Budget and Informer FAQ

IMPORTANT NEW INFO as of 09/21/2017:

Mozilla Firefox is now the recommended web browser to use with Informer

free downloads & updates available on the internet

 

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INFORMER BUDGET system annual fall training schedule for all budget managers & viewers - September 19 & 20, 2017 - REVISED

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Where do I go to log into Informer Budget?

What’s the difference between the 2 reports I can “=>Launch”?

How do I “=> Launch” and use the Activity Detail report?

I heard in the Informer Budget training sessions that Informer is “real time.” Does that mean all the entries will show up when I log in and “=>Launch” my Activity Detail report?

When is the earliest I should pull my Activity Detail report covering the time period from my July 1 through the prior month-end?

Bottom line: How much do I have left?

The Google Chrome web browser is fine for viewing and getting a quick answer, but what if I want something I can keep and work with more easily?

How do I get updates about budget and the Informer Budget system?


Where do I go to log into Informer Budget?

While connected through an ASC network-linked computer, type this into your Mozilla Firefox web browser's URL address box :

informer.agnesscott.edu  (be sure to NOT type http:// or www in front of the address)

What’s the difference between the 2 reports I can “=> Launch”?

Budget – Chart of Accounts : This report shows you every account number your division’s Budget Officer/vice president assigned you to, and in what capacity for each account. Your name may be listed under the Budget_Manager_1 or Budget_Manager_2 columns on an account, and that means you are authorized to spend on that particular account up to college policy limits. Your name may be listed under the Budget_Viewer_1 or _Budget_Viewer_2 columns, and that means you are allowed to only view that particular account and are not authorized to spend on that particular account. Use this report to copy-&-paste account numbers onto transaction request forms (at least copy-&-paste the REdge# and the first-7-digit FD-FUNCTION combination that denotes a department, donor account, or grant account).

Budget – Activity Detail : This report shows you the entries that have posted to every account number your division’s Budget Officer/vice president assigned you to in any capacity (budget manager and/or budget viewer, please see Budget - Chart of Accounts report explanation above). An entry row's

"src" column code

helps you know how that row's entry posted to your account.

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How do I “=> Launch” and use the Activity Detail report?

  1. Click informer.agnesscott.edu (or if typing into a web browser, be sure NOT to type http:// or www in front of the address.)
  2. Launch reports by clicking the green-arrowed “=>Launch” link after the report name.
  3. "Tables" is where you choose the academic fiscal year you want the report for. Leave this as it defaults to get the current fiscal year. Fiscal years are always denoted by the year in which it ends on that June 30. For example, a year starting on 07/01/2015 and ending on 06/30/2016 is Table = FY 2016.
  4. ALWAYS leave the "(Optional) Enter the Earliest Transaction Date (M/D/YY):" field blank to get a fiscal-year-to-date report in which the "$ _BUDGET" , "$_ACTUAL" & "$_REMAINING" columns all work correctly through the end date you choose. Many key items (i.e., annual budget and endowment draw maximum amounts) are loaded effective on the very first day of the fiscal year, on 07/01, so your reports will not be accurate if you change the "Earliest Transaction Date" field, so ALWAYS leave it blank.
  5. Leave the "(Optional) Enter the Latest Transaction Date (M/D/YY):" field blank to get a fiscal-year-to-date report in which the "$ _BUDGET" , "$_ACTUAL" & "$_REMAINING" columns all work correctly through the current time ("real-time").
  6. Leave the "(Optional) Enter a Budget Viewer:" field blank to see ALL accounts to which your Budget Officer/VP has assigned you.
  7. If you wish, you can use the "or(Optional) Enter a Budget Viewer:" field -- in addition to the "(Optional) Enter the Latest Transaction Date (M/D/YY):" field (it's really AND, not OR) -- if you want to narrow down the results to just the accounts you SHARE with some other people (key in multiple IDs separated by commas with no spaces).
  8. Click the “Launch Report” button.

9. "Report Results" tab gives data line-by-line by "#Budget_Line_Item" which you can expand (+) or collapse (-) to view sets you wish to see.

10. If, after the "Requesting data..." animation goes away, data does not appear for you, you likely "timed out" and you'll need to go back to the "Report Results" tab and click “Launch Report” again.

