enough.

Could you provide one or two examples of the ways in which double-entry book-keeping is not enough?

Last but not least every commercial software I tried has the option to import CSV files, usually it is poorly supported and if you're facing some issue don't expect much help.

This concerns me the most. I don't work directly with typical accounting software, so I don't know how to anticipate the problems that they might encounter with importing from CSV. I also don't know how eager I am to learn those things. :)

Thank you for your help so far.

Diego Depaoli

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May 22, 2023, 8:20:49 AM5/22/23
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Il giorno ven 19 mag 2023 alle ore 19:01 J. B. Rainsberger <jbrain...@gmail.com> ha scritto:
On Thursday, 18 May 2023 at 18:22:31 UTC-3 Diego Depaoli wrote:
 
From the perspective of a real-life accountant, I simply would say you no. I had only bad experiences. Every time someone shared his records with me, I had to do badly paid quadruple work to reconcile everything.

Does this happen because you receive records which are arranged in a way that is excessively complicated? or does this happen because you receive records where the association between entries is not made clear?

When you say "badly-paid quadruple work to reconcile everything", is that because you need to rediscover the relationship between entries or because you are missing details that would help you understand what those records mean?
 
You must keep together tax and civil laws and a good double-entry bookkeeping is mandatory but not enough.

Could you provide one or two examples of the ways in which double-entry book-keeping is not enough?

Answer to all questions above.

When you insert an entry you have to obey the double-entry book-keeping syntax and the tax rules
To validate a simple record 
expenses:someexpense at liabilities:genericsupplier 
you must check if someexpense:
- concerns the right fiscal year 
- is deductible or not
- it is not an assets
....
not to mention the TVA rules.
....
often to do those checks requires almost the same time than to make the whole job, but it is hardly billable.
And I'm speaking about a well done accountancy which sometimes it is not and you cannot know it in advance.

 

Last but not least every commercial software I tried has the option to import CSV files, usually it is poorly supported and if you're facing some issue don't expect much help.

This concerns me the most. I don't work directly with typical accounting software, so I don't know how to anticipate the problems that they might encounter with importing from CSV. I also don't know how eager I am to learn those things. :)
I think CSV parsers/importers are children of a lesser god for reasons similar to those i wrote above. 
Even in this case, if you run into such race condition it is not so easy to bill the time to fix it 

My kind regards
 

Thank you for your help so far.

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