Accounting information systems consist of data inputs and outputs. When data is entered into the system, the data is sorted into informational outputs that a company can use to record and analyze a variety of business activities. Sales, purchases, employees and inventory are all examples of items an accounting information system can track and produce reports on. While the size of an accounting information system depends on the specific needs of the business, there are several types of standard outputs from the system that all companies use.

Financial Statements

A company’s set of financial statements consists of profitand loss, cash flow and income statements, as well as balance sheets. Internally, business managers and owners use financial statements to get an overview of operational activity. External users, such as lenders and investors, use financial statements to gauge the net worth and creditworthiness of the company. Profit and loss statements show revenue and expenses and the net profit or loss that remains after expenses have been subtracted from revenue. Profit and loss statements may show revenue that has not yet been collected and expenses that have not yet been paid. Because of this, a cash flow statement is used to show physical income and expenses that have been collected and paid out. Balance sheets show a company’s assets and liabilities and an income statement details the amounts and sources of the company’s revenue. Accounting information systems can output any one of the financial statements for various periods, including real-time, daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually. Customized reports for specific date ranges can also be created.


When sales data is input into the system, the system produces an invoice so the customer who placed the order can be billed. Invoices show the date of the sale, the items or services purchased by the customer and the per-item and total price extended to the customer. Invoices are used to track inventory and revenue activity and should be kept with business bookkeeping records for audits, customer questions and management verifications.


After a customer pays his invoice, the date and amount of payment are entered into the system. Payment information is matched with the invoice that was paid. In the event a customer has more than one open invoice, this process helps track and post payments correctly. When payment information is entered, the accounting information system generates a receipt. Receipts should be provided to customers and also retained with business records for bookkeeping purposes.

Management Information

While management may use any of the accounting system's outputs for internal decisions, accounting information systems can produce other types of reports that are important specificalyl to managers. For example, each time an order is placed by a customer, the inventory or parts used to fill the order are updated in the system. Management can use this information to determine when orders should be placed for new inventory or materials. Additional examples of management information outputs may include performance reports, payroll reports and delivery schedules.