Q: How does CAFR Unlimited work?
A: CAFR Unlimited lets you maintain a database of your chart of accounts (or some summarized version of your chart of accounts) to identify each account by account number and a series of ‘properties’ describing how those accounts are used for reporting purposes. This database is structured to hold and maintain, in a broad sense, three sets of books. You can bring into CAFR Unlimited your ‘cash’ basis numbers, if applicable, make the necessary journal entries to take those numbers to the ‘modified accrual’ basis, and then make the appropriate journal entries to take them to the ‘full accrual’ basis. These three sets of numbers reside in the database concurrently, which lets you report on any set of numbers for any accounting period in any year. The subsequent execution of a report definition will place information from your database into an Excel spreadsheet that is nearly camera ready for producing your Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.
Q: I already have Crystal Reports; can’t it do everything that CAFR Unlimited does?
A: Possibly, if you have the time and money to invest in building a Crystal solution. There are many features in CAFR Unlimited that are specifically designed to assist you in preparing your data for financial reporting such as a full journal entry process. The biggest issue with developing a similar application in Crystal would be just that, DEVELOPING. You, in a sense, would be going through a complete project development process such as we have already done in creating CAFR Unlimited. We recently talked with an entity that has a data processing support staff that wants to build a Crystal Comprehensive Annual Financial Report solution for them. They told us the estimate is 600 hours to develop the reports, and that didn’t include an estimate on the effort to build the Crystal database or get the data into the Crystal Reports system. We feel that this type of endeavor may not be the best use of an entity’s time and resources. Implementing CAFR Unlimited takes a fraction of the time it would take to build a solution with Crystal Reports.
Q: If I were to use CAFR Unlimited, when is the best time to implement, and how long should it take?
A: As in most software products, there can be many factors involved in deciding this issue. We believe the best time to implement is as soon as possible after completing your most current Comprehensive Annual Financial Report prior to changing to GASB 34. We would like to see you parallel your last CAFR as there are known values to work to and the prior year numbers will be very valuable in taking full advantage of the things CAFR Unlimited can assist you with. Many things can affect the time to set up and implement CAFR Unlimited. The number of funds and detail that you decide to import into CAFR Unlimited, the number of people and hours you are willing to commit to the project, and how well you understand the reporting changes will impact set up time. Set up will be more tedious for some than others as we have found there are no two entities the same. We want to see you get off to a good start so you will realize the most ‘time and effort’ savings as soon as possible; ideally we don’t want to see you wait till the last minute.
Q: How much training does CAFR Unlimited require?
A: CAFR Unlimited provides a comprehensive manual describing the steps necessary to start using the software and how to use each function. CAFR Unlimited is like any other software product: the amount of training required will be dependent on the prospective user’s computer literacy and knowledge of how the financial reports are supposed to be structured, as well as the time table on which you want to be up and running. We have provided a product that doesn’t require onsite training, but as in anything else, personal guidance can be more effective. We provide three levels of training options:
• Remote Training:z A series of Web-based sessions spanning approximately 8 weeks.
• Onsite Training: Personnel from our office will come to your site and over a period of 2 or 3 days instruct your staff, using your real data, in the use of the software (this option requires some remote set up time prior to the onsite training).
• Custom Set up & Training: Our staff will perform the majority of fund level set up for you and will also conduct onsite training as described above.
While these are options and not required, we do recommend at the least the Remote Training. Proper set up and sufficient training will greatly enhance the successful use of the product.