In Ghana, a lot of organizations have also been affected by this change and the account unit of these organizations is of no exception. The accounts department of every organization is said to be the main lifeblood of such organization. This is in the sense that, before any management team can make a concrete decision both on recent and future issues, the account department cannot be left out.
As the lifeblood of any competitive business, accounting information is a critical resource for all enterprises. The concept of accounting information system (AIS) is quite well established and numerous commercial packages as well as tailor-made systems have been developed. However, the business world is best by accounting systems that have varying levels of efficiency and excessive costs for such information. (Yau et al., 2000).
Advancements in information technology (IT) have enabled companies to use computers to carry out their activities that were previously performed manually. Accounting systems that were previously performed manually can now be performed with the help of computers.
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In the past the accounting record keeping system in most organizations in Ghana were manually computed by accountants. These manual methods of keeping and maintaining records were found to be unmanageable. Thus, it was found to have been associated with a lot of problems for most of the account departments. Some of these problems are; insecurity of crucial records that is, record can easily be stolen or affected by disasters, easily manipulation of accounting records, difficulty in allocating files and delays in to generating report which at time sleds to the delay in decision making as well as the entire organization system.
Currently, most accounting records such as employee's payroll, voucher, bank reconciliation, balance sheets, etc are being done by the use of computer application software. These accounting softwares are of different variety such as sage, quick book, sun system, pastel etc. the patronage of these softwares depend on the culture of the organizational system of recording.
On the other hand, this advanced technology has also created significant risks related to ensuring the security and integrity of computerized accounting information systems (CAIS) (Musa and Abu, 2005).
This research will investigate into how the account departments of most organizations in Ghana have overcome the problems that were associated with the manual system with the introduction of the computerized system. The research will also probe into the problems associated with the computerized system as exist currently.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
A lot of studies have been conducted on computerized accounting system (CAS), most of which have been undertaken on it benefits. Very few have been undertaken on the evaluation of both the advantages and the disadvantages. In Ghana little is known about the impact computerized accounting system especially with regards to small and medium sized enterprises
1.3 RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
To know the advantages and disadvantages of computerized accounting system to the accountant and the entire management.
It effect on the external environment (interested parties or users of accounting information)
To know any non financial benefits or otherwise derived by firms who have implemented computerized accounting systems
Factors that influence the adoption of a accounting packages of these organizations
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The study aims to answer the following questions;
How advantageous or disadvantages has the computerized accounting system been to the accountant and the entire management?
How does it affect the external environment (interested parties or users of accounting information)?
What factors influence the adoption of an accounting technology?
What have been the non-financial impacts of the adoption of accounting technology?
1.5 SIGNIFICANT OF THE STUDY
The findings of this investigation will be a source of reference for organizations that want to migrate from the manual system of recording to the computerized system. That is, to enable them to know the benefits they will derive from using the computerized system as well as the risk associated with it.
Also, the study will serve as a guide for accountants who uses the computerized accounting system as well as for student to have an insight about the computerized accounting system.
The study will also add to the existing knowledge on impact of computerized accounting systems in Ghana.
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This study would be carried out using the survey method. Using the survey method would be of much relevance in this research because we will gain an in-depth understanding on how and why computerization is being used in most organizations
Small and medium size enterprises with formalized accounting structures operating with the central business district of Accra.
1.6.2 Sampling Techniques and Sample
From the population, Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) hospital, Ministry of Health (MOH) and the headquarters of The Salvation Army Church would be chosen as the sample for our research. Twenty-five people in each organization would be interviewed. The respondents include management, accounting practitioners or employees of the account department of organizations and users of accounting uses. In choosing the sample for the study, the non probability technique specifically the judgment sampling would also be used for each of the other population. This sampling technique would be chosen in other to get an appropriate origin that can provide us with substantial information for achieving our research objective.
1.6.3 Sources of Data
Both primary and secondary data would be collected in an attempt to answer the research questions. This would provide adequate information for a better appreciation of the issues and the different variables associated with it.
1.6.4 Collection of Data
In collecting the data two main instruments would be employed. These are questioners and interviews.
A questioner is an instrument in writing form that has a number of items and administered to several people to collect data for survey (Gordor, Akar, Howard 2006). The questioners would be administered to the employees and the accounting practitioner in the accounts department of Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) hospital and other organizations using computerized accounting system such as Ministry of Health (MOH) and the headquarters of The Salvation Army Church.
The questioners consist of twelve items for the accounting practitioners and accounting departments of the organizations and fourteen for employees in other department of organizations affected by the computerized accounting systems.
The questioners would have both close and open ended questions. Correspondent would be requested to tick or answer where appropriate. It would enable the researcher to collect views from many people as possible.
Another instrument which would be used to gather information is interview. An interview is a method of obtaining information about or from an individual usually through oral interaction with that individual (Gordor, Akar, Howard 2006). This method would enable the researcher to ask questions that the questioners could not cover. The interview would be conducted by means of a face to face interaction.
1.6.5 Data Analysis Strategy
The responses from questioners administered would be analyzed by the use of both quantitative (graphical method) and qualitative (summary method) analytical strategies.
1.6.6 Time frame
This research would take a period of three month and a week. Starting from February to the first week of May and this would be disintegrated in the schedule activities.
1.7 LITERATURE REVIEW
Accounting information system is considered as a subsystem of management information system (MIS). Boochholdt (1999) defines accounting information systems as systems that operate functions of data gathering, processing, categorizing and reporting financial events with the aim of providing relevant information for the purpose of score keeping, attention directing and decision-making.
