During my last article, I discussed how a DMS is different than a standard accounting package or ERP. In the accounting department two of the biggest differences are schedules and financial statements. In a standard ERP, subsidiary ledgers could be considered “schedules” but most have just two types; accounts receivable and payable. It is a combination of the requirement of the factory financial statement and schedules that prevents dealers from using “off the shelf” software. Let’s use the Ford financial statement as an example. Ford has an account 1140 for Warranty Claims Receivable. If you were using a standard ERP, you’d have 2 choices; use the AR module or add a subsidiary ledger. If you use the AR module, you’d have to set up a customer for Ford Warranty Receivable and then debit the AR account for this when you close a repair order. You’d use the Open item method to clear the balances by Invoice# (Claim/RO#.) The only problem is that when you produce a Ford financial statement, they don’t want you to mix the Ford Receivables with the trade receivables. You’d need to JV the balance in that Ford account to account 1140 at the end of the month. If instead you create a subsidiary ledger for account 1140 – this is normally not “controlled” like an AR account. What does it mean that an account is “controlled?” Controlling an account helps dealerships make sure that they get paid for certain items and pay for various fees, taxes, insurance policies, and aftermarket sales. Because most of the amounts owed and due involve around a car deal, repair order, or parts ticket – schedules must be “controlled” by various fields like RO#, Stock#, CustID, etc. Let’s use the warranty claims example. At the end of the month I want to see a detail listing for all the warranty claims that are past due. The most common way to list them is by the Repair order number – or reference. This RO# is the “control” for this schedule. Typically, this schedule is setup to be an aged schedule, which means that the most common reporting is in columns; 30, 60, 90, 120+ days old. It is setup to be a detail forward schedule, which means that the data clears from the report when the balance for the RO# (control) is zero after month end. Compare Warranty Claims to the Floorplan schedule. I don’t need to see the Floorplan due in an aged format. Instead I need to see the amount due “side-by-side” with the New Vehicle inventory balance to see if there are any vehicles that are still floored after the New Vehicle inventory is zero. This schedule is controlled by the stock number which is hopefully the last 8 of your VIN for simplicity. Since schedules can be controlled by many different things and customized by the dealership, the DMS system must know when to require a control number from the user or when to automatically get the control number in the document based on customized setups. I will agree that a schedule is simply a complicated report of accounting detail, but one of the failed Microsoft systems required that schedules could only run at night – the demand on the system was too great during the day. This might not make a difference to you, but for another dealership that depends on “schedules on the fly” during the day – this would be a deal breaker in considering that DMS. Being able to customize how transactions are controlled is another feature of schedules. A DMS might have an online reconciliation tool that lets you make JV entries easily. Other features include being able to download your schedules to Excel or PDF, schedule detail archiving, and various schedule formats. At the 18th Digital Dealer Conference in Tampa, April 21- 23, I’ll be giving a workshop called “Changing DMS Systems – Five Things to Consider before You Change Systems.” Please attend my session and learn how to determine the features you might need when considering a new DMS system.