My property, plant and equipment list – by invoices or by assets

I could ask if you’re using assets or invoices. If the invoices are for unique assets on their own and not one single asset consists of two or more invoices, then sure, let it be. However, there are pitfalls if the latter is not so and some assets comprise of various invoices.

I understand why such a situation would arise – lack of system support, i.e. you keep your list in Excel, lack of time to compile actual assets from all the invoices you’ve capitalized etc. Matter of fact is however that it’s not a preferred way to treat your PPE assets even if it seems perfectly okay for you. 

The first two things that come to mind why such a situation is never good are the depreciation of assets and the disposals. Let me make it clear, it’s a problem if you don’t keep any count of specific assets and you just capitalize invoices you think or sort of know belong to some asset or you consider as expenses that should be capitalized.

Say you’re depreciating an asset and it now gets a module or whatever, some improvement that you will only use as long as you use the asset – what’s the useful life for this new enhancement? You will not know that unless you keep a list of assets.

The same applies to write-off. If there’s an asset you’ve determined you will no longer use, what will you write off from the list of invoices? Again, you will not know that unless you keep a list of determined assets with their cost and carrying value.

One solution, to keep it both simple and still reasonable for accounting purposes, is to determine for each invoice an asset number it relates to. Yes, for this you need to define the assets and give numbers to them, but you can still just keep a list of invoices. Excel tools will enable you to filter through such a list if you’ve got a defined asset included with each and every invoice entry.