Wednesday 27 February 2013

Solving that thorny Helper Data issue

One of the biggest pains our clients face is reconciling the bulk payments or collections on their Bank Statement to the appropriate expected transactions. There are often upwards of 15 000 cashbook transactions which need to be reconciled to a single bank transaction. A laborious and very difficult task to do manually!

Bank Recon has allowed you to import 'Helper Data' for a while now. This is the breakdown of the Bank Statement entry into the details and is usually generated by your payment system or supplied by the bank. However you can only make use of it in rather complicated Recon rules. And if the Recon rules can't make the match (can't find a unique match, can't uniquely identify the cashbook transactions to use, can't find enough of the Cashbook Transactions) the user is left to do the matching manually with no access to this very valuable Helper Data.

So we decided to see what we could do to fix this. And the result is almost ready for release. We automatically link the Helper Data to the correct Bank Transaction and then 'replace' the one Bank line with its details. These details can then be used in Easy Recon rules (and simpler advanced rules) to make many 1-1 matches rather than one big 1-many match. And the User also has access to these details from the Manual Recon screen.

What this change also led to is a whole new Manual Recon screen. The 'old' screen is, well, very old. There is a lot of hard coded information in it which makes it difficult to change. So we decided to build a new one that would allow us to include the Helper Data, and also make some changes to the filters and layout that we have been wanting to do for a while but haven't been able to get right in the current screen.

Both Cashbook and Bank are included in one endless list of transactions rather than separate grids and it makes use of Search rather than filters. Group by,  Search across accounts and Profiles are all still there, plus we've added the ability to include matched items in your search.

We are busy with the final tweaks and some usability testing and then it will be released to the world for implementation and feedback. We won't be embarking on any major new developments in Bank Recon over the next few months in order to get your feedback and rapidly include it. I know this will be a big change for many users and may take some getting used to but it will be a beneficial change in the long run.

To wet your appetite here is a sneak preview of what the new screen will look like. Enjoy!