CARL System in Brief

The CARL System is a unique copyrighted alpha-mnemonic technique of recording business transactions. It was developed by Chartered Accountant, Douglas Thompson, in the 1960’s to overcome the problems of providing more management orientated accountancy services to SME’s. Although computers were not available in the 1960’s, the CARL System was designed to be computer compatible from the outset. Ready for when computers became common place and computer languages became more sophisticated.

It will come as no surprise to learn, that numeric codes for analysing business transactions are very unreliable, compared with an alphabetical code. And this was confirmed by the British Medical Council, who were researching into. an all number telephone dialling system at the same time. They claimed, if they could have had BIR CEN 1234, for BIRmingham CENtral 1234, they would have done so, but what do you do for all the other towns beginning with BIR? The CARL System received their full approval.

However, developing an alphabetical coding structure that would cover every type of business and every eventuality occurring within those businesses, where one businesses management structure and requirements varied from another even in similar trades, and the millions of small businesses involved was no mean fete. Furthermore, before it could be released in todays IT environment, meant a lot of checking to ensure businesses from all walks of life could consistently apply the codes accurately. This has taken fifty years of practical grind and effort before Douglas, decided the consistent accuracy with which businesses all over the country were applying CARL Codes, that he decided to write a computer programme based on the CARL System and techniques.

In its manual form, the CARL System, required the business to forward CARL coded documents to their accountant, where it would be processed. Now, although CARL could be processed in a fraction of the time and cost, associated with incomplete records, the fact remained that all client documents submitted to their accountant created a bottleneck, which generated delays as documents backed up waiting their turn. Douglas reasoned, train the clients to carry out very simple easy to understand tasks and link it to a reliable computer programme was better than wasting time training staff who would change jobs and create a constant retraining exercise.

When client coded information being entered into an inhouse computer programme was consistently correct, it made obvious sense to write a client-based or end user computer programme which was quick and simple for them to implement. Thus, avoiding the bottleneck situation of standing in a queue and waiting for feedback, which could now be provided instantly. As with any new computer programme it will remain to be seen how the end user manages it, but Douglas is confident, if users can operate the manual CARL System successfully for half a century, they will have no problems with the computerised version which incorporates artificial intelligence and is simpler to input data and more immediately informative of the impact of a transaction on the business which will be important when MTD and Brexit kick in.

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