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Virgo Accounts

Getting Started

This is an introduction to Virgo Accounts. You should read all of this document before attempting to install the software or use it for the first time. Virgo Accounts is a trademark of Irwin Associates. All other trademarks and registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

1. Overview of the System

Virgo Accounts is a single-user accounting system designed primarily for the one to three partner solicitor’s practice. In particular it has been designed to comply with solicitors’ accounting regulations of England and Wales and to conform with the requirements of Legal Aid franchising.

2. System Requirements

The system will run on any PC running DOS or most 32-bit versions of Windows*, with a minimum of 640kb RAM, a hard disk and a printer. The system requires about 2½Mb of free disk space. Ideally the printer should be connected to the first parallel port (LPT1); however, since parallel ports and parallel port printers are no longer manufactured, one of the work-rounds will probably need to be employed.

*Virgo Accounts will not run directly under 64-bit editions of Windows. If you have a 64-bit edition of Windows you will need to install a virtual machine or an emulator such as DOSBox.

Care should be taken not to start two copies of the software running as this may cause corruption to the database.

3. Installing the System

Installation of the software is a simple procedure. The installation routine will load all the software onto your hard disk and, following a series of prompts, set up most of the parameters required to get started quickly and easily. Ensure you put the media in your drive correctly and in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If you received a CD-ROM or mini-CD the installation routine should start automatically after you place the disk in your CD drive. Follow the on-screen prompts to install the software. Unless you select a different drive and folder the software will be installed in a folder named DTM on your C: drive; having selected the drive and folder in which to install the software click the UnZip button.

Once all the software and files are copied and extracted the system will start Virgo Accounts. You will be asked to input details of your PaperKey certificate; enter the details exactly as they are shown on the Open M/DTM license key.

When you start Virgo Accounts for the first time you will be asked for details specific to your practice. Simply follow the prompts given on the screen, answering the questions presented to complete the installation. You will be asked for the following details:

  • Practice name: enter the name of the firm (alternatively, press Esc if you decide you would rather input these details at a later time);
  • Practitioner: enter the name of the principal fee earner/senior partner;
  • S/W licence: enter the Virgo Accounts software licence number given in your Welcome letter;
  • VAT cash base: enter Y if the firm is on a cash basis for VAT, or N if on a bills raised basis; if the practice is not registered for VAT enter Y;
  • Time units: enter the number of minutes in a time unit for time recording (this is often 6 – one tenth of an hour – although it may be any value between 1 and 99);
  • Std fee rate: enter your standard hourly fee rate in £s for non Legal Aid activities;
  • Next year-end: enter the date of your next financial year-end.

Enter U - Update or press F5 to update. Once the installation is complete remove the installation disk and keep it in a safe place.

4. Getting Started

Before using the system you should read the rest of this document, as well as the initial section of the user manual. The user manual is on the Virgo Accounts website and may be printed if necessary.

You are also advised to run Print System Parameters to get a list of the parameters and check that all details are correct. To amend any of the details select the appropriate program from the System Maintenance menu. You may also input any additional fee earners, bank accounts (or other cashbook accounts such as petty cash, credit card or deposit accounts), nominal ledger accounts, activity codes and charge groups at this stage.

On installation the system is set up for summarised time entries. If you wish to hold detailed time entries, use Maintain System Parameters to amend the detailed time indicator to Y. If the practice is not registered for VAT use Maintain System Parameters to amend the VAT rate to 0 – the VAT rate has no accounting function; it is used simply to provide a default VAT amount for postings.

You will need to input your clients and matters before making any financial entries (other than nominal ledger entries). It might also be wise to input the opening balances for your cashbooks. You must also input the client interest rates before posting any client account transactions. For details of how to insert and amend details, refer to the appropriate program documentation in the user manual.

It is worth spending a little time considering how you wish to number your clients and matters. Two options – by no means the only ones – are, for clients:

  1. sequentially number each client, so the first is 1, the second 2, etc (or 001, 002, etc.); or
  2. use the first letter of the client’s name followed by a number, eg. J1 or J001 for the first client with a name beginning with J, etc.

And, for matters:

  1. sequentially number each matter for a client; or
  2. code the matters by type of work, eg. matters numbered 100 to 199 could be conveyancing matters and 200 to 299 matrimonial, etc.

Note that leading zeros are significant in both client and matter codes; eg. 1, 01, 001 and 0001 all refer to different clients or matters.

Setting up opening balances needs careful consideration with any accounts system. Guidelines are given in Appendix D of the user manual. You may wish to consult your accountant as to how best to set up the details for your needs.

5. Running the System

To start Virgo Accounts from the DOS/Command prompt enter the following commands:

cd\dtm
virgo95

To create a desktop icon under most versions of Windows click the right mouse button on the desktop, select New, then Shortcut. In the command line enter c:\dtm\virgo95.bat (assuming you installed the system in the default directory; if not then enter the drive and directory into which you installed the software in place of c:\dtm) and select Next. For the name enter Virgo Accounts and select Next. Choose an icon from those displayed and select Finish.

Once the system is started you will be presented with the main menu. For normal tasks there are just two levels of menu. To select an option type the number corresponding to the option you require and press Enter. To return to the main menu from a sub-menu press Enter or Esc.

To exit Virgo Accounts enter 0 at the main menu or press Alt+F4. Always ensure that you exit Virgo Accounts before switching off your computer. Failure to do so could cause corruption of the database. If you accidentally switch off without exiting or suffer a power failure then you should run Consistency (refer to paragraph 9.2 of the user manual) the next time the system is started, answering N to all options except Compress?, to which the response should be Y. You are stongly advised to run Consistency on a regular basis in any case, at least monthly, responding Y to all options.

6. Backing Up Your Data

It cannot be emphasised strongly enough the importance of taking regular backups of your data. A comprehensive backup regime can help avoid the loss of information that may result from a computer system failure or theft. Loss of certain information from your computer may be a small inconvenience, but loss of accounting data is likely to cause significant difficulties. If you make a significant posting error or the system becomes corrupt you should attempt to restore from backups before all else.

There are many options for backing up depending on your hardware configuration and your version of Windows. Each option has advantages and drawbacks. You may wish to use special backup software, or you can simply copy your data to CD, DVD or USB memory stick using Windows Explorer (hint: to start Windows Explorer press and hold down the WinKey Winkey and press E).

To backup your accounting data you may copy just the two files named user-gbl.dat and user-gbl.ind. However, you might find it easier and it could certainly prove advantageous to copy all the files in the Virgo Accounts directory.

The frequency you perform backups will depend on the throughput of transactions. If you make a significant number of postings each day then you should take a backup daily. If you have fewer transactions you may be able to rely on weekly backups.

Whichever way you choose to perform backups, always use more than a single disk or USB stick and use them in rotation. For example, if you take daily backups then you could have one disk or stick for each day of the week, labelled MONDAY, TUESDAY etc; if you backup on a weekly basis you should use at least three disks or sticks, labelled WEEK 1, WEEK 2 and WEEK 3. You should also have additional disks or sticks for use before running period-end and year-end processing.

And remember to keep your backups in a safe place away from your computer, so if the worse does happen you don’t lose your backups as well as your computer!

7. Improving Performance

If you are running Virgo Accounts under Windows XP (but not later versions) and are using your accounts PC for other things as well you may find that the performance is pretty poor. We recommend a third-party add-on product TameDOS to improve performance. You can obtain a 30-day trial version at www.tamedos.com. Please note that I cannot offer support for Tame, although support is available from the supplier.