Accounting information systems are considered as important organizational mechanisms that are critical for effectiveness of decision management and control in organizations.
Studies have shown that successful implementation of accounting systems requires a fit between three factors (Markus and Pfeffer, 1983). A fit must be achieved with dominant view in the organization or perception of the situation. Second, the accounting system must fit when problems are normally solved, i.e. the technology of the organization. Finally, the accounting system must fit with the culture, i.e. the norms and value system that characterize the organization (Christiansen and Mouritsen, 1994). Systems will be useful when information provided by them is used effectively in decision-making process by users. The ongoing revolution in information technology (IT) has had a significant influence on accounting information system (AIS). Improvements in the IT have brought improvements in computers.
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Today, almost all organizations are using computers in their daily businesses. As computers become smaller, faster, easier to use, and less expensive, the computerization of accounting work will continue. Accounting activities that were previously performed manually can now be performed with the use of computers. That is, accountants are now able to perform their activities more effectively and efficiently than before (Dalchi and Tenis, 2004).
Along with the improvements in the technology, information systems have been computerized. Improvements in this technology have replaced manual bookkeeping systems with computerized ones. The revolution in the information systems, which Fowzia&Nasrin started in the early 1950s when the first business computers became available, is still in progress (Nash, 1989).
By reviewing research studies during 1987-1999, one finds out that 57 researches have been conducted on the issue of accounting information systems and decision making the number of which shows the importance of the research in this area. (Sajady et al, 2008).
Researchers have developed many models of the decision-making and problem-solving process.
All those models depict decision making as a complex, multistep activity. First, the problem has to be identified. Then the decision maker must select a method for solving the problem. Next, the decision maker must collect the data needed to execute the decision model, and then interpret the outputs of the model and evaluate the merits of each alternative. Finally, the decision maker chooses and executes the preferred solution. The AIS can provide assistance in all phases of decision making. (Romney et al, 1997).
In computerized system computers are used in processing data and in disseminating accounting information to interested users. Now-a-days most of the small business organizations eventually replace their manual accounting system with computerized accounting system. Computerized accounting systems are software programs that gather the various accounting information related to sales, purchases, receivables, payables, cash receipts, cash disbursements, and payroll. And in this procedure the financial statement is generated. (Islam, 2010).
Most of the accounting information is generated from transactions. Transactions of firms have both accounting and non accounting attributes. During the early days of computerization of AISs, accounting system used to be isolated from other information systems and served as operational; support systems. Today, as more powerful, flexible, economical, and user-friendly software and hardware have become available, the trend is toward a logical arrangement where a single system can support both accounting and operational needs. In sum, today's accounting systems are closely tied into and may even be fully integrated with other information systems. (Wilkinson et al, 2000).
Quality information is critical to organizations' success in today's highly competitive environment. Accounting information systems (AIS) as a discipline within information systems require high quality data. However, empirical evidence suggests that data quality is problematic in AIS. Therefore, knowledge of critical factors that are important in ensuring data quality in accounting information systems is desirable. (Hongjiang, 2003) Kim (1989) argues that usage of AIS depends on the perception of the quality of information by the users. Generally the quality of information depends on reliability, form of reporting, timeliness and relevance to the decisions.
Effectiveness of accounting information system also depends on the perception of decision-makers on the usefulness of information generated by the system to satisfy informational needs for operation processes, managerial reports, budgeting and control within organization.(Sajady et al, 2008).
Effectiveness of accounting information systems can be analyzed on three bases: 1) information scope, 2) timeliness, 3) aggregation. Information scope is considered as financial and non-financial information, internal and external information that is useful in prediction of future events. Aggregation of information is considered as means of collecting and summarizing information within a given time period (Choe, 1998). Doll and Torkzadeh (1988) for studying the satisfaction of users use some concepts to measure the effectiveness of the accounting information systems. These concepts are information content, accuracy, format, ease of use and timeliness.
In a recent study (Nasrin, 2010); some attributes were identified to find out the influence of using computerized accounting software (CAS) by the users and their perceptions about this. The users believed that using CAS would help him or her better attain significant rewards and they feel comfortable in using CAS. Social influence was one of the most important factors that affected users' to use CAS to improve their workability and performance and it was found that most of the respondents agreed that their performance could be better every time by using CAS.
1.8 CHAPTER DISPOSITION
This study would be presented in a five (5) chapter document with each chapter dealing with a particular issue and detailing all the main issues that would be involved in this discussion. The first chapter would introduce the main issues involved in the computerization in accounting systems and would provide back ground description to the study. The second chapter would be about a review of existing literature associated with computerization in accounting systems. The intent of such review is to identify already existing information about computerized accounting and expose gaps in existing knowledge necessitating this study. Chapter three would describe the methodology and the practical techniques used to undertake the study. It would describe in detail the research design, technique, the population, the sampling method and the sample size, data collection tools and results codification method used for analyzing the data among other methods that would be employed by the study. The fourth chapter would bring to light the setting and organizational context of the study. The chapter would discuss how the findings have answered the research questions and discuss in detail the findings of the study. The final chapter, chapter six, would present a summary of the findings of the study, the conclusions that can be drawn from the study and would make any recommendation that may be necessary.
1.9 SCHEDULE OF ACTIVITIES:
Research design, techniques and methodology development
First two weeks of March
Last two weeks of March
Analysis of data collected and findings
First three weeks of April
Collation of reports segments and writing the final report
Last week of April and the First week of May