Steps to Test Outstanding Checks

Today, you’ll learn how to test outstanding checks.

Ensuring accuracy and integrity in your financial records is crucial for your business. One important aspect of this is testing outstanding checks.

By thoroughly verifying the validity of outstanding checks, you can reconcile your bank accounts and maintain a clear understanding of your cash flow.

You might also like: Why Outstanding Checks are Subtracted from the Bank Balance

In this post, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of testing outstanding checks, empowering you with the knowledge to maintain pristine financial records.

I. Understand Outstanding Checks

Before you dive into the testing process, it’s essential to grasp the concept of outstanding checks.

Outstanding checks represent checks issued by your company but have not yet been presented to the bank for payment. These checks create a disparity between your cash balance recorded in the books and the cash balance reflected in the bank statement.

II. Gather the Necessary Documents

To kickstart the testing process, gather the following key documents:

1. Bank Reconciliation Statement

This statement encapsulates the list of outstanding checks and their respective amounts.

It serves as a bridge between your records and the bank statement, providing a reconciled balance.

2. Check Register

Your check register will act as your compass for tracking issued checks. It includes crucial details such as check numbers, dates, payees, and amounts.

Ensure that your check register aligns with your general ledger for accurate tracking.

III. Review the Bank Reconciliation Statement

The bank reconciliation statement is your starting point for testing outstanding checks. It provides a summary of transactions, including information about outstanding checks.

Take the time to review the statement and identify any outstanding checks listed carefully.

IV. Cross-Check Your Outstanding Checks

Step 1: Obtain a List of Outstanding Checks from a Bank Reconciliation Statement

Start by requesting a bank reconciliation statement from your bank, which should contain a list of outstanding checks.

Step 2: Check if Outstanding Checks are Recorded in the Books of Accounts

Next, open your accounting software or ledger where you maintain your financial records.

Navigate to the ledger or register where you record check payments.

Ensure that each outstanding check is properly recorded in your books of accounts. This should include the check number, payee, date, and amount.

Step 3: Compare the List to the Bank Statement Using Excel

Open Microsoft Excel and create a new spreadsheet.

In the spreadsheet, create three columns: “Check Number,” “Payee,” and “Amount.”

In the “Check Number” column, list all the outstanding check numbers from the bank reconciliation statement.

In the “Payee” column, enter the names of the payees corresponding to each outstanding check.

In the “Amount” column, enter the amounts associated with each outstanding check.

Step 4: Use the COUNTIF Function to Verify Outstanding Checks

Create a new column titled “Status” next to the existing columns.

In the first cell of the “Status” column, use the COUNTIF function to check if the outstanding check number exists in your records. For example, if your check numbers are in column A, you can use the formula:

=IF(COUNTIF(A:A, A2) > 0, "Recorded", "Not Recorded")

Drag the fill handle (a small square in the lower-right corner of the cell) down to apply this formula to all rows with outstanding checks.

Step 5: Use the VLOOKUP Function to Confirm Outstanding Checks

Create another column titled “VLookup Status.”

In the first cell of the “VLookup Status” column, use the VLOOKUP function to check if the outstanding check number matches your records and return additional details if it does. For example:

=IFERROR(VLOOKUP(A2, YourBookRecordsRange, 2, FALSE), "Not Found")

Replace “YourBookRecordsRange” with the range in your accounting records where you have check numbers and associated payees.

Drag the fill handle down to apply the VLOOKUP function to all rows with outstanding checks.

Step 6: Review and Reconcile

Review the “Status” and “VLookup Status” columns to verify that outstanding checks are either “Recorded” or matched with your records.

Investigate any discrepancies between your records and the bank statement, making necessary adjustments in your books.

Once you’ve reconciled the outstanding checks, your books accurately reflect the bank statement, and you can proceed with financial reporting and decision-making.

By following this step-by-step guide in the second person point of view, you can effectively test outstanding checks to ensure that they are correctly recorded in your books of accounts and match the bank reconciliation statement.

IV. Document the Process

Documenting your testing and reconciliation process is crucial for future reference and audits.

Maintain a clear and organized record of each step, including findings and adjustments made.

This documentation will not only facilitate future audits but also provide a reliable trail of your reconciliation efforts.

Jason John Wethe
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