Financial Reporting, NetSuite, Reporting

Understand the Date and Posting Period in NetSuite

The posting period (or the accounting period) is a new concept for accounting teams transitioning from QuickBooks to NetSuite. NetSuite financial statements are prepared based on the posting period, not the date. Both these fields are on all financial transactions in NetSuite. This article discusses the differences between these two fields, why it is important to understand them, and the options available to modify how reports are prepared.

The Date Field

The date field is a standard field to record the transaction's date. Straightforward. This is a required field on all transactions in both QuickBooks and NetSuite.

There is one distinction between the two systems. In QuickBooks, an admin can lock other users from posting activity before a certain date. Here are the instructions for QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop.

I’m unaware of any native NetSuite date restrictions (unless the "allow transaction date outside of posting period" is set to allow or warn; more on that topic below). You could build a workflow to prevent future dated transactions.

The Posting Period Field

The posting period field defines when a transaction is posted to the general ledger. In NetSuite, a posting period is a predefined monthly period used to organize transactions. Posting periods correspond to the company's fiscal year. Users can create posting periods on the “Manage Accounting Periods” page, which can be found under Setup → Accounting → Manage Accounting Periods. The posting period can be future or past, depending on the close status of the period.

In NetSuite, locking the posting period is how users close financial periods. In QuickBooks, there is no concept of a posting period. Transactions are recorded based on the date field alone. 

Posting Period Settings

There are two primary period settings for users to understand. These settings are under the Setup → Accounting → Accounting Settings menu.

Allow Transaction Date Outside Of Posting Period

This setting limits whether a transaction date can be outside the posting period’s date range. A common example is when a vendor sends a bill dated in a closed accounting period.

Users can keep the original bill date while keeping the accounting period financials closed using the period functionality.

The options available for this setting are:

  • Disallow → The date must be within the accounting period date range

  • Warn → Users will receive a warning that the transaction date is outside the period date range.

  • Allow → There is no warning about date/period mismatches

Default Posting Period When Transaction Date In Closed Period

This setting determines the posting period transactions will go to when the default period is closed. The options are:

  • Current Period → The transaction will default to the period of the current date. Note that this is the default setting.

  • First Open Period → The transaction will default to the first available open period.

For example, you create a journal entry with a date of 1/1/2019, but there is no Jan 2019 posting period. Here is what happens under each option:

  • Under the Current Period option, this would fall on Aug 2023 (the date this article was published)

  • Under the First Open Period option, this would fall on the next available open period. Let's say you are implementing NetSuite, and the first open period is Jan 2023.

How the Date and Posting Period impact NetSuite Reports

Financial reports are built on the transaction's posting period. All other reports are based on the transaction date. This NetSuite help article includes a full list of financial reports.

New NetSuite users are often concerned that their accounts receivable or payable subledger report does not match the financial statements. A date/period mismatch often drives this variance. The trial balance is a financial report. The subledger aging report is a report, which by default, is based on the transaction date.

Individual users can change the report settings. Keep in mind that these are user settings, not global organization settings. All users would need to implement these.

To change the report settings:

  • Hover over the home icon on the top left side of the banner

  • Click the “Set Preferences” option

  • Click the “Analytics” subtab

  • Under the “Reports by Period” dropdown, you can select from the following options:

    • Financials Only (default) → Only financial reports are prepared based on the posting period

    • All reports → All reports are prepared based on the posting period

    • Never → All reports, including financial statements, are prepared based on the date range, not the posting period.

Approval Workflows and the Posting Period

Clients often have approval workflows for financial transactions. Users should always ensure that all transactions are approved before locking the period. Otherwise, a transaction might get posted in the next open period accidentally. Every workflow is different. So, be sure to assess this in your unique NetSuite instance.

Conclusion

Understanding the differences between NetSuite's date and posting period fields is crucial for efficient financial reporting. You can use NetSuite's reporting functionality by using the date and posting period fields correctly. If you are coming from QuickBooks, it is important to note that NetSuite's posting period functionality is a key difference you must know. If you want additional NetSuite tips & tricks, check out my reporting resource page or sign up for my virtual accounting saved search course today!

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