Accounting is an information system that identifies, records, communicates the economic events of an organization to interested users. The success, growth and survival of any business depend on great extent on the quality of decision made by management. This decision depends on the quality and timeliness of the information provide by good accounting information. Information from a good source is competitively necessary for every business requiring a successful ending. This becomes imperative for every Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) to manage good information which entails, the installation of sound accounting information to guide and support the decision making process.
It has been recognised that appropriate accounting information is essential for a successful management of any business entity, whether large or small (European Commission 2008). As defined by the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN (2011), SMEs is classified according to asset base and the number of employees. The criteria of an asset base is between N5 million and N500 million, and staff strength between 10 to 100 employees. European define small and medium Enterprise as the categories of micro, small and medium–sized enterprise which made up of enterprises which have an annual turnover not exceeding 50 million euro and/or an annual balance sheet (statement of financial position) total not exceeding 43 million euro, European Commission (2008).
However SMEs have been very important to the growth and development of any country. Because of role it plays, this research will assess the level of usefulness of accounting information toward evaluating the performance of SME in Akwa Ibom State. Primarily, the role of accounting is to collect and communicate data that can be used for analysis and decision making, (Ethredge, Shane, and Smith, 1995).
The International Accounting Standard Committee (IASC) Frame-work identifies the principles, and qualities of accounting information to include; understanability, relevance, reliability and comparability. Federation of Accounting Standard Board (FASB), frame-work also provides the same characteristic.
It is noted that, most SME does acknowledge the importance of proper record keeping in their operation. According to Oladejo (2008), the achievement of the firm’s objective is greatly influenced by the application of accounting records. But some challenges are inadequate infrastructural facilities and inability of most business firms to demand accounting system adequate to them for their need. The author concluded that, the accounting record has contributed immensely to the unprecedented rate in the growth of small business in identifying the expenses, income, and profit or loss of a firm at the end of an accounting year (usually 12 months).
Even though most SMEs prepare financial reports for statutory purposes, many fail to use accounting report. Small and medium enterprise owners/managers either lack the technique for using financial statements or simply are unaware that they can use them to support the financial decisions. These show that, poor record keeping and inefficient use of accounting information are major causes of the small and medium size enterprises failure (Berryman 1982 from Walton 2000).
The misuse and inaccurate accounting information causes small and medium size enterprises to assess their financial situation, and make poor financial decisions, as well as leads them to high failure rate (Byron and Friedlob (1984). Small and medium firms should recognize that accounting information can be a valuable component of a company management and decision-making systems for financial data, and provides the ultimate indicator of the failure or success of a business strategic direction.
The performance of small scale enterprises however , indicates that their expected important role can be achieved through variables including the implementation of fundamental managerial expertise such as basic business accounting, which can serve as an important base for financial planning and controlling; most especially in the function of forestall cash flow problems.
1.1. Statement of the Problem
The quality of accounting information influences decision making which in turn affect the performance level of small and medium size enterprises. Research on Small and Medium Enterprise development shows that lack of reliable accounting information provided by SME is a problem in developed and developing countries, (UNCTAD.2001) and that rate of failure in developing countries is higher than in developed world, Arinaitwe (2002). The research further suggests poor financial management as a major cause of business failure, Berryman (1993), and quality information is critical to organizations’ success in today’s competitive environment, Hongjiang Xu, (2004). In Uganda, according to research, the poor level of record keeping, and insufficient used of accounting information to support financial decision making are the major causes of the SMEs failure. Berryman (1997) quoted in Walton (2000) shows that, poor performance and failure exhibited by SME in Uganda could be due to lack of quality accounting information.
In Nigeria, this is not exemption. The fact underlying the success of a business enterprise is the establishment and application of controls by their owners or management in addition to the systematic record keeping of business transactions which is at the end of the period keeps the owner well informed about performance of the business. Several challenges occur that hamper the growth of SMEs in Akwa Ibom State resulting from the inaccurate use of accounting information system which is expected to enable a fair preparation and presentation of accounting statement, to allow them meet their operational obligation.
1.2. Objectives of the Study
This research focuses on investigating the types of accounting records being kept and maintained by SMEs, and their completeness and the availability of accounting skills and knowledge to capture, and process accounting information which can be used to measure performance in SMEs. The study specifically aims to achieve the following:
- To identify the types of accounting records being kept and maintained by SMEs.