11. If you want to reload the report, always click the “=> Launch Report” button again (and never use the “Refresh” link).

12. As with any web site, watch for "mid-screen scrollbars" and know that you can go out to the right and click "Display All" to avoid page breaks or non-viewable hidden data.

13. Note that periodic college budget-versus-actual status reports for the officers, Board, etc., group accounts by "#Budget_Line_Item" matching the final budget for that fiscal year.

14. When "Export"-ing to Excel, use the "(.csv)" option at the top of the pop-up list. After opening the resulting Excel file, "Save As" an "Excel Workbook (*.xlsx)" to allow the latest Excel software version you're accessing on your computer to provide updated functionality and also lower the file size to save space on the server. "Export"-ing to Excel and subtotaling all of the .xlsx Excel file data by #Budget_Line_Item first, then by FUNCTION, and finally by FD (fund #), will give you the most-useful format to find answers, PDF-print account subset reports for sharing with others as needed, etc. For tips on how to do that, refer back to the Informer Budget training sessions you attended, talk to your division's BCC rep, or talk to the Senior Financial Analyst in the Business & Finance Division.

15. Informer Budget is a "real-time" system. So be sure to always add the fiscal year, any runtime parameters you may have requested, and also a date & time launched narrative to your export's "Output Filename" field. That way, when you go back and open the file you exported, you'll always know what fiscal year that file relates to and how current that file's data is. Very important with any "real-time" system.

16. Downloading the FREE PDF creation program from ITS's internet page at http://www.agnesscott.edu/its/quick-links/index.html  and using that to "screen print"-to-PDF works well to create email-able, printable, shareable reports.

17. Do not use the "Analytics" or “Charting” tabs.

18. As with any financial site, always scroll right & up and click "Sign out" before closing your browser or shutting down your computer.

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I heard in the Informer Budget training sessions that Informer is “real time.” Does that mean all the entries will show up when I log in and “=>Launch” my Activity Detail report?

Not exactly. Informer Budget behaves a lot like online bank and credit card transaction review websites. This means that if the entry has “cleared” and Accounting, Payroll, Financial Aid, Development, etc., has “posted” it already, then the entry shows in the Activity Detail report for your review.

This also means that if something is “pending” but not “posted” yet, you'll want to keep your own list of those items in mind and manually adjust the “$_REMAINING” column amount accordingly. Below are examples of “pending” items to be aware of and keep on your own list:

  • Transaction requests you initiated that are awaiting approval signatures.
  • Transaction requests you initiated that received approval signatures but have not yet made it to Accounting.
  • Transaction requests you initiated that received approval signatures and made it to Accounting but have not been keyed in yet (i.e., awaiting the weekly ACH and check runs, etc.).
  • PNC Bank VISA (formerly Chase MasterCard) P-Card transactions post to Activity Detail monthly with backward-dated effective dates into the prior month. But only transactions approved in the bank P-Card systems can show up in Informer Budget. Always keep in mind this possible approval step "time lag" between the PNC (formerly Chase) system and Informer Budget.
  • Office supply order charges (i.e., OfficeMax and Office Depot) post to Activity Detail monthly with backward-dated effective dates into the prior month. Always keep in mind this "time lag" between supply orders and Informer Budget.
  • Post Office and Office Services charges, including copier-code uses and at-the-counter special printing requests, both post to Activity Detail monthly with backward-dated effective dates into the prior month. Always keep in mind this "time lag" between Post Office and Office Services use dates and Informer Budget.

When is the earliest I should pull my Activity Detail report covering the time period from my July 1 through the prior month-end?

You’re encouraged to pull Activity Detail reports as often as you can and review the posted entries for accuracy, always noting your own “pending” but not “posted” yet list (please see an earlier FAQ above about "real time"). But because Accounting needs time to post and backward-effective-date many entries into the prior month, please wait until the morning of the 10th calendar day of the month after that period ended to run a fiscal-year-to-date report through that prior month-end to ensure the report will be complete and final.

For example, if you wanted to run a report through 09/30/2016, you would want to wait until at least 10/10/2016 to "=> Launch" that Activity Detail report.

