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mBase V5 Release Details

mBase 5 was first released in January 2008

New facilities

  1. Improved Bank Statement reconciliation introduced
  2. Email member details facility added
  3. Repetitive billing by day, week, month and year introduced
  4. Member Search facility enhanced (Flag all introduced)
  5. Communication Centre form enhanced (Layout change, Reports facility, email updates)
  6. New support for billing large conglomerates added
  7. Relationships subform replaces Organisations subform on Member form
  8. Organisation statements by relationship introduced
  9. Qualifications subform on Member form enhanced
  10. Support for statement upload for all 4 major banks
  11. Standard Cat facility automatically populates new members with standard categories
  12. Support for NQF and SAQA qualifications interface added
  13. Support for banner graphic added.
  14. Account Structure form added
  15. Membership Category Adjust facility added
  16. Two part combo box lookups enhanced
  17. Accounting budget capture process improved
  18. Error on Book Analysis report fixed (Duplicates suppressed)
  19. Redundant accounting forms removed
  20. Point of Sale process changed

1. Improved Bank Statement reconciliation introduced

In prior versions of mBase, the Cashbook/Journal form showed all ledger transactions, and the Consolidated Ledger form showed those transactions where multiple payments had been consolidated together by the user into a single entry on the bank statement. In theory, the entries in the Consolidated Ledger would be an exact match to the entries on the paper Bank Statement, if the user chose to link the transactions appropriately.  In practice, most users did not use use the somewhat clumsy Consolidated Ledger facility, and consequently could not directly match the transactions in mBase to equivalent entries on their bank statements. Where many ledger transactions were linked to one bank statement entry, it was often difficult to reconcile the total of the ledger transactions to the bank statement entry.

In mBase 5,  the Bank Statement tab on the the Cashbook/Journal form consists of the Bank Statement subform and the Ledger and Billing Transactionssubform. Entries on the Bank Statement subform will exactly mirror the entries on the paper Bank Statement. For each Bank Statement entry there will be one or more Ledger and Billing Transactions, showing how the Bank Statement Entry is made up. Thus, on one form you can view your bank statement details, and the allocation of that bank statement entry within your ledger.

On the All Transactions tab you can still view all the individual transactions making up that particular cashbook, as before.

Generally, the user will load the latest bank statement from the appropriate bank's website into mBase. This statement's details will appear on the Bank Statement subform. These bank statement entries in mBase will be reconciled to the paper bank statement using the Book Total field and the Running Sum facility. Then the new entries will be allocated to appropriate ledger accounts and billing items on the Ledger and Billing Transactions subform. Bank statement entries that have not been fully allocated are displayed in green in the Allocated column, in black if correctly allocated, and in red if over allocated.  Once all entries have been correctly allocated, the Book Total on the Bank Statement tab should match the Book Total on the All Transactions tab.

The Bill Search facility (invoked by clicking the Allocate button on the appropriate Bank Statement entry) allows a bank deposit to be quickly and simply linked to one or many associated bill items.

See the Accounting Overview for a full discussion of the new facility. 

Existing ledger transactions need to be converted to the new format before implementing mBase 5. This process is part of the upgrade service offered by Base Software.

2. Email member details facility added

The facility to bulk email a member's current details directly to that member's email address has been introduced.  A set of members with whom you wish to communicate is selected in the normal way (on the Search form, the Member Category form, etc), the Communication Centre is invoked, and the Email Updates button is clicked. mBase will construct a unique email for each member in the selected set containing their current details (Name, address, phones, etc), and will dispatch that email to their email address. On receipt of the email, the member can then inspect their details without the need to open an attachment, and can fill in changed details directly by choosing to Reply to the received email.

3. Repetitive billing by day, week, month and year introduced

Some clients may need to bill their members for certain bill items on a regular, repetitive basis, such as weekly or monthly. A Frequency can now be specified for a Bill Item, choosing from Once, Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Quarterly or Annual. The default is Once, meaning that repetitive billing will not be applied. If any other frequency is selected, a Start Date and End Date for the Bill Item must be specified. Beginning on the Start Date, and on each subsequent anniversary (week, month, etc), 1 will be added to the Quantity field for each member registered for that Bill Item, until the End Date

For example, if 3 members are registered for the Bill Item Monthly Subs (which has a frequency of monthly specified)starting in January 2008 and ending in December 2008, then in January the quantity for that Bill Item for each of the 3 members will be 1. On the anniversary of the start date, in February, 1 will be added to the quantity for the Bill Item for each of the 3 members, which will now be 2, and so on for the rest of the year. Thus, the amount owed by the 3 members will steadily increase throughout the year, and will be set off against payments received.