- To investigate the extent to which accounting information is being used in measuring financial performance by SMEs.
- To determine the completeness of accounting records being kept by SMEs as a source of information for economic decision making.
- To identify the fundamental accounting skills needed by SMEs in Akwa Ibom State for sustainable development.
1.3. Research Questions.
As a guide to investigate the types of accounting information in SMEs in Akwa Ibom State, the following questions are developed:
- What type of accounting records are being kept by small and medium enterprises?
- To what extent do SMEs use accounting information in measuring financial performance?
- Do SMEs keep complete and accurate accounting records of business transaction for decision making?
- What are the levels or skills of accounting professionals employed in SMEs in Akwa Ibom State?
1.4. Research Hypotheses.
The research hypothesis is stated as follows in a null form.
- Ho: SME operators do not keep accounting records.
- Ho: SME operators do not use accounting information.
- Ho: SMEs has no complete and accurate accounting records.
- Ho: SME operators do not employed skilled accounting professionals.
1.5 Significance of the Study
The significance of this research are to serve as a guide to owner-managers, participants in SMEs operation as follows:
- To provide information towards lasting solution to poor quality accounting information and potential good performance.
- To enable owner-managers of SMEs and the general public grasp the value of quality of accounting information as a pillar for sound decision making and good performance in SMEs.
- The research on completion would be relevance to selected small and medium business enterprises in that it will help them to improve on their accounting system thereby improving performance.
- To make contribution to the existing body of knowledge on performance and thus stimulate further research in both quality of accounting information and performance.
1.6. Scope and Limitation of the Study.
The research is limited to few small and medium enterprises in Uyo, Ikot Ekpene and Abak L.G.A, Akwa Ibom State. These include:
- Victory Live-stocks, Aka Etinan Road, Uyo.
- Fonex Pharmacy Aka Road, Uyo,
- Unfailing Vet nary Service, 83 Aka Road, Uyo.
- Top care pharmacy, Abak Road, Uyo.
- Morning Star Suppermarket, 32 Itu Road, Uyo.
- Sunshine Supermarket, 85 Atan Street, Uyo.
- Gotijos Poultry Farm, Obio Etoi, Uyo.
- Central Supermarket, No. 57 Oron Road, Uyo.
- Aniekan Shopping Centre, 34, Uyo.
- Ete-Ekpe Petroleum, Abak Road, Uyo.
- Total Oil , Abak Road, Uyo,
- Newiet Poultry and Vet. Service, No. 125 Ikot Ekpene Road Uyo
- Uncle Geei Resortz, No 87 Aka Etinan Road, Uyo,
- Tevoli Hotel No. 17 Nsit Lane , Uyo,
- Divine Favour Shop and Save No. 190 Ikot Ekpene Road .Uyo,
- Ability Supermarket, No. 340, Oron Road, Uyo.
- Ntep Shopping Mull, No 107 Oron Road, Uyo,
- Scripture Union Nursery and Primary School, No. 37 Ikot Abasi Street, Uyo,
- Redeption Academy, No. 34 International Stadium Road, Obio Etoi, Uyo,
- Holland Electronic, No.9 Nepa Line, Uyo,
- His Grace Pharmacy , No 100 Abak Road, Uyo,
- Uchanna Poultry and Vet. Service, No. 21 Umoaya Road, Ikot Ekpene,
- A-Z Petroleum, Uyo Road, Ikot Epkene,
- Chekwoemeka Supermarket, No. 11 Nto-Akpan, Ikot Ekpene,
- Super-Joga Motor Spare Part, No 13 Umobot, Ikot Ekpene
- Tower of Ivery Coast, Edieno-Abak, Abak,
- Goodnews Hotel and Accommodation, Hospital Road, Abak,
- Itohowo & Son, Mmidim Road, Abak,
- Joyce Resturant, No 58 Ikot Ekpene Road, Abak,
- Ezze Electrical Store, No. 20 Ikot Ekpene Road, Abak.
1.7 Definition of Terms Use in the Study
Some of the term used in the study and their meaning:
ACCOUNTING: is the process of identifying, analysing, measuring, recording, summarizing, and communicating relevant economic information to interested users.
AIS: means Accounting Information System.