Sage Intacct GL Outlier Assistant Finds the Exceptions to the Rules

Artificial intelligence is making headlines—with some good news and some not so good. We thought we’d venture safely into the fray with an article on a decidedly uncontroversial example of the technology. We’re talking about GL Outlier Detection in Sage Intacct—and its counterpart, the GL Outlier Assistant. What can this smart little tool do for your busy organization?

Mistakes Can be Costly—Very Costly

Accounting mistakes can be costly. For example, in 2014, Bank of America reported that “an honest accounting mistake” resulted in the company overstating its working capital by $4 billion. More recently, Citibank employees accidentally processed an interest payment for $900 million instead of the $8 million that was actually due. Then there was the employee at Italian airline Alitalia who forgot to input two extra zeros when pricing business class tickets from Toronto to Cyprus, allowing hundreds of buyers to snag fares for just $33. 

Join us for a webinar: Sage Intacct GL Outlier Assistant

These, of course, are extreme examples, but routine accounting errors are commonplace. Sage customer interviews show that 10-20% of journal entries typically need adjustment after posting to the general ledger. While they may not cost you billions, these adjustments require extra staff time to find, correct, and document. Here’s where the Sage Intacct GL Outlier Assistant steps in to help. 

GL Outlier Assistant Finds the Exceptions

Sage Intacct added the GL Outlier Detection feature back in 2020. This unique and powerful tool uses AI-powered machine learning to review journal entries and flag anomalies, helping you proactively catch errors and identify potential issues and risks before a transaction’s approval. Then, in 2022, Sage Intacct extended the functionality by introducing the Outlier Assistant. 

The Outlier Assistant steps in early and sends entries it flags as outliers back to the submitter instead of moving the transaction to the approver for review. This allows the submitter to verify that the entry is correct—or make the needed changes before it travels on to the approver. This quick, smart step reduces the workload for subsequent approvers and keeps the approval process moving efficiently. 

The Outlier Assistant also ensures that submitters know when an entry has been flagged as an outlier so they can review and take action. For example, icons allow you to quickly understand why journal entry lines were flagged as outliers, providing at-a-glance visual insight and saving you the time of investigating anomalies yourself. In addition, the icons tell you if an outlier is a coding anomaly (account/dimension), an unusual amount, or if multiple outlier conditions are present.

Configuration settings provide you with control over what gets flagged as an anomaly. For example, you can customize thresholds by journal for outlier evaluation based on materiality and dimensions. This helps limit the number of outliers that require your attention.

We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know

Perhaps you don’t yet see the value in having an ally like the Outlier Assistant. Your finance team is top-notch, and you simply aren’t finding the kind of routine errors or anomalies the Outlier Assistant is designed to intercept. 

Acknowledging the shadowy truth is helpful—we don’t know what we don’t know. Minor errors can go undetected, and enough small errors compound into big errors, and big errors can shake management’s and stakeholders’ confidence in your finances. Even highly conscientious, prudent finance teams will benefit from the belt-and-suspender approach provided by the Outlier Assistant. For example, in a recent Sage Intacct webinar, the Sage host relayed that one CFO of a successful company reported that in less than a month, the Sage Intacct Outlier Assistant helped his organization flag 12 anomalous entries. 

Sage Intacct Outlier Assistant is available to all existing Sage Intacct customers—just flip the switch and your assistant will report for duty. If you’d like to learn more about the Sage Intacct GL Outlier Detection and Assistant features, join us for a webinar: Sage Intacct GL Outlier Assistant or reach out to a member of our consulting team.