Local Unit Financial Statement Part two

Discuss questions around local unit policies for budgeting, reconciling, etc. This forum should not contain specific financial or membership information.
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childsdj
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Local Unit Financial Statement Part two

Postby childsdj » Tue Aug 11, 2009 3:05 pm

We had a previous thread (http://tech.lds.org/forum/showthread.php?t=3410) for input into the new look and feel of the Church Unit Financial Statement. The project has taken your input and asked for additional input. I have posted two different proposed statements. Please feel free to constructively voice your opinion for one or the other or give additional feedback on how either one could be improved. :)
Attachments
CUBS_Unit Financial Statement by income summary with YTD.docx
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CUBS_Unit Financial Statement by category with YTD.docx
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russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Tue Aug 11, 2009 3:50 pm

Same files rendered as PDF for those who don't have Word 2007 :)
Attachments
CUBS_Unit Financial Statement by category with YTD[1].pdf
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CUBS_Unit Financial Statement by income summary with YTD[1].pdf
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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Tue Aug 11, 2009 3:56 pm

DJC wrote:We had a previous thread (http://tech.lds.org/forum/showthread.php?t=3410) for input into the new look and feel of the Church Unit Financial Statement. The project has taken your input and asked for additional input. I have posted two different proposed statements. Please feel free to constructively voice your opinion for one or the other or give additional feedback on how either one could be improved. :)


I probably lean a bit towards the summary option, if I had to choose, since it doesn't mess up the reconciliation process quite as badly as the category option does.

But as several people indicated in the previous thread, they are both a huge step backwards in terms of reconciliation. Have you actually had real clerks run through the reconciliation process with these statements? I think it would be eye-opening.

One of the main purposes of the statement is reconciliation (I would say it is the primary purpose). Practically every element of the statement should be designed in a way that facilitates reconciliation. These new statements seem to have done the opposite; to my eye, the reconciliation process wasn't even considered in their design.

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Postby RossEvans » Tue Aug 11, 2009 5:59 pm

Alan_Brown wrote:But as several people indicated in the previous thread, they are both a huge step backwards in terms of reconciliation. Have you actually had real clerks run through the reconciliation process with these statements? I think it would be eye-opening.

One of the main purposes of the statement is reconciliation (I would say it is the primary purpose). Practically every element of the statement should be designed in a way that facilitates reconciliation. These new statements seem to have done the opposite; to my eye, the reconciliation process wasn't even considered in their design.


Yikes! Alan is absolutely right. None of these proposed new statements seem to have any relation to the fundamental task of reconciliation. The format of the existing statement is much, much better for this purpose.

(If any changes are needed in that respect, they would take the form of labeling items on the statement to correspond more directly to items on the reconcilation screens. There could be check boxes for cleared checks and transfers, for example, and suggestions about creating temporary items.)

If the chuch could modify the existing software to reach down into MLS and check off the status of cleared checks automatically (as Quicken and my bank have been able to do for years) then that would be fine and dandy. But so long as I as a clerk have to do all that manually, reading the financial statement and manually checking each item off on the reconciliation screens, then please print the cleared and uncleared checks in serial order, just like the current statement.

All those basic functions are further obscured in this statement than they ever were.

There seem to be two things added to these new statements, neither of which has anything to do with monthly reconciliation:

  1. Identifying "Action Items" that do not actually require action for the reconcilation to be complete.
  2. Displaying summaries of income and expense, which can better be done as reports within MLS directly. Some of those reports exist already.
If the only purpose is to create more dated hardcopy that the bishop must sign, then so be it. But please keep it out of the monthly statement.

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Postby jbh001 » Tue Aug 11, 2009 8:39 pm

Obviously, some of the entries on these sample statements are there to cover all potential scenarios, such as "Missing Weekly Donation Information." Other items such as the "Missing Budget Allocation Requirement" hint at potential future policy/procedural changes, or are intended to cover units that are not part of the Budget Allowance program (probably those units outside the United States and Canada).

I noticed that the "Detail" section for the "Other" category shows an entry for "Interest Earned" on both the "Statement by Category" version (page 6), and the "Income Summary" version (page 4). I wonder if that is an error, or an allowance for a potential scenario.

