@lubos, you wrote some while back that you wanted to delay discussion of terminology for the
Disbursements function. Later, you shared that you were contemplating another tab, something like
Billable Costs, for accrued expenses where money did not change hands, and possibly combining
Billable Costs into a single tab. Before things go too far, I’d like to open a discussion topic addressing both the naming issue and the need for the third tab.
We have recently heard from several users on this forum who struggle with
Disbursements because they are trying to use the capability for things it was not meant to handle. I believe the current terminology is part of that problem. The term “disbursements” is so generic within the accounting world, I believe it is very easy for users to misconstrue its purpose. A more descriptive title would help, and I cannot think of anything better than
Billable Time seems quite understandable for the present features of that tab. Both
Billable Time and
Billable Expenses would have the shared characteristic of being used to temporarily record things that will shortly be billed to a customer. Often, they might be used for interim invoices before a project is complete. They are both different in nature from a contract price that would be billed in accordance with some agreement. In that sense, they both capture things that should be recorded “now” rather than “later.”
You have correctly foreseen the need to accommodate markups and write-offs. But names of these default accounts have also seemed confusing to some users. Perhaps that could be addressed, as well, in a general renaming.
As for the third module for accrued or inferred expenses, I no longer see a need for it.
Expense claims seems an easy route for recording this type of expense. An employee need not treat per diem in any different way from a hard money outlay. The expense is just as real, despite the fact that no company money changed hands. So in settling a travel claim, for example, there will be items for which money was spent (Spend Money) and items for which the expense is only claimed (Expense Claims). Both will allow for allocation to whatever the
Disbursements recoverable account is ultimately called, if that is where an item should go. A third tab seems unnecessary.
As to combining the tabs, I would not. Surely there are companies that would want to record billable time but never have billable expenses. And there are those who do work only on fixed price contracts, but with provisions for expense pass-through. It is totally in keeping with the philosophy of Manager that they be able to use only the modules they need. That is just like companies can now enable
Suppliers without needing
Customers and vice versa.
I would very much like to hear others’ thoughts about this. Meanwhile, my suggestions for Tab and subsidiary account names are as follows:
- Billable time (formerly Work in progress-this distinguishes the account from inventory work in progress)
- Income from billed time (formerly Fees from work in progress)
- Billable time movement (formerly Work in progress - movement)
- Billable expenses (formerly Disbursements recoverable)
- Income from billed expenses (formerly Disbursements income)
- Uncollectable expenses (formerly Unrecoverable disbursements) [Note: individual users would have to decide whether to leave such written-off expenses here or transfer them to some more specific account by journal entry.]
Note how the terminology makes it fairly obvious which tab the subsidiary accounts belong to. And so far as possible, the naming is parallel for similar purposes. Ideas anyone (especially @alasdair)?