Intacct Chart of Accounts and Dimensions

The Intacct Chart of Accounts gives unparalleled flexibility its clever use of dimensions.

Throughout the system Intacct has its standard account number like any other accounting system.  What really sets the Intacct Chart of Accounts apart, however, is the ability to use a series of dimensions to great effect.  Take a simple example: imagine you have a single balance sheet account for fixed assets, but you also want to account for each of your six different locations.  In a traditional non-dimension account structure you would be forced to have six different account numbers for each Fixed Asset groupings.  That means creating general ledger accounts for Autos, Computers, Leasehold Improvements, and so on, you have to continue carrying those six location “sub-accounts” down.  It doesn’t take long for a handful of accounts to multiply.

Adding another location in a non-dimensional structure can also make for a fair bit of maintenance to replicate account numbers where as locations change over the life of your business.

By default Intacct uses dimensions on the account number, however.  In fact, Intacct has standard dimensions for use in its chart of accounts and in operational transactions:

  • Location
  • Department
  • Project
  • Customer
  • Vendor
  • Employee
  • Item/product
  • Class

Dimensions can be optional or required per account if desired, which adds to the flexibility.  Even better: when the system knows what a dimension should be then Intacct will fill that value in automatically.  Entering an account for an AP bill, for example, is easier since the Vendor dimension fills in based on the vendor on the bill.

Customizing Dimensions

Creating custom dimensions is where Intacct really shines.  If you work at an airline, for example, you can create a dimension called AIRCRAFT where you can make entries for each airplane in your fleet.  A concert hall could make a dimension called EVENT where they list each show at their venue.  Project-based industries can use the project dimension, of course, and not-for-profits have the ability to make a series of dimensions for GRANTS and the various required regulatory flags.

[ See also: Using Intacct dimensions to analyze business data.]

How Dimensions Matter

It’s easy to overlook how great dimensions work within Intacct.  For example:

  • You can budget by dimension.  Not all systems allow for this, which means not all systems really have dimensions in the true sense.
  • Dimensions are not free-form text fields, they’re controlled lists.
  • Dimensions are available throughout the system, even in sub-ledger transactions.  Entering a Sales Order or AP Bill?  No problem, you’ll be able to pick different dimension attributes on those transactions as easily as from a general ledger entry if desired.
  • Dimensions can be grouped and be in a hierarchy.  Your locations, for example, could be organized as cities that roll up to states, or however you define that.
  • You can drag-and-drop dimensions into financial reports.  In just a few clicks it’s possible to have financial statements by location, project, or customer.  An charter airline could run financial statements for each of its airplanes if it wanted to, easily comparing revenue to maintenance costs for visibility into the numbers.

As businesses evolve and expand, the sophisticated-yet-simple use of dimensions in Intacct can unlock new insights and productivity.