Accountancy is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) as "the profession or duties of an accountant".
Accounting is defined by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) as "the art of recording, classifying, and summarizing in a significant manner and in terms of money, transactions and events which are, in part at least, of financial character, and interpreting the results thereof."
Accounting is thousands of years old; the earliest accounting records, which date back more than 7,000 years, were found in Mesopotamia (Assyrians). The people of that time relied on primitive accounting methods to record the growth of crops and herds. Accounting evolved, improving over the years and advancing as business advanced.
Early accounts served mainly to assist the memory of the businessperson and the audience for the account was the proprietor or record keeper alone. Cruder forms of accounting were inadequate for the problems created by a business entity involving multiple investors, so double-entry bookkeeping first emerged in northern Italy in the 14th century, where trading ventures began to require more capital than a single individual was able to invest. The development of joint stock companies created wider audiences for accounts, as investors without firsthand knowledge of their operations relied on accounts to provide the requisite information. Today, accounting is called "the language of business" because it is the vehicle for reporting financial information about a business entity to many different groups of people. Accounting that concentrates on reporting to people inside the business entity is called management accounting and is used to provide information to employees, managers, owner-managers and auditors. Management accounting is concerned primarily with providing a basis for making management or operating decisions. Accounting that provides information to people outside the business entity is called financial accounting and provides information to present and potential shareholders, creditors such as banks or vendors, financial analysts, economists, and government agencies. Because these users have different needs, the presentation of financial accounts is very structured and subject to many more rules than management accounting. The body of rules that governs financial accounting in a given jurisdiction is called Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, or GAAP. Other rules include International Financial Reporting Standards, or IFRS, or US GAAP.
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Accounting Information System
Accounting information system is a system of records, usually computer based, which combines accounting principles and concepts with the benefits of an information system and which is used to analyze and record business transactions for the purpose to prepare financial statements and provide accounting data to its users. Some accounting information systems are still manual, i.e. accounting records are made with a pen, paper and manual entries into accounting books.
How are Such Systems Used?
These systems can be customized to meet the needs of a business. For example, information technology professionals responsible for business processes and information technology professionals responsible for the accounting information system can work together to develop and implement such a system so that it automatically gets information from other sources already in use by the business. Also, the systems can be set up to feature certain functions that are important to the business and eliminate functions minor to the business. Information can be automatically fed, or manually fed into a business accounting information system at whatever pace and however often it is necessary.
What are the Benefits of Using Accounting Information System?
Businesses use accounting information systems to make their accounting activities easier, quicker, and more accurate, since accounting records are analyzed and financial statements are prepared within the system, which allows to safe time of employees and avoid mistakes. Since many accounting information systems are equipped with error-reducing mechanisms and gather information regarding transactions electronically and automatically, data entry and computing errors are rare. Also, as mentioned above, since such systems are often automatically populated with transaction information, many accounting processes are less cumbersome and time-consuming when using such system.
Also to consider whether business needs accounting information system and what kind of system is required thorough analysis of business and accounting processes has to be made to determine precise requirements.