How to approach the fiscal year change from the technical side?

The fiscal year, according to which the companies’ books of account are kept, often coincides with the calendar year. Nonetheless, sometimes, as a result of adjusting to a corporation’s requirements or following the company management’s decision, companies agree to change the fiscal year variant.

As a consequence, information systems need to be adjusted to the new financial reporting rules. How can this change be implemented while ensuring the truth and fairness of the company’s books of account? Sławomir Dąbek, Business Solutions Architect at Hicron, gives advice on how to deal with a fiscal year change from the technical point of view.

The SAP system

In accordance with accounting principles, the company’s books of account (general ledger and subsidiary ledgers) are divided into reporting periods that correspond to calendar months. In a standard SAP solution, a variant of the fiscal year consists of 16 posting periods: 

  • 12 normal periods corresponding to subsequent months of the fiscal year,
  • 4 special periods – to record adjustments that occurred in the first four months of the following fiscal year and which are made in relation to the previous fiscal year.


An accounting document is assigned to the appropriate reporting period based on the posting date.
“Companies deciding to change the fiscal year must remember about the limitations imposed by the legislator. The only legally permissible possibility for changing the fiscal year is to extend it,” says Sławomir Dąbek.

So what will the process look like for an extended fiscal year? The change of the financial year in the SAP system is achieved through “joining” two fiscal years: the full and the shortened one. To illustrate this, the operation will be presented with the use of an example: 

Example

Years/Months01.1302.1311.1312.1301.1402.1408.1409.1410.1411.1408.1509.15
Extended fiscal year in SAP – the technical aspectI-XIII-IXvariant XI-IX
Fiscal year – the business aspectI 2013 – IX 2014variant XI-IX


1.
The company applies the 12-month variant of the fiscal year that is consistent with the calendar year. 
2. In the corporation, the fiscal year begins in October and ends in September (Oct.YY-Sept.YY+1). As part of the adaptation to the corporate requirements, it is necessary to change the financial year from 2014 onwards.


The new fiscal year will be effective from October of the following year. Until then, the company will operate on the basis of the fiscal year variant consisting of 21 months, which means that technically in the SAP system the fiscal year will consist of two variants: the full (Jan-Dec 2013) and the shortened (Jan-Sept 2014) one. The business and technical variants will be aligned from October 2014.

Effects of a fiscal year change on financial reporting

The change of the fiscal year will also modify the reporting periods. In the case of the extended financial year, companies are required to provide reporting:

Changing the fiscal year will also modify the reporting periods. In the case of an extended financial year, companies are required to provide reporting: 

  •  for 21 months for tax and balance sheet purposes 
  • in accordance with the calendar year, for example in the case of statistical posting* 

Therefore, when changing the fiscal year, companies must take into account the need to prepare the required reports (trial balance, profit and turnover figures, etc.) for a period of 21 months, based on 2 fiscal years (full and shortened).

New financial reporting principles and the information system

The SAP system is based on a 12 month fiscal year; any deviations mean that periodic reports no longer fulfil their functions. The change of the fiscal year variant affects the financial reporting principles and is thus connected with performing additional programming work in the system.

“For many companies that do not have a team of SAP consultants, changing the fiscal year is technically quite challenging. The slightest error can lead to inconsistencies in the financial data and thus render periodic reporting impossible. In such a situation it is advisable to seek assistance from the implementation partner, who will implement the necessary changes into the system. We have provided this type of support for our customers many times, offering the experience of our team of consultants and programmers,” concludes Sławomir Dąbek.
 

* Fiscal year extension does not remove the obligation to prepare reports following the calendar schema. In this case, the statistical year is in line with the calendar year.