Avoid Parent Account Conflicts

Avoid future parent-account issues by keeping "parent" accounts as parents forever, and "normal" accounts as normal forever

This  is a sub-topic of our other general Consistent Hierarchy article.

A huge percentage of upload issues happen on the second round, when clients upload a new set of sheets that has some level of fundamental changes from the first round. This is because some clients treat accounts as "parents" one month, and "child" or "normal" accounts the next month.

CFO Scoreboard has an important constraint here: an account can either be a child or a parent, across all time and all date ranges; it cannot be both!

This means that if an account has children underneath it, you can't give it its own accounting numbers in some future round of uploading. Conversely, if an account has its own accounting numbers, you cannot give it children in future uploads

Let's look at an example -- imagine our client supplies this for their first month:

Month 1 P&L

No problems so far here. The first two rows are parent accounts, so they aren't allowed to have any values. Rows 4-6 are "normal" accounts so they have values. This would import into CFO Scoreboard just fine.

Now let's imagine the next month ...

Month 2 P&L

See how things changed? Direct Sales used to be a normal account, but the client decided to add some more granularity to their statements this month. Unfortunately this is not the right way to do it with CFO Scoreboard -- trying to upload Month 2 after Month 1 would cause an error, because CFOS thinks that Direct Sales is a normal account, so it cannot have children.

The reason this happens is because:

CFO Scoreboard tries to "unify" all charts of accounts into one consolidated hierarchy

And in that consolidated hierarchy, any given account can only be a parent OR a child. It cannot be both.

So how do we resolve this? We'd have to revise the Month 1 data, so we could do some manipulation in the Excel spreadsheet, like so:

Done! This would import into CFO Scoreboard fine -- the original Month 1 data would be overwritten, so that Direct Sales would permanently become a parent account. Any historical data recorded against Direct Sales could be relocated into the Direct Sales - Other catchall bucket. From that point on, everything should work fine.

Important note: many popular systems like QuickBooks will do this for you, if you'll just use the app to re-export across the whole date range. For instance if you follow our instructions for exporting from QuickBooks and just make sure to include Month 1 and Month 2 in the same report, very likely this whole conflict will be resolved in the statement without having to do any work at all in Excel.

The moral of the story is: keep your parent accounts consistent over time!

Meanwhile it is just fine if you or your client wants to add new accounts into the list over time -- obviously businesses change with time, so that will be necessary! It is no problem at all to add a new account -- just make sure the account is inserted into the right part of the hierarchy, and CFO Scoreboard should deal with it just fine. The real issue here is not concerned with making new additions, but making inappropriate changes to hierarchy that has already been supplied.

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