Sage Intacct plans to radically change audit

Audit is about to undergo a radical change, and Sage Intacct plans to spearhead it.

“Radical change” means just that: Audit will not be what it always has been," said Aaron Harris, senior vice president and head of engineering and technology, in a keynote at Sage Intacct's annual user conference, being held this week in Nashville. Audit now is “after the fact, time-consuming and expensive — all just to gain some confidence that the controls are working and the numbers are correct.”

The company shared its ambition just a few days after the American Institute of CPAs announced an initiative to build a completely new audit product that would change the way the profession performs that function. (See "AICPA teams up with firms to transform audit.")

“We think we can radically change audit to something that can provide strategic value,” Harris went on. “We want audit to be real time and continuous with business activity.”

While wanting to “radically change” anything, and in this case audit, is exciting in concept, in practice, a lot of people have to be on board. In this case, accountants have to want the change and be able to adapt to it, software companies have to be prepared to meet the challenge of creating trustworthy systems to manage a well-established workflow, and businesses must see the value in continuous, proactive audit.

Once audit moves to the background, Harris said, accountants will have a lot more time to spend on more valuable tasks. But what are those tasks? “We really need to think strategically about how to empower [staff accountants],” Harris said, and encouraged the Intacct accountants in the room to think about what that might mean.

For CEO Rob Reid, it means "elevating the position of finance" in an accountant's work, which, he told Accounting Today, is what accounting grads want when they start out anyway — not performing audit drudgework.

Sage Intacct Advantage 2017 Rob Reid

New releases

Sage Intacct also announced several new products and product updates that will feature in the company’s upcoming mid-November release.

The Sage Intacct Interactive Custom Report Writer, which has been in beta testing for the past year, got a cheer from the audience in Nashville. The solution is a visual reporting tool built to increase the flexibility and agility required to improve business insights and day-to-day operations.

The new module allows users to build custom reports with hierarchical field selection, drag-and-drop functionality, and automatic formatting and simple subtotaling. With software interactivity, users can pivot, filter, sort and expand data to answer specific business questions. Interactive Custom Report Writer also addresses more complex needs, implementing rolling sums and aggregations, as well as functions for reorganizing and summarizing data with pivot tables. It also offers conditional formatting and color selection to draw attention to the most important data and trends to improve report usability.

Training for the new product proved very popular at Advantage 2018, with 800 accountants signing up to take the courses on site in Nashville.

“After years of working with you guys, I've learned you’re never going to give up Excel,” Harris quipped from the mainstage. “So we added one-click ability to export information into your spreadsheets.”

Also new is Sage Intacct Budgeting and Planning, which was out in early release in September. The cloud-based financial budgeting and planning solution is designed for small and midsized businesses that have outgrown spreadsheets and email for collaborative planning but don’t have the time and money to implement and manage an enterprise-scale solution. One of the goals of this solution is to allow organizations to collaborate on the latest version of the plan or budget in a single secure application.

Finally, Sage Intacct is taking on the allocations pain point with General Ledger Allocations. The product automates the close process and helps users set up sophisticated allocations once, and then dynamically generates future allocations when prompted.

Harris noted that Sage Intacct has released more than 150 product enhancements in the past year alone, including a number of new products and some of the biggest quarterly releases in our history.

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