I was once the CFO of a construction company that had way too many revenue and expense accounts in its accounting system.
This firm regularly installed underground utilities (high-pressure gas, water, and sewer lines). The person who set up this company’s accounting system created an expense category not only for every type and size of underground pipe, but also for every possible depth that the pipe could be buried. So you had a master category for 5” DIP (ductile iron pipe), but following the master category you had “5 Inch DIP –6 Inch Trench, 5 Inch DIP –12 Inch Trench”, 5 Inch DIP –18 Inch Trench”, etc.
At this firm, the project managers were responsible for coding invoices before they were entered into the accounting system. Coding an invoice is where you determine the expense category or categories an invoice should be recoded to. Having project managers’ code invoices is a control many construction companies use to insure that vendors are billing for the correct items and quantities for a job.
Over 95% of the codes at this construction company were never used by the project managers. Instead, the project managers would code the invoices to the master category (i.e., 5 Inch DIP) so they wouldn’t have to waste time researching the correct trench depth, or depths, code(s) for each individual invoice.
This company would have been better served if they had implemented an accounting system that only had master categories of expenses, because these were the accounts the project managers used.