Journal Processing

Overview

Journals are created following the business rules and Chart of Accounts architecture for valid values to record and order financial information for management and reporting. Journals must be approved, be valid and pass budget-checking before posting into the general ledger. Journals that fail to post are monitored with corrective action taken as needed, and posted/deleted by Accounting Services.

Depending on the journal method, validation of the transaction coding, business rules and approvals may be applied in different ways or at different times. However, at posting, all transactions will be edited again by the system. The system edit compares values entered to values that are valid in the Chart of Accounts. At the same time, the system also compares the transaction activity to the established budget for that activity to determine if the transaction is allowable based on budget rules and spending availability.

Journal Posting Schedule

Journals post automatically by the system on the hour each day after all approvals are applied. Accounting Services may also post transactions intermittently as needed.

Types of Actuals Journals

Five (5) types of actuals journals exist for processing:

  • Correction Journal 
  • Internal Sales Journal
  • Transfer Journal
  • Agency Journal
  • Balance Sheet Journal

Actuals journals are NOT for moving budget support. Refer to the Which journal type should I use? chart for more information about the first four actuals journal types; for balance sheet journals refer to the online webinar or guide.  

Methods of Journal Entry

There are four basic processes that create journal transactions in NUFinancials:

  • System interfaces and other automated interfaces
  • Direct data entry
  • Portal transactions with workflow
  • Spreadsheet uploads

Journals from Systems and Other Automated Interfaces

System interfaces (SES, AIMS, HRIS) and unit-based interfaces (recharge centers such as NUIT) are written to include a variety of system edits and validation prior to loading into the general ledger. They are transmitted on a prescribed schedule and uploaded automatically. NUFinancials edits and budget-checks the transactions before posting occurs; if any of the journal lines are in error the entire journal is not posted and is assigned an error status. Journals that fail to post are monitored with corrective action taken as needed and resubmitted for posting by Accounting Services.

Intra-system modules (A/P, Expenses, Grants) also generate journals to the general ledger; journals in error are recycled and must be corrected before posting.

Direct Data Entry of Journals

Direct data entry into NUFinancials is limited to central offices, primarily Accounting Services (AS) and Accounting Services for Research and Sponsored Programs (ASRSP) due to the complexity of the functionality and the lack of business rules and workflow in the system to control how and what transactions are created. Specific sources are assigned to central office staff in order to monitor direct entry activity and business processes are in place to ensure appropriate approvals before posting. Other central offices that utilize this journal type are the Office of Budget and Planning, Student Accounts, and Student Loans.  

NUPortal for Entry of Journals

All other units will use the NUPortal journal functionality to create journals for the purposes of accounting corrections, charging internal sales, and transferring actual monies between chart strings (NOT for moving budget support as Budget Journals are used to move funding). The portal includes approval workflow. No paper forms for data entry will be used in NUFinancials. For detailed instructions about how to create Journals using the NUPortal, view the FFRA training guides for Using the Journal Portal Hands-on.

Tip: When creating an actuals journal via the NUPortal, you must enter an Account value. On the accounting line, click on magnifying glass under Account to find all available values. Or, enter the "first digit" of an Account series to limit the returned values. For example, enter "7" for non-personnel expenses, "4" for revenues, "5" for internal sales revenues.

Journal Upload Process for Large Multi-line Journals

Users will also have a tool for large multi-line journals for these same purposes: an excel spreadsheet template. Users will first register with Accounting Services to use this program. Then, spreadsheets are submitted to Accounting Services for final approval, edit, and upload for posting. Refer to

Journal Upload Process for more information.

Balance sheet entries may only be submitted by units via the spreadsheet journal or balance sheet journal entry page.



Correction Journal

Correct a chart string or Account on an existing posted journal. Not to be used for balance sheet Account changes.

  1. Journal must be entered within 90 days of the original journal date, otherwise a justification form is required.
  2. Accounts must either be expense (7 series) or revenue (4 series), but not both on the same journal.
  3. Transfer Accounts (8 series) may not be used.
  4. ASRSP approval will be required on all journals containing sponsored funds (6 series).
  5. Journal must balance.
  6. To increase:
    • Expense, enter a positive amount (debit)
    • Revenue, enter a negative amount (credit)
  7. To decrease:
    • Expense, enter a negative amount (credit)
    • Revenue, enter a positive amount (debit)

Internal Sales Journal

New sale of goods or services from one NU Unit to another NU Unit. Correct a sale of goods or services from one NU Unit to another NU Unit. (Use Agency Journal for sales with 700s Funds).