PLEASE NOTE: If P-Card transaction approvals, properly-approved forms, etc., arrive in Accounting after that date, those transactions will likely not show in Informer Budget until the following month. So, as always, periodically review your Activity Detail report and manually adjust the $_REMAINING for any transactions you submitted that are not showing up yet.

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Bottom line: How much do I have left?

Positive amounts in the Activity Detail’s “$_REMAINING” column subtotals at the FUNCTION and #Budget_Line_Item levels are what you have left. But always remember to consider your own “pending” but not “posted” yet items list (please see an earlier FAQ above about "real time") that are not showing up yet. Important caveats:

(1)  For the “$_REMAINING” column to work, you need to always run fiscal-year-to-date reports, meaning NEVER key anything into the field called “(Optional) Enter the Earliest Transaction Date (M/D/YY):”. Why is this true? Because the budget loading, endowed fund maximum draws, etc., are all loaded effective on July 1 each year (the first day of the fiscal year), so you cannot get accurate reports if July 1 is not included in the date range you run the report for.

(2)  Accounts that have Raisers Edge code numbers in the “REdge#” column that begin with an “X” are donor-funded eXpendable accounts which could have additional receipts coming in the future. You’d want to ask Advancement Services or Development if there are pledge receipt schedules in their files for those “REdge#” file numbers that you could plan around for your corresponding account numbers.

(3)  If the account number starts with FD = 14, that means the account is a grant that does not contain loaded budgets or receipts that you as the budget manager or budget viewer can see. You’d want to refer to your copy of the grant document and/or talk to the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) about the status of the grant, when the grant runs out, amounts available for specifics uses within the grant, etc.

(4) For any negative amounts in the Activity Detail’s “$_REMAINING” column subtotals at the FUNCTION and #Budget_Line_Item levels, you will want to talk with your division's Budget Coordinating Committee (BCC) rep about those to compare notes about what's causing that overdraft issue and how best to correct it. All overdrafts need to be cleared up each year in mid-June effective for that June 30 academic fiscal-year-end, using your own list of “pending” but not “posted” yet items in your calculations of what it will take to ensure the amount you adjust for will clear any current and building overdraft balance.

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The Google Chrome web browser is fine for viewing and getting a quick answer, but what if I want something I can keep and work with more easily?

When you have the report data on-screen in your browser, use the Export Results option in the upper right-hand corner of the browser screen.

Then choose the Excel Comma-Separated Values (.csv) option at the top of the next menu’s list, and save the file to a drive location you use and name it accordingly.

Open the file with Excel and perform a “Save As” in which you choose “Excel Workbook” which changes the format of the file from the .csv basic version to the .xlsx robust Excel version.

At that point, you can subtotal, format, and print, using Excel functionality.

Please note: Excel filtering and pivot tables should NOT be applied to or used on your exported Informer Budget reports because of the high risk that using those functionalities will result in the sudden exclusion of important entries and data from the results you see, leading you to incorrect conclusions about how much is $_REMAINING for departments, donor funds, grants, etc.

 

Helpful links from Information Technology (IT):

http://www.agnesscott.edu/its/quick-links/index.html

After you format your Informer Budget report inside Excel, you can choose to go paperless in your budget communications with others by creating an Acrobat Adobe “PDF” document and emailing that instead of printing paper copies. If you don’t have Adobe on your computer, you can download a FREE “PDF writer” which will add “CutePDF” as a printer option in your printer lists. When chosen, you actually do not print paper, but instead you create a PDF document you can name and save and email-attach-share as you wish. To download the FREE “CutePDF” writer, go to:

http://www.cutepdf.com/

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How do I get updates about budget and the Informer Budget system?

Watch for emails from the Senior Financial Analyst in Business and Finance with subject lines starting with …

Informer Budget ____________

Those emails would likely include information about:

- system down times

- system upgrades

- the annual summertime "fiscal-year-flip" and Budget Officer/VP account re-assignments

- for accounts that have Raisers Edge code numbers in the “REdge#” column that begin with an “N” indicating donor-funded eNdowed accounts, when the future fiscal year's endowed fund draw maximum budgets are loaded far ahead of time to help you with your planning

- when regular budgets are loaded

- dates, times & locations of the annual fall semester Informer Budget munch-&-learn training sessions

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