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mailed check logging control

  • 1.  mailed check logging control

    Posted 10-03-2022 11:07 AM
    Good afternoon from rainy Virginia - 

    We recently completed an internal audit review, and one item the auditors brought up was related to our mail/gift log.  We have been logging all mailed checks when opened in a 2-person process, utilizing Box and the online version of Excel. We then reconcile the log with the daily committed batches to ensure that everything that is opened and logged is processed and deposited.  

    Our auditors noted that there was a lack of security around the log itself - that someone could feasibly delete a row from the log, and the check could mysteriously disappear - mainly because we're using the auto-sum function, and the sheet itself isn't locked when logging is complete, because we update it with batch numbers when reconciled.  Otherwise they recommend that print the day's log, manually write the reconciled batch numbers it and then scan it.  I am not a fan.  Our log is very simple, to reduce time spent on it, and we utilize a lot of the drag and fill and autocomplete type functionality.   After all, all of those gifts will be entered again into our database, so it seems very redundant.

    How is everyone else handling their check/mail logs?  I was looking at Smartsheet as an option - it seems like it would do the trick because it has cell-level security (so once it's logged, you can remove it), but I haven't used it extensively.  It seems relatively inexpensive for the 3-4 users we would need to have on it. 

    Thanks!

    ------------------------------
    Aimee Fitzgerald
    Executive Director, Advancement Services
    William & Mary
    asfitzgerald@wm.edu
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: mailed check logging control

    Posted 10-03-2022 11:15 AM
    I have successfully eliminated the need for any manual check log for the past 20+ years.  They serve no legal or fiscal purpose and simply add busy work subject to error.  As long as you have a demonstrated dual control batching process, a check log is redundant.

    John

    John H. Taylor
    Principal
    John H. Taylor Consulting, LLC
    2604 Sevier St.
    Durham, NC   27705
    919.816.5903 (cell/text)

    Serving the Advancement Community Since 1987






  • 3.  RE: mailed check logging control

    Posted 10-05-2022 01:48 PM

    John,

     

    I'm curious to know how you managed that – more details please!  Our auditors looked at our two-person posting process and still required that we log the mail separately.  Our two-person process essentially made our posting process our "log" in that everything that was opened was immediately batched, and subtotals cross-verified, but it was not deemed a sufficient control because "how could we know if something didn't make it in."

     

    Thanks!

     

     






  • 4.  RE: mailed check logging control

    Posted 10-07-2022 04:58 PM
    Now that I am at my desk . . .

    Many auditors get hung up on this "old school" check log thinking.  Numerous processes - such as the add-tape scenario - ensure you don't let something fall behind a desk.

    Auditors fail to recognize that there is ample opportunity for checks to get lost before they hit your office.  The mailroom is one - and they don't have a check log.  Colleges and departments that receive the check first and send it through Campus Mail to you are another.  Heck, the USPS misplaces mail all the time.  Even lockbox or caging services have the same issue - and they are your agent, yet do not maintain a check log.

    There is no foolproof process.  And a check log isn't foolproof, either.  In gift processing assessments at institutions that still do this, they are batting 500 on getting the check log right!

    And at one institution, the check log kept on a shared drive was accidentally deleted.  The world did not come to an end.

    Please sit down with your auditors and have a heart-to-heart.  There are better solutions!

    John
    John H. Taylor
    Principal
    John H. Taylor Consulting, LLC
    2604 Sevier St.
    Durham, NC   27705
    919.816.5903 (cell/text)

    Serving the Advancement Community Since 1987


    On Wed, Oct 5, 2022 at 2:56 PM John Taylor <johntaylorconsulting@gmail.com> wrote:
    And what if something did not make it in?  Lost is lost!

    However, if the people opening the mail run an add tape, and the person batching the gifts runs an add tape, and the batch control has the same amount, and the deposit slip jas the same amount, how does a check log help?

    You might need to tweak procedures a little and walk the auditors through.  But done properly, with good discussion with the auditor, there is no need for a log.

    Happy to chat with you and the auditors if that would help.

    John H. Taylor 
    919.816.5903 (Cell/Text)

    Big Ideas; Small Keyboard





  • 5.  RE: mailed check logging control

    Posted 10-12-2022 03:41 PM
    John, is there a document somewhere that has a more modern and streamlined process described? I'm trying to shift a client right now and we're getting some headwinds. I'd love to point to either a 'best practices' doc or a live policy at a nameplate organization. 


    Thank you,
    Isaac Shalev
    Data Strategy Expert
    Sage70, Inc.
    (917) 859-0151
    isaac@sage70.com

    Schedule a 30-minute consultation now:







  • 6.  RE: mailed check logging control

    Posted 10-12-2022 03:54 PM
    Only the procedures I've written up for clients.  It's not a huge protocol.  All you need is solid dual-control handshakes and add-tapes that follow the work.  It takes about a paragraph to write up.

    John

    John H. Taylor
    Principal
    John H. Taylor Consulting, LLC
    2604 Sevier St.
    Durham, NC   27705
    919.816.5903 (cell/text)

    Serving the Advancement Community Since 1987







  • 7.  RE: mailed check logging control

    Posted 10-13-2022 10:15 AM

    Thanks John for more details.  The question asked is that once the check is in OUR hands, eg, we have taken control over it from the post office, what controls does Advancement have in place to ensure that it is not lost.  The auditor stated that if it was not logged immediately, and during our posting process "slipped behind a desk" – there would not have a been a control in place to even KNOW that it was lost.   Which is a fair point.  Annoying, duplicative, but also fair. ��  (My snarky side wanted to ask if we should take apart the desks to find out how often that has happened but fortunately for my career, I did not.)

     

    Your point is that lost is lost, absolutely true – doesn't make it any better for the donor.  But – per the auditor - lost during our watch can be mitigated with these manual control processes.

     

    It's tricky, and I appreciate your candor and help!

     






  • 8.  RE: mailed check logging control

    Posted 10-13-2022 12:07 PM
    Running an add tape during mail opening and keeping that tape with the checks at all times you transfer control solves the problem.

    John H. Taylor 
    919.816.5903 (Cell/Text)

    Big Ideas; Small Keyboard





  • 9.  RE: mailed check logging control

    Posted 10-14-2022 02:14 PM
    And what if something did not make it in?  Lost is lost!

    However, if the people opening the mail run an add tape, and the person batching the gifts runs an add tape, and the batch control has the same amount, and the deposit slip jas the same amount, how does a check log help?

    You might need to tweak procedures a little and walk the auditors through.  But done properly, with good discussion with the auditor, there is no need for a log.

    Happy to chat with you and the auditors if that would help.

    John H. Taylor 
    919.816.5903 (Cell/Text)

    Big Ideas; Small Keyboard





  • 10.  RE: mailed check logging control

    Posted 10-03-2022 02:52 PM
    Paper check-logging, scan-and-print and the like are much more common than I wish. As John said, they're often redundant and not required, but they hang around anyway. 

    With regards to your process, Excel for the web does allow for tracking changes - including tracking which users made the change. Go the Review tab, and hit Show Changes to see who made which changes. For your process, you don't need to lock down the cells, you just need a way to audit and confirm that nothing was deleted improperly, and I think this can do the trick. 

    Thank you,
    Isaac Shalev
    Data Strategy Expert
    Sage70, Inc.
    (917) 859-0151
    isaac@sage70.com

    Schedule a 30-minute consultation now:






  • 11.  RE: mailed check logging control

    Posted 10-05-2022 01:44 PM

    Thanks Isaac – I will have to check it out.  I don't think I dug deep enough and the online version is a little less flexible than the desk top!