Considering how much the changes in the new statements affect the current MLS reconciliation process, I can only hope that the changes anticipate or coincide with some future change to the MLS reconciliation process, or some new/future Web-based version/module for handling and tracking local unit finances. Or, perhaps the reconciliation process will be done away with entirely at some future point (yea!), meaning that these new statements will only be for informational purposes anyway.

If that is the case, then I prefer the general look and layout of the "Statement by Category" version. (It could still use some cosmetic tweaking to make it slightly less visually clunky.)

And if that is not the case, I think I still prefer the "Detail" section of the "Statement by Category" version AS LONG AS a corresponding "Expense Summary" is added beneath (or on the next page following) the new "Deposit Summary" (on the first page) in order to facilitate the current MLS reconciliation process. This "Expense Summary" needs correspond to Sections II and III of the "Summary Statement" of the current CUFS by having all cleared checks listed numerically regardless of category followed by all other expenses and credits listed in date order.

I am assuming that some of the changes to the statements are to comply with international or localized national requirements for financial statements, so that the Church only has to use one format for world-wide compliance.

In summary, I like the "Detail" section of the "Statement by Category" version, the new charts and analyses at the end of the statement, and the new beginning summary on the first page. The summary sections from the "Summary Statement" on the current CUFS also need to be carried over to the new statement IF the current MLS reconciliation process is to remain unchanged.

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Postby jbh001 » Tue Aug 11, 2009 8:55 pm

I would think that you probably have already done this, but depending on what purposes the new statements need to fulfill, I would try to gather sample statements from other institutions, such as Zions Bank, Mountain America Credit Union, Bank of America, AT&T Wireless, Verizon, T-Mobile, Qwest, Questar, Blue Cross Blue Shield, State Farm, JCPenney, Lowes, American Express, Discover, Charles Schwab, Merrill Lynch, Countrywide, Citimortgage, etc. to glean which formats are the most simple, readable, and effective at presenting the type of information and concepts you to need/want to convey.

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Postby mamadsen » Tue Aug 11, 2009 10:28 pm

I agree with has been said with the new statement - very reconciliation challenged and unfriendly. It would be well worth the effort to do some focus group testing on any changes - wait, this is a focus group. :)

Are these changes being driven by requests from ward clerks? Is it possible to provide insight to the drivers behind the changes?

Towards the end of the statement there is a section on ward budgets. Is it the intent that ward budget information will now be transmitted to SL for displaying on the CUFS? Interesting.

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Purpose of new statements

Postby wraytogo-p40 » Tue Sep 01, 2009 10:05 am

All,

In speaking with the finance department there are a few items they feel should be clarified when looking at the new look statements:

1. A new back end financial system (CUBS) is being created which will eventually make the need for reconciliation unnecessary. MLS and the new back-end system will have two-way communication allowing confirmation of data to be received in MLS.

2. The intent of the new monthly statements is to report financial activity with action or follow-up items as indicated in the report. When reconciliation will no longer be necessary, the new statements purpose will be to act as a detailed report of action and follow-up items.

If the need for reconciliation were eliminated, would that change the feedback which has already been given on the new look statements?

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Tue Sep 01, 2009 10:32 am

wraytogo wrote:1. A new back end financial system (CUBS) is being created which will eventually make the need for reconciliation unnecessary. MLS and the new back-end system will have two-way communication allowing confirmation of data to be received in MLS.
...
If the need for reconciliation were eliminated, would that change the feedback which has already been given on the new look statements?


Thank you for the clarification.

If there will be no more reconciliation, that would dramatically change my feedback. Almost every comment I made was in the context of how it would affect reconciliation. It would have been nice if someone had supplied that "little detail" ;) a bit sooner!

It's difficult for me to anticipate what will be most important on a financial statement when there is no reconciliation, since reconciliation is the primary function of financial statements in my experience up to this point. But I would think the new statement would work just fine if there are no reconciliation issues. I'd love to try out the new backend system to see if that is true.

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Postby Mikerowaved » Tue Sep 01, 2009 11:05 am

Yes, I will also have to go back and re-review the proposed statement. Thanks for the added info.

This question may be a bit premature, but some of us go through a few "extra" steps beyond reconciling the Missionary and Other funds to also reconcile the Budget. Will the Budget be included in this auto-reconcile process, or will we still need to still do it by hand?
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