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What to learn of Accounting & Auditing?

I want to start learning about accounting so I can better communicate with our accounting group on some future applications I will be writing. The business being supported by this accounting system is not huge, in the 50M a year range if that makes any difference in what type of learning I need to do. The components I will be working on seem to be simple accounting, dispersments, general ledgers, balance sheets, and costing.

I would then like to learn about how to audit an existing financial system. My question is how does one test the quality of a companies books and systems?

I am looking for some books or websites where I can start to learn about these subjects. Any books that have a bent for IT would be fantastic. Thanks for any advice or pointers.

Jeff
Monday, April 12, 2004

Why does all of a sudden everyone think JoS is an accounting forum?  First stock option expensing, now this...

To answer your question, you really should talk to a CPA who can give you solid, current info. Yeah the CPA will charge you, but at least you won't have to deal with your incompetency in accounting. If you have your company or other clients riding on the back of your software, I'd recommend not being cheap and going the way of "let me read a few books and learn this crap".

IT bent accounting book? Never heard of that one.

As I said, your best bet is to talk to a CPA. Better yet, you should keep in touch with that CPA as you develop the program to make sure you are on the right track.
Accounting is just like doing taxes. There are about a million rules and pitfalls. The bookkeeping stuff is mostly easy, but you need (lots of) help with auditing. It is not as clear cut as you seem to be thinking it is.

grunt
Monday, April 12, 2004

Actually, if you are writing the application for a specific group, I would *strongly* urge you to use the members of that group as your primary resource. Ask somebody if they would be willing to spend an hour of their time (just to start) walking through various aspects of things to help educate you. They would probably love to do it -- most people love to talk about their work, and I bet they'd be flattered that someone in another group actually cares about what they do. Also, it will give you insight into how things work with your specific target market, not just the generalities you'd probably get from a textbook.

Perhaps most importantly, you'll begin forging a relationship that could help you build a stronger product, because the users (or at least people related to or similar to the users) will already trust you a bit, and you will know them a bit, and this will dramatically smooth communications.

John C.
Monday, April 12, 2004

Any auditing subject at a university will be 'bent' towards IT. In fact the auditing subject that I did was pretty much all IT, and most auditors now days need to have a very good understanding of the IT field.

When I studied auditing we used a book called 'Accoutning Information Systems' by Romney, Steinbart & Cushing.

Read that front to back will give you a good understanding of where auditing meets IT.

Aussie Chick
Monday, April 12, 2004

As for general accounting, you need only do a basic Accounting 101 type course and that will cover general ledgers, journals, debits & credits etc.

Otherwise any basic accounting book from a university bookstore will cover this.

Have you tried MIT Opencourseware?
http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Sloan-School-of-Management/15-515Fall2003/CourseHome/index.htm

Buy the textbook and spend a couple of weekends working through these...

Aussie Chick
Monday, April 12, 2004

As a preface to everything else, before you touch a single requirement or line of code, you MUST understand accrual vs. cash methods of accounting.
Basically because that decision can screw everything else up. [grin]

Philo

Philo
Monday, April 12, 2004

Thanks for the advice. I have looked at the Sloan open course information and it seemed too high level. I am going to try and browse through more of the open course info at MIT and see if there is a more general class hidden somewhere. I might just take an Accounting 101 type class at night, it seems to be an important enough area to warrant the time spent in class.

I have several CPAs on the payroll that I can call on while I am writing the applications, however this time of the year they are VERY busy and VERY grumpy. They do not specalize in the audits of a financial system, nor do they have any technical expertise other then how to use Excel, Quick Books and espn.com. So for now I figure I can do some reading at night and get a leg up on the lingo etc. help make my time with them as fruitful as possible.

Thanks for the info.

Jeff
Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Just a comment on the 'high levels' of some courses.

Every course has to start somewhere, (ie kids doing a bachelor of accounting still have to do an accounting101 unit).

And trust me on this, that single accounting101 unit is pretty much the only unit every used in a public accounting firm. The other units are just getting into the nitty gritty (ie everybody needs to memorise the international accounting standards...etc)

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Aussie Chick,

Thanks for the info. The 101 course is looking more and more temping.

Jeff
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

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