  1. Journal must be entered within 90 days of the original sale date or service period end date.
  2. Must use an RDX revenue Account (5 series) and expense Account (7 series) which most accurately reflects the nature of the transaction.
  3. If correcting or adjusting, you must reference original internal sales journal. The correction journal must reverse the original transaction and a new ISJ must be created with the correct transaction.
  4. ASRSP approval via workflow will be required on all journals containing sponsored funds.
  5. Journal must balance.
  6. To increase:
    • Expense, enter a positive amount (debit)
    • Revenue, enter a negative amount (credit)
  7. To decrease:
    • Expense, enter a negative amount (credit)
    • Revenue, enter a positive amount (debit)

Transfer Journal

Move an amount from one chart string to another. Not to be used for changes in budget or with Agency or Sponsored activity chart strings.

  1. Must use Transfer Accounts (8 series).
  2. Not allowable on chart strings where the Fund ChartField is in the Grants (600), Agency (700).
  3. Journal must balance.
  4. To increase:
    • Expense, enter a positive amount (debit)
    • Revenue, enter a negative amount (credit)
  5. To decrease:
    • Expense, enter a negative amount (credit)
    • Revenue, enter a positive amount (debit)

Agency Journal

Agency funds represent external entities; actual expenses and revenue account codes should be used be used.

  1. Must use at-least one Agency fund code (7 series).
  2. Must use only revenue account code (4 series) and expense account code (7 series) which most accurately reflect the nature of the transaction.
  3. ASRSP approval via workflow will be required on all journals using sponsored funds.
  4. If correcting or adjusting, you must reference original Agency journal.
  5. Journal must balance.
  6. To increase:
    • Expense, enter positive amount
    • Revenue, enter negative amount
  7. To decrease:
    • Expense, enter negative amount
    • Revenue, enter positive amount

Balance Sheet Journal

Balance Sheet Journal previously sent through upload journal which include lines with account codes in the 10000 and 20000 series.

  1. Must use at-least one Balance sheet account code i.e. 1xxxx and/or 2xxxx.
  2. ASRSP approval via workflow will be required for all journals using sponsored funds.
  3. Journal must balance.
  4. To increase:
    • Asset and/or Expense, enter positive amount
    • Liability and/or Revenue, enter negative amount
  5. To decrease:
    • Asset and/or Expense, enter negative amount
    • Liability and/or Revenue, enter positive amount
  6. Attachment required for approvals.

 

Using Accounts in Transfer Journals

Transfer transactions move supporting monies between managing units when a budget transaction cannot be used. Most budget activity can be processed using a Budget Journal via the NUPortal. However, you cannot move “budget” between two different gift or endowment projects. Use the Actuals portal transfer journal for this movement of dollars. Refer to training materials and Transfer Journal Rules for details.

The transfer represents an internal transaction to the university and must be eliminated from the financial statements. To facilitate this elimination, specific pairs of transfer codes must be used to record the internal expense and revenue transactions.

Some codes in the series may be used generically and others are specialized transfer codes. In the prior financial system, codes were setup for movement between fund groups; because these fund groups have been redefined for NUFinancials, new and simplified transfer codes should be used. However, old codes were converted for data conversion purposes. See the Recommended Transfer Account Pairs chart for NUFinancials recommended codes.

Non-mandatory transfers (description NMT) are typical programmatic internal funding transactions. Mandatory transfers (description MT) are typically central office use only. Other special codes may be school based (eg, Feinberg School of Medicine internal transactions).

Resources

Contact Information

Questions About Contact
Journal Processing, transfer transaction processing Accounting services at 847-491-5337
Sponsored project journal approvals

Evanston - Contact Jany Raskina, Expenditure Audit Coordinator, at y-raskina@northwestern.edu or 847-491-4697

Chicago – Contact Rosanna Sian, Senior Accounting Representative, at m-sian@northwestern.edu or 312-503-0835 or contact Cherie Liwanag, Senior Accounting Representative, at cherie-liwanag@northwestern.edu or 312-503-1157