Before discussing how the Accounts Payable/Purchase Control System works, it will help you to have some understanding of the Online Module, which is the chief vehicle for controlling and monitoring the system. The following describes the major features incorporated into the design of the Online Module and explains some of the objectives and goals of the system design.
The Online Module provides the ability to obtain help on screens, error messages and individual fields with the press of a single key. This comprehensive help facility retrieves information similar to that found in the data dictionary and displays it on the screen. Data from the help text can be retrieved onto the entry screen by using the smart cursor capability. The help text can be modified to fit your specific needs and requirements and new fields can be added to customize it for your company. Any changes made to the help text can viewed online instantaneously.
The Online system includes a variety of data entry screens for getting information into the system. The philosophy behind these online screens is listed below:
- We designed many different screens to handle the input of invoice information for three main reasons:
- To tailor the input screen to the type of document being processed. Different information is required to enter employee expenses and purchase order-related vouchers.
- To allow you to establish password security for different functions.
- To give you samples of how you might tailor the screens for your own use.
- Although there are a variety of screens, most of the invoice entry screens are structured similarly. This reduces time to train and cross-train your processors.
- Most of the entry screens access master file data in order to use previously entered information to build new records. For example, after entering a purchase order number on a purchase order-related invoice screen, you press ENTER to fill the screen with data from the purchase order. This data can now be selectively used to build the invoice.
- When you have finished entering all of the fields on a screen, you press ENTER to have the System edit and validate the entire screen. Pressing ENTER again will clear the screen, move the data to the suspense file (we call it the Detail file), save the header information and allow you to enter additional items if necessary. This approach has several advantages:
- By waiting to edit until an entire multi-line screen has been entered, we have reduced the number of times that you must wait for the computer to process the data.
- By moving the data to the suspense file a few lines at a time, we ensure that less data must be rekeyed if the computer fails. Only the current screen would require re-keying.
- The suspense file serves as a temporary holding file. This keeps everything relating to a specific invoice together until end-of-document processing occurs.
- We have established a single function key, PF5, that you press at the end of the document. This signals the System that you have finished entering and now desire to balance the document. This command automatically gathers up all the related line items in the suspense file and balances the lines to the gross amount. PF5 will also update the master files if you have real-time processing set at the company level.
- Many of our entry screens allow invoices, purchase orders and receipts to be entered in error and saved to the suspense file for later processing. The PF6 function key is designed for this purpose. This allows you to set aside an invoice if the vendor is not already on the vendor file or the account distribution is not yet valid on the GL chart-of-accounts file. When those problems are fixed at their source, the invoice is automatically updated to the master file during the next update run.
There are two types of inquiry screens in the system: summary and detail. The summary screens are designed to show several records on the same screen with supporting data to assist in a research situation.
The detail screens show a single item in as much detail as possible. Header and line item records each have a detail screen that has every possible field displayed. These provide backup to the summary screens.
As one moves from screen to screen to research a particular purchase order, there is no need to re-enter the purchase order number on each screen. Inquiry screens have been designed to save key information and pass it from one screen to another.
We have also established a number of different inquiry keys on each summary and detail inquiry screen. This allows you to access the information in a number of ways. A vendor might call to ask about a particular invoice, a check, a purchase order, etc. We allow any of these to be set up as access keys into the master files. We invite you to add others as you see fit.
Online History provides the capability to retrieve the information from up to nine (9) history layers for selected purged master files. The number of layers and the time frame for moving data to history can be customized, during the product installation, for each master file using setup options. By allowing master files to be purged more frequently, batch run times decrease and DASD space is saved.
Online history viewing is prompted by the system and appears on the same screens as normal inquiries. Your position within your inquiry, whether in the current file (ACTIVE) or in history (HIST-1 through HIST-9), is displayed on the screen title line. The same alternate indexes are available for history inquires as are available for normal inquiries.
It has been our intent to provide reasonable security for our system, without setting up barricades that would hamper normal processing.
We provide password protection by terminal, by screen, by company entity and by function. This means that to successfully enter data into the system (or inquire into data on the system), the terminal operator must:
- know a valid password
- use a screen that was cleared for that password
- be eligible to enter new invoices, for instance
- be cleared for a particular company’s data.
Optionally, you can use the User ID and password from your system security (RACF, Top Secret. Etc.) as the User ID and password into the Data Design system. This provides another layer of security to the system because these passwords normally have to be changed on a regular basis.
This capability was designed primarily to allow you to interrupt the processing of an invoice to answer a vendor inquiry or to research information related to the item being entered. Up to nine (9) levels of interrupt can be defined and active at any one time. Afterwards you can easily return to your place on the original screen.
Suppose a vendor calls with a question about an invoice while you are entering a batch of invoices. You enter an interrupt command to go to an invoice summary screen, enter the vendor name, display all of the invoices for the vendor, answer his question and press a function key to return to where you were originally working.
If you are entering an invoice that shows a matching discrepancy error during the edit process, you can switch to a variety of purchase order/receipt inquiry screens, find out that you accepted an over-receipt of goods and go back and accept the invoice. You can also research across system boundaries and you can create online real-time ad hoc queries as part of your research.
VIEW, Online Real-time Query
VIEW is designed to be a simple, user-oriented query tool for users who need to do what if research against the various databases. The VIEW menu is always displayed for ease in going to the next step. VIEW uses straightforward commands. A separate volume of documentation is provided for VIEW. A list of valid field names for each of the files for which queries may be entered can be found in the Financial Systems Quick Reference Handbook.
A query may be built and instantly run to produce an answer. Both the query definition and the answer may be saved under a User ID that is known only to that user. Queries may also be printed if hard copy of the answer is desired. VIEW handles all simple arithmetic functions, sequencing up to nine fields and selection criteria to limit the data accessed.
Unlike most online query programs, VIEW makes use of the alternate key or native key path whenever possible to get to the data in the shortest possible time. Limits on the number of records to be read are maintained by the user on each query, with an absolute limit under the control of the data processing department. This prevents a run-away query from tying up the system for a long period.
A User Dictionary is available to allow users to set up short-hand terms for longer equations and functions. This simplifies the use of the query and speeds up the definition process.
VIEW also serves as the front-end formatter and selection tool for downloading information to a personal computer through the LINK module. As a result, a user is not required to learn an extra language for use with LINK.