The Intelligent GL and the Evolution of Nonprofit Accounting
Nonprofit organizations use accounting to record transactions, organize data, and better understand their financial position. Having a clear picture of financials helps you plan strategically for the future. All too often however, CFOs and other financial professionals don’t have enough time for the strategic part of their role. According to an annual CFO survey, 75% of CFOs spend their time as accountant and protector and only 25% on strategic activities.1
Nonprofit organizations have an additional responsibility in their accounting practices — good stewardship and accountability to donors and contributors. Working with small budgets and lean staffing, more nonprofits are turning to Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools to improve financial management. These forward-thinking nonprofits are using modern cloud nonprofit accounting software that harnesses AI and machine learning capabilities to convert periodic, manual transactional processes to continual, automated processes built on a foundation of continuous trust and agile, data-driven decision making.
“Today’s finance leaders want more time to focus on strategic work. They want to empower their teams with better technology to automate repetitive, routine tasks so they can shift their team’s view from looking at the past to looking at the future. Accounting and finance solutions should embed powerful analytic capabilities, enabling interactive exploration in the system of record. However, that’s not enough. We want solutions to push “active insights” to finance leaders. “Active” means the solutions push the insights when they’re discovered so leaders can make decision. And the insights shouldn’t necessarily be answers to questions that are well-defined. Ultimately, we can use modern technology to continuously scan business activity looking for emerging opportunities and risks finance leaders may not have thought to explore.”
Aaron Harris, CTO, Sage
As we have shared in previous blog posts, today’s finance leaders want more time to focus on strategic work and AI is getting us closer to that reality. Sage Intacct is using AI and machine learning technology to automate repetitive, routine tasks so finance teams can shift their focus from looking at the past to looking at the future.
Transforming the financial close from periodic to continuous
One of the objectives of Sage Intacct has been to eliminate the financial close. The Intelligent GL™ — available only from Sage Intacct — captures transactions in real time so you always have complete, up-to-date information about your organization’s performance. The Sage Intacct Intelligent GL also reconciles what’s captured and makes any necessary adjustments, so your books are always ready for reporting.
To make continuous accounting a reality, financial teams need to convert all manual, periodic processes into automated continued processes. The Sage Intacct Intelligent GL does this by integrating information across the front and back office and bringing all transactions into the system — even across departmental and company boundaries. Nonprofits can use open integration to connect other applications, download bank and credit card transactions, and use AI to accelerate project-based time entry with Sage Intelligent Time.
“As we think about the future, I think we’ll see some really provocative statements on how innovation can transform the accounting industry, that will get CFOs and finance leaders and their teams out of these periodic, redundant, frankly low value processes, and focused on the future. I envision a world where the books are always ready for reporting, where you always have real-time, complete, up-to-date information about the performance of your business. If you can achieve that nirvana of continuous accounting — as I like to describe it — you can see what's going on in your business.”
Aaron Harris, CTO, Sage
Additionally, the Sage Intacct Salesforce Advanced CRM Integration provides real-time visibility to development and finance and improves collaboration between these departments. Nonprofit program and development staff can get direct insight into transactions and budget from Salesforce so they can continually improve performance.
Get real-time visibility to development and finance with direct insight from the Sage Intacct Salesforce Advanced CRM integration for nonprofits. Capture data in real-time, ensure data stays in sync, and reduce the reconciliation burden between the CRM and accounting systems.
Built on the foundation of continuous trust
Continuous accounting is made even more valuable when finance leaders have the confidence that data is accurate and compliant. Interviews with our nonprofit customers have shown that 10 to 20 percent of journal entries typically need adjustment after being posted to the general ledger.2 Each time an adjustment is needed, it requires additional staff time to find, correct, and document each instance. To save time and increase confidence, the Sage Intacct Intelligent GL uses AI to automatically analyze journal entries and flag outliers that need more attention. In addition to flagging the entry, the system also provides a reason why the item was flagged.
Outlier Detection in the Sage Intacct Intelligent GL uses AI to automatically analyze journal entries and flag outliers that may need a closer look to deliver continuous trust in financial data. In addition to flagging, the system also gives a reason why the items were flagged.
Moving from tactical to strategic with active insights
Once organizations achieve continuous accounting and have access to real-time, accurate information they can trust, Sage Intacct Intelligent GL provides the tools to analyze that data for agile data-driven decision making. Nonprofits get continuous active insights into performance using dashboards that provide visual cues to what’s going on. Insights can even be pushed out directly to you with scheduled reports. Further, you can explore financial data across your organization to see real-time performance, get more context around specific financials, compare data over time, and spot trends as they occur. The Sage Intacct Interactive Visual Explorer provides expanded reporting and analytics capabilities allowing organizations to identify emerging opportunities and risks they might not have otherwise seen.
With the Sage Intacct Interactive Visual Explorer, you can view your financial data using a multi-angle, multi-dimensional graphical tool. With data visualization, you clearly understand insights at-a-glance and can then turn those insights into action with visual storytelling and narration to make strategic, data-driven decisions.
Using the Sage Intacct Intelligent GL, your team can shift the financial close process from one that is manual and periodic to one that happens automatically and continuously. This provides ongoing visibility built on a foundation of continuous trust into your organization’s performance. The Sage Intelligent GL uses automation and the power of AI to not only free your team from manual effort, but also create new possibilities to play a more strategic role in your organization.
Discover how your finance team can play a more strategic role in leading your organization to optimize performance and drive future planning decisions. Download our eBook, 4 Steps to Greater Nonprofit Stewardship with Digital Finance Transformation.
1Armanino LLP, CFO Evolution 2.0, The Path to the Transformational CFO (October 2017).
2“Sage equips customers to create intelligent organizations by embracing digital transformation at Sage Intacct Advantage 2020,” Globe Newswire (October 20, 2020)
Nancy Master is a senior nonprofit industry marketing manager at Sage Intacct and is passionate about helping nonprofits achieve mission success. Nancy has more than 15 years of experience in software marketing and close to 20 years of experience working with a human services nonprofit organization.
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