Each time mBase is opened a procedure runs to update all repetitive Bill Items, if repetitive billing is being used.

4. Member Search facility enhanced (Flag all introduced)

The facility to flag all the members appearing as the result of a particular search has been added. This facility can be used in numerous ways to combine sets of members. For example, if you wished to email all members of membership type Affiliate and Associate, then simply search on Member Category Affiliate, click the Flag All button, then search on Member Category Associate, and click the Flag All button again. Now clear the search line (by clicking the Clearbutton), then click in the yellow Flag search box (underneath the X button, on the left of the Search line), to select all members previously flagged. A list of members in the Affiliate and Associate member categories will appear. You may inspect this list, de-select specific members if so desired, or add additional members by searching for and flagging them. Finally, click on the Communicate button to email the selected list.

The set of flagged members should always be cleared before starting a selection process. This is done by clicking the X button, on the left of the Search line. Please note that if 2 users are using the flag facility simultaneously, there activities may overlap each other.

5. Communication Centre form enhanced

The Communication Centre form has been simplified and enhanced. Only those Control fields of direct relevance to the communication process are displayed. The layout of the buttons is now more consistent. The Reports and Output to Excel combo boxes have been added.

Specific mBase Reports have been modified to obtain their record sets from the current selection (made via the Search form, Member Category form, etc). This means that a report can be produced where the contents of the report (generally a set of members) is defined by, for example, the records on the Searchform, rather than the currently selected Member, say. For example, the Award Certificate report, which appears on the Reports combo box, can now be printed for those flagged members on the Search form, as opposed to the currently selected member on the Member form.

The Output to Excel combo box allows the member records in the currently selected record set to be output to Excel, using a query template you may select. The default qryXL template displays all the member details, but other specialised queries may also be designed.

Emails derived from HTML templates may now be sent using the Jmail facility.

6. New support for billing large conglomerates added 

Support for bulk billing of large conglomerates who pay for individual members  has been added. Some associations have many members who work for large conglomerates such as ABSA or Eskom. Commonly these large conglomerates have many branches, and an individual member is associated with a particular branch. In mBase the branch name is taken on as an organisation, and the conglomerate name is taken on as an Organisation Category. All the branches for a single conglomerate are linked via the Organisation Category - Organisations subform.

In some cases the conglomerate  will pay for membership of the association on behalf of its employees. Under these circumstances a single invoice addressed to the conglomerate  needs to be produced which lists all the eligible employees by branch, for the bill item involved (e.g. Membership 2008). In some cases this report might run to several hundred pages.  On receipt of this report the conglomerate's accounts department must verify that the members billed are still employed and eligible for payment. Having marked the exclusions appropriately on the report, this document is returned to the association where the appropriate adjustments to member records are made. A final copy of the conglomerate billing report is produced, along with a single line invoice, showing the total amount owed by the conglomerate. On receipt of this payment, all the members involved can be credited with their individual payments in a single allocation step.

See the Conglomerate Billing topic for the detailed steps in this process.

A similar facility exists on the Organisation form to manage the billing and payment of multiple members for a single organisation.

7. Relationships subform replaces Organisations subform on Member form

The Organisations subform on the Member form was used to show the organisations to which a member was related. This form has been renamed theRelationships subform, and its scope has been widened to show any relationship between members, and between members and organisations. For example, if one member is the daughter of another member, this relationship can be recorded on this form. A new report on the Member - Reports tab called Member Relationships shows all the relationships of the selected member to other members and organisations.

8. Organisation statements by relationship introduced

If an organisation agrees to pay the membership fees for specific members, this relationship can be shown on the Member - Relationships subform. A new report on the Organisation - Reports tab allows an Organisation statement/invoice to be prepared which only shows those members with the specified relationship to the organisation (e.g. "Paid for by").

9. Qualifications subform on Member form enhanced

The Subjects subform on the Member form has been removed, and is now incorporated in the Qualifications subform.  Double-clicking on the desired qualification will open a window showing all the related subjects for this member. New subjects can be added on this subform. When adding new subjects, only the elective or optional subjects for this qualification will be displayed, as the obligatory subjects are automatically added when the qualification is added for this member.

10. Support for statement upload for all 4 major banks

Previously each client's version of the mBase statement download had to be specially tailored to the particular bank they were using. In addition, if a client used 2 or more different banks, different download queries would have to be added. Now, support for all 4 major banks has been incorporated in the download facility.

mBase Clients must document their download procedures from their particular bank(s) themselves, as these procedures vary per bank and per client. Once the .csv file has been successfully downloaded, the bank statement append instructions can be followed for all banks.

