In all my years of working with financial information I have found two ways to hide information (something a business with integrity would never want to do). The first is illegal which is to not actually report the information. The second is legal and is to bury it with detail. When there is too much data to review or the data is not summarized so it is easy to process, important information can be missed.
When I design income statements for my clients, I attempt to group all of the expenses into five to seven categories. It does not matter if the company has fifty accounts in their chart of accounts or five hundred or more. By carefully grouping expenses into meaningful categories we can quickly review the income statement to find areas that require additional research.
Sage Intelligence Reporting and Microsoft Excel work very well for designing financial statements. Sage Intelligence helps a user create an income statement that has just a few categories, but at the same time allows for any or all categories to be expanded to show all the accounts contained in that category.
As recently as last month, my client, who is running Sage 300 2014 and I were able to find significant issues that needed to be immediately addressed. In just a couple of minutes we were able to find the issue by starting with the summary view of the report and expanding it to see the detail. By effectively designing the report, it was an efficient use of time to begin with the summary view and “work backwards” to easily find the problem.