Frequently Asked Questions About

Q:  What is CAFR Unlimited?
A:  CAFR Unlimited is a state-of-the-art report presentation tool, designed exclusively for governments and public entities that makes preparation of the financial statements for Comprehensive Annual Financial Report easier, less time consuming and camera ready.

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:  How does CAFR Unlimited differ from some of the other GASB 34 solutions out there?
A:  First of all CAFR Unlimited is not just a GASB 34 solution—it is a total CAFR financial reporting tool. We have found that some CAFR reporting products only address the new reporting formats without really addressing the underlying work or record-keeping that supports those reports. Those products have chosen to employ a nationally distributed report writer that many users have said is ‘somewhat complex’ and they feel they ‘need to be an IT professional’ to use effectively. Also, these other products haven’t provided the ability to roll the GASB 34 activity forward to the new year. Several governments have indicated they keep track of their GASB 34 activity ‘off-line’ and plug into spreadsheets at the end. CAFR Unlimited is designed so you can make the original establishment of the GASB 34 basis and roll that activity forward each year, then do any appropriate reversals and JEs for any new activity, which effectively becomes the GASB 34 G/L. We don’t know of another product that provides all of the features that CAFR Unlimited does in such a standard, convenient and consistent manner.

Q:  How can CAFR Unlimited save me time & money on my audit?
A:  Because CAFR Unlimited is easy to use you will be able to prepare for your audit in less time than in the past. The great features in CAFR Unlimited such as journal entry tracking and historical review, and ease of information extraction simplify the audit process. You can also produce most if not all of the work papers for your auditors with CAFR Unlimited. This translates into less time for the auditor to do the audit, and therefore less you have to pay for the audit.

Q:  We have already developed our reports in Excel and converted to GASB 34, what benefit would there be in moving to CAFR Unlimited?
A:  As time goes on we are hearing from more and more finance departments that the Excel spreadsheets get harder to manage from year to year especially after the GASB 34 conversion. Many governments have already converted and probably submitted to GFOA their first GASB 34 statements. What you may find in the second year is that the production of the entity-wide statements isn’t as easy as you may have wanted because the previous year’s GASB 34 entries and information is not in a convenient place for manipulation or retrieval. CAFR Unlimited actually becomes your GASB 34 G/L and keeps all of the activity in the same database for convenient access and reporting. Remember: GASB 34 is a separate basis of accounting and most other software packages are not designed to keep more than one basis of accounting BUT CAFR Unlimited is. The bottom line is that as Excel spreadsheets become more difficult to manage over time, CAFR Unlimited becomes easier.

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:  My linked spreadsheets seem to work just fine; what advantage would CAFR Unlimited have?
A:  One of the most common comments we get from our users is that when they go to parallel the prior year’s data, they quite often can’t reproduce the exact results that they published in their last Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. The reason for this is usually because at the last minute they make some change and just ‘plug’ the numbers, if you use CAFR Unlimited you would have to go out of your way to by-pass the system. A complete audit trail and history in CAFR Unlimited shows how all of your numbers were derived.

Q:  Are CAFR Unlimited’s reports ‘canned’ or pre-defined??
A:  We have found, through many years of experience, that although the format for the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report is standard in nature, no two entities present their reports in exactly the same way. Therefore CAFR Unlimited provides templates that allow you to quickly build reports exactly the way you want to see them.

Q:  Will CAFR Unlimited create the note disclosures?
A:  No. CAFR Unlimited has some features of a spreadsheet and utilizes Microsoft Excel in the final report presentation, but is actually a database program that stores a government’s accounting data for any number of years and reports on that data based on the user’s specifications.

Q:  Is CAFR Unlimited a spreadsheet?
A:  No. CAFR Unlimited has some features of a spreadsheet and utilizes Microsoft Excel in the final report presentation, but is actually a database program that stores a government’s accounting data for any number of years and reports on that data based on the user’s specifications.

Q:  If CAFR Unlimited utilizes MS Excel, how would I benefit by using CAFR Unlimited instead of setting up my own linked spreadsheets?
A:  CAFR Unlimited provides a more cohesive and comprehensive manner with which to produce reports. Linked spreadsheets can be cumbersome and complicated to maintain when changes need to be made such as those required by GASB 34. Changes in any CAFR Unlimited report will not affect any other report. CAFR Unlimited has been specifically designed so that the report definitions are mostly generic in nature. In other words, by following our recommendations on set up, one user can leverage another user’s report definitions with minimal modifications.

Q:  Does CAFR Unlimited comply with GASB Statement No. 34?
A:  Yes, CAFR Unlimited provides specific adjustment journals in which to record your adjustments to take your numbers from the modified accrual basis to the full accrual basis as required by GASB Statement No.34. Any other reporting requirements can be met through proper report definitions.

Q:  Will CAFR Unlimited help me in a Certificate program?
A:  Although CAFR Unlimited cannot guarantee success in any certificate program, it can certainly help. The whole design of the system is to make it easier to create reports that conform to certain standards and require less maintenance year to year. We also feel that using the ‘Properties’ in our system as they are designed will cause users to think more about where and how some accounts are used in their accounting system and possibly cause changes there that can only help keep track of things better.

Q:  Is CAFR Unlimited only for CAFR financial reports?
A:  No. CAFR Unlimited is specifically aimed at the financial professional preparing a document for publication, but it will work very well for anyone needing to prepare their general purpose financial statements. We have one client that has loaded 10 years of history so that it will be easy to look at any particular spending history/pattern when budget time comes.

Q:  Does CAFR Unlimited give me a way to report several funds as one?
A:  Yes. CAFR Unlimited lets you group or roll together as many funds or accounts as you deem necessary.

Q:  Is CAFR Unlimited an accounting system?
A:  No. CAFR Unlimited has several functions and features that operate very similar to an accounting system but these are provided only to facilitate the efficient storage and retrieval of all the data regarding any particular account you wish to place on a report. They also help keep the data in sync; i.e. journal entries to show adjustments to accounts, and both debits and credits so as not to let a fund get out of balance.

Q:  What are the system requirements for CAFR Unlimited?
A:  CAFR Unlimited will run on Windows® 98/ME/NT4.0/2000/XP/Windows 7 with approx. 25 Megabytes of free disk space, and for best results we recommend a system with a Pentium III or AMD Athalon class processor of 500mhz or higher and 128 Megabytes of RAM or more. As in most things relating to computers, size and quantity effect performance: the larger and faster your computer, the better the performance. We fully support Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 2010 in conjunction with the CAFR Unlimited product. Please refer to System Requirements for more details.

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.

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