11. Standard Cat facility automatically populates new members with standard categories

When adding a new member it can be quite tedious to allocate all the categories relevant to that member, particularly if your association uses many supercategories. You can now mark a category as a Standard category, on the Member Category form. On the Member - Categories subform, you can click the Add Std Cats button to add all categories previously marked as standard, for this member. Where the standard categories do not apply to this member, you can either modify or delete them. 

When a new category is added, the name of the category is now automatically copied into the Notes field, in case the name is inadvertently deleted or changed.

12. Support for NQF and SAQA qualifications interface added

SAQA requires all organisations that provide or administer training to report these activities in a specific format. This reporting facility is now available in mBase.

The set of students on which you wish to report is selected (using Search, Member Category, etc), the Communication Centre is invoked, and the appropriate Excel output format is selected on the Output to Excel combo box. These formats are named qryXLSAQAAchievementsqryXLSAQAPeopleand qryXLSAQAQualifications.

Equivalent SAQA codes for the appropriate Member Categories, Qualifications and Subjects must have been previously setup on the appropriate mBase forms.

To fully qualify a student for SAQA, the following supercategories must be setup and populated for each student: Citizen Resident Status, Race, Geographical area, Home language, Nationality, SocioEconomic status, Disabilities and Gender. The required categories in each supercategory are defined in the SAQA interface document.

13. Support for banner graphic added.

Many associations have a specific banner graphic that they use as a letterhead on their stationery. In the past, mBase used a square 3 by 3 cm logo and the name and details of the association to form a banner at the top of the statement/invoice and other reports sent to members. This has now been replaced by a 3.5 by 16.5 cm banner whose design is entirely under the control of the client. This banner is now used at the tops of reports which may be sent to association members.

This banner may be loaded on the new Banner subform on the Association form, in either .gif or .bmp format.  All clients converting to mBase 5 will need to populate this field.  Base Software will provide assistance where necessary.

14. Account Structure form added

mBase has a powerful 4-tier account structure. Ledger Accounts are grouped into Account Types (eg Conference Revenue, Subscription Revenue), which are themselves gathered into Account Groups (eg Income, Expenditure), which are finally grouped into Account Structure headings (eg, Equity & Liabilities, Assets).  Most ledger reports are produced using this account hierarchy. A new form has been introduced which allows the accountant to view and modify the various levels of this structure. This form is found on the Accounting menu with name Account Structure.

15. Membership Category Adjust facility added

mBase clients frequently wish to re-organise their member category structures, as circumstances change. Generally this involves moving all the people in one category into another category, then deleting the now empty original category. Usually this would be done by Base Software using purpose written queries. A new form has been designed which allows the suitably authorised mBase user to do this category adjustment themselves without specialist intervention.  TheMemcat Adjust form is found on the Special menu.

This form must be used with suitable caution as the changes are not reversible, except by restoring a backup copy of the database.

16. Two part combo box lookups enhanced

Two part combo boxes are used in many places within the mBase product. For example, on the Member Category form, you select the supercategory in the search combo box at the top right of the form, then select the associated categories in the adjacent box to the right. This two part search appeared to confuse many users, who opted instead to use the more cumbersome one part category search. 

Now, whenever the left side of a two part search is selected, the right side combo box is automatically opened and the cursor is placed in the box, ready for the second selection to be made.

17. Accounting budget capture process improved

Capturing budgets on the Account - MIS Budgets subform was relatively tedious. By defaulting the date, description and budget fields to their last captured values, this process has been significantly improved. Double clicking on the budget date field increases the month value by 1, making the capture of monthly budgets quicker.

18. Error on Book Analysis report fixed (Duplicates suppressed)

A fairly subtle error in the SQL code for the Book Analysis report found on the Cashbook - Reports subform resulted in certain transactions not appearing on the report. If two identical transactions occurred (same date, description, ledger account, amount and tax value), only 1 transaction would be shown. This would cause the report to be out of balance with the transactions appearing in that cash book for that period. This error has now been fixed.

19. Redundant accounting forms removed

With the implementation of the new Bank Statement subform, certain other accounting forms are no longer required.  Thus, the Point of Sale form and theAccounting Capture form are no longer available.

20. Point of Sale process changed

With the implementation of the new Bank Statement subform, the Point of Sale process has been considerably simplified. The Paymethod is now specified directly on the bank  statement entry,  with a choice of Cash, Cheque, Credit Card and EFTS. The POS Reconciliation report on the Cashbook - Reportstab lists all transactions for the current book grouped by Paymethod, allowing a simple reconciliation to cash on hand, cheques, and credit card vouchers.

See the Point of Sale procedure for a full description of this process.

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