In any database, a field is a placeholder containing specific information. For example, the Customer Name field suggests that the user needs to enter the customer name into the placeholder or field. Because each organisation relies on different information, the need for user defined fields plays an important role when capturing information into your database. These are custom fields that can be created in order allow you to track information specific to certain areas that are not ordinarily used, or as a source of information for users on the system.
User defined fields are possible in most master files such as Customers, Suppliers, Inventory and GL accounts as well as documents like Invoices, Job Cards etc. Currently user defined fields (UDF), or additional fields as Pastel calls them, are possible in documents as part of the header and believe that future versions will come with UDF in line items as well.
What are the Benefits of User Defined Fields?
No accounting software can be a 100% solution for your business as each organisation, and each department within the organisation, tracks different data depending on the services and/or products offered. Where customer information might be important to you, information for each inventory item may be important to someone else. Regardless of which system you decide to purchase, you will still need to configure and customise the areas that make your business unique in the way you run it. User defined fields allow for this customisation.
All user defined fields can be used for reporting purposes, thereby allowing you to track data that you would not normally be able to track using the generic fields that most databases offer.
Depending on data types, you are able to decide on the length and, with numbers, the number of decimal places as well as the input format. For example, you can specify that the Contact Number field has to have 10 digits – an entry of 9 digits will not allow the user to move out of the field and an entry of more than 10 digits will not be possible. On moving out of the field the format of the entered number (10 consecutive numbers) will automatically change to the specified format. E.g. 0317192800 will become either 031 719-2800 or (031) 719-2800.
Data selection options can be confined to a drop down list restricting data entry thereby eliminating human error.
You can decide whether the UDFs are to be a compulsory field or not (forcing a user to enter a value before saving the master file). This allows for accurate data capturing.