The Project Cost Account (PCA) System is a university-wide system that allows UW departments to monitor expenditures, report revenue, payroll and track other financial data.  PCA codes are created, set up and maintained by UW departments.

PCA allows departments to:

  • Develop and maintain a project coding structure, called the Chart of Accounts, for financial data
  • Define PCA default coding to insure consistent coding of financial transactions based on projects, principal investigators, equipment or other parameters
  • Assign PCA codes for CTIs, ISDs, ProCard, CTA, requisitions, Journal Vouchers and other financial transaction records

There are two types of PCA: PCA UltraLite and PCA Lite. PCA UltraLite and PCA Lite are fundamentally the same; both allow you to code and track transactions, but they differ in required access, setup, implementation and the way codes are reported.

PCA UltraLite does not require FIN access, a formal Chart of Accounts to be created, entered and maintained in FIN, nor does it require the Organization code to be activated in FIN. PCA UltraLite codes can be added when initiating and submitting a wide variety of financial transactions, for example: ProCard reconciliation and purchases or reimbursements through ARIBA. PCA UltraLite also allows users to enter codes on posted transactions, on an as-needed basis, in MyFD through an Expense Transfer.  These codes will appear on the Transaction Summary report and can also be queried.  PCA UltraLite is the easiest and most flexible for coding and changes.

Advantages of using PCA UltraLite:

  • Ease of implementation: Just start using your codes! You do not need to activate or set anything up in FIN
  • Maximum flexibility: If your reporting needs change, you can easily start to use new codes
  • No additional access or data entry in FIN is required

PCA Lite requires users to create and maintain a formal Chart of Accounts in FIN. Additionally, before entering the chart of accounts in FIN, the user must get access to FIN (managed by the Administrative Systems team in UW IT) and the Organization code must be activated for PCA (MyFD will help you to put your Org code into the status to build your Chart of Accounts and then activate it). To understand the steps, review the Getting Started on PCA section.

Once the Organization code is active and the Chart of Accounts has been entered in FIN, users will see default codes appearing in the Task, Option and Project fields of the Transaction Summary. These default codes will appear for all transactions on budgets under the active PCA Organization code that do not have PCA codes applied. Transactions that do have PCA codes applied will display the codes on the Transaction Summary report in MyFD.

Advantages of creating a formal Chart of Accounts (PCA):

  • FIN validates PCA codes as it processes your financial transactions
  • FIN provides a system default set of codes that will be applied to all transactions in the relevant Org code
  • PCA codes are visible in MyFD Transaction Summary Report (in addition to the Transaction Detail Report and via the query tool)

When deciding which version of PCA is better for you, it is worth thinking about how you anticipate reporting on the codes. Consider the volume of transactions you anticipate coding; if you're using a standard set of a few codes, PCA UltraLite works  quite well. If you're coding all transactions and using numerous codes, PCA Lite may be a better fit. If you have temporary positions or high staff turnover, the additional access to maintain FIN for PCA Lite may present challenges. If you're extracting data to a shadow system, PCA UltraLite may not work.

Need More Information?

Check out our FAQs on PCA Codes.