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Accounting Best Practices, Fifth Edition by Steven M. Bragg Englewood, Colorado

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5–20. Reduce the Number of Accounts

Some budget models are astoundingly complex because there are so many account line items in which to record budgeting information. This is nearly always the fault of the controller, who has allowed the chart of accounts to grow to an excessive degree. Once there are too many accounts in the general ledger, it becomes obligatory to budget for the contents of each one. This presents the dual problems of adding new lines to the budget every year, and of forcing managers to do extra analysis to determine the budgeted amounts for the upcoming year.

The solution is to eliminate as many accounts as possible from the chart of accounts. This takes a long time, since one must be careful to shift account balances to surviving accounts, verify that inactivated accounts are not used for some special purpose, and confirm that there will be no impact on the resulting financial reports. Given the intricacies of eliminating accounts, it is usually best to do so in small groups of just a few per month, with an overall reduction in the number of accounts taking as long as a year to complete. Once this is done, it is a simple matter to eliminate the same accounts from the budget.

Another approach that is not only quicker, but also bypasses the need for a lengthy reduction in the chart of accounts, is to eliminate the accounts in the budget model, but to keep them in the actual chart of accounts. This option will result in no budget in the upcoming budget period ...

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