How it Works - Page 1 of 3
Collating and distributing transactions - Where offices are not permanently connected to each other
A fundamental part of the ERA is its ability to keep each branch updated with the transactions entered at all the other branches. This means that staff at all branches have access to up to date time, costs and billing information for all engagements throughout the company.
This section describes how this is achieved where branches of the company - or some of them - are not permanently connected such as with a wide area network.
Branches and Central
The ERA is a full client/server system. Each branch has an ERA Server program which would normally be located on the network server at the branch. Each branch has its own ERA dataset. This would normally, but not necessarily, also be on the branch network server.
The ERA requires that one of the ERA servers acts as a Central ERA server, which would normally be located at the Head Office or the company's principal accounting office ('Central'). This provides the same services for staff at Central and additionally controls the collection and dissemination of data throughout the company wide ERA system.
Branch data entry
Staff at each branch enter data for their branches time, costs, billings etc. All transactions are updated to the branch dataset as they are entered. The same applies to transactions at Central.
Branch data collation
Periodically the Server at each branch collates together all the transactions from its branch dataset that have been entered since it last did a 'collation'. These are compressed and encrypted into a file for despatch. This file is then made available for transmission to Central.
Central data collation
Periodically the Central ERA server collects all the files despatched by the branches, checks them for validity, decrypts them and extracts the transactions from them. These are merged with Central's own data set which will, normally, also have had transactions entered since the last merging.
Distribution from the centre
After completing the merge the Central ERA server then collates together all the transactions from the branches it has just merged plus its own recent transactions. It puts them all together in a single file that can be sent back to all the branches so that they can each update their own systems with all the latest information. The transactions are compressed and encrypted into a file ready for despatch back to the branches.