In this podcast episode, you’ll hear from Sandy McClure, Professional Services Manager at AcctTwo. Before joining AcctTwo in 2015, Sandy gained extensive experience implementing Sage Intacct at the multi-location megachurch she worked at in Charleston, South Carolina. And it was during this time that Sandy first met the AcctTwo team.
Headquartered in Houston, Texas, AcctTwo Shared Services focuses exclusively on the Sage Intacct platform. Through its cloud accounting software solutions, managed accounting services, and software development services, AcctTwo has been consistently recognized by Sage Intacct as its Partner of the Year for the past six years.
Originally a native Texan, when Sandy moved back to Texas, AcctTwo offered her a job to join their team where she’s since because one of the firm’s go-to experts on nonprofit implementations.
In this podcast episode, you'll learn how to:
- Navigate the built-in help system with ease
- Think outside the box with when reading the release notes
- Contextualize reporting for the intended audience
- Embrace the new features
- Tap into cloud accounting, integrating third-party apps, and automation
Sandy McClure’s advice on Sage Intacct is also featured in Sage Intacct Best Practices for Outsourced Accounting, Advisory Services, and VARs [Download the Free eBook].
Watch the Podcast Interview
Listen to the Podcast Interview
- “After working with the product for two years, I have no problem talking to people about it, selling it, implementing it, and knowing that it is a very good product, and they stand behind what they do.”
- “People try to repeat what they have in their current system or something they’ve seen in the past. I always try to encourage people and pray for an epiphany,” says Sandy McClure. She asks clients to look with fresh eyes and embrace the newer functionality of Sage Intacct. “People are very comfortable where they are. It is like having your favorite shoes and gluing the heels on one more time,” she said. “Let go, and don’t be scared to embrace the new stuff.”
- “Not everyone learns the same way, so you need different approaches. I’ve had to draw on a whiteboard until it felt like we were playing Pictionary, but that’s how some people learn.”
- “There are so many different ways to get to the information in Sage Intacct. Let's look for the easiest way to get there,” says Sandy McClure.
- “We call in Marketplace Partners that can plug into Sage Intacct,” says Sandy McClure. She advises that regardless of whether the client wants to develop a purchasing program or ensure there are automation triggers for potential fraud, third-party apps provide the robust flexibility that clients need.
A lightly-edited transcript follows below:
Sandy McClure (00:00):
I tell them to look at something with fresh eyes and embrace the newer functionality of Intacct because, after three or four years, there's been a lot of new things that have come in. So those who have been on Intacct as long as I have, there's a lot of new stuff. So let go, don't be scared, and embrace the new stuff.
Podcast Announcer (00:27):
Welcome to the AI in Accounting Podcast. Now here's your host, Joshua Feinberg of Vic.ai.
Joshua Feinberg (00:40):
I am Joshua Feinberg from the AI in Accounting Podcast. I'm being joined today by Sandy McClure from AcctTwo Shared Services. Welcome, Sandy. Thanks so much for joining me today. Absolutely. Thank you for inviting me. All right. You're very welcome. We're going to be talking today about Sage Intacct, but before we get into some of the best practices around what you'd recommend for Sage Intacct users, though, I always like to start these interviews by understanding what got you to where you are in your current career and how you got started in accounting. Find out how you ended up in your current role at your current firm, and how your team fits in with your firm. Can you take our listeners in for a few minutes of background to understand the context of the knowledge you're bringing to us today?
The Journey to Nonprofit Organizations and Sage Intacct
Sandy McClure (01:30):
Sure. So, I am a CPA. I have a master's and a bachelor's in accounting. I started in public accounting at Ernst and Whinney. I moved into the hospitality industry, and I worked as a consolidation manager for a large private club and country club company. I did consolidations of about 500 plus clubs for five years. Once my children were born, I took a step back and became a stay at home mom, which is a much harder job than any other job I've ever done. I was a stay at home mom, and I started back after my second one was about three, and I started working at my local church for about four hours a week. It grew over 10 years to 35 hours a week.
Sandy McClure (02:31):
And then, we relocated to Charleston, South Carolina in 2010. I was there for five years, and my children graduated high school there while I was there. I worked for my church, a megachurch, and we had 14 locations while I was there. We converted to Intacct, and AcctTwo was my implementer. So that's how I met the AcctTwo group. And I am a Texas girl. We relocated back to Texas as quickly as we could. I love South Carolina. I love going there to visit. It's absolutely gorgeous, but Mexican food is not great. So we moved back to Texas and, when we came back here, the nonprofit group of AcctTwo was based out of Dallas at the time. And that was great; they were like, don't look for a job, come work for us.
Sandy McClure (03:30):
So I did that. I have been implementing Sage Intacct, mostly in the nonprofit arena, for about four and a half years. We have done everything from chiropractic schools to at-risk schools, to the US Olympic committee, which is a great one, which was a very fun one. And then a lot of faith-based churches and camps, so we've done the gamut of the nonprofit area. I've also done several for-profit ones, which are kind of fun. One was a private college, but it also owned coffee fields in Puerto Rico and coffee shops. So you never know what you're getting into when you get on the other side with the customer. So it's been a really fun situation. I am now the professional services manager at AcctTwo. I have a team behind me also. I am the project manager on any of the nonprofits that come through the door for AcctTwo and some for-profits.
Joshua Feinberg (04:43):
Wow. You have a diverse background working across nonprofits being beyond the client-side for several years.
Sandy McClure (04:52):
I was on the nonprofit side working as well as for-profits. When I worked for the hospitality company, I got to play golf free for five years. So, I mean, I've had some really fun experiences with what I've been doing.
Joshua Feinberg (05:13):
How did you fall into Sage Intacct? Was that when you were implementing for the church? When was the first time Sage Intacct got on your radar screen?
Sandy McClure (05:24):
I heard about Sage Intacct in 2012, 2013. We implemented it where I was and went live. I think it was March of 2014. It was really easy; it was an easy software to learn. It was an easy software to use, and the credibility behind it was really strong. I have a very strong moral, and I'm not going to work for something that I don't believe in. And after working in the product for two years, I have no problem going in and talking to people about it, selling it, implementing it, and knowing that it is a very good product and they stand behind what they do.
Joshua Feinberg (06:16):
That's great. It gives some excellent context on how you got to where you are or the different chapters that led you to where you are on your current role at AcctTwo. And it sounds like an amazing resource to bring all that, to bear with the clients you work with.
Sandy McClure (06:32):
Our clients are really fun. I tell people that the goal of the implementation is to keep our implementers’ and our customer stress levels down because it is stressful when you're making a financial reporting change. I worked with a consultant on consolidation software when I was working in the hospitality industry. So I've been on both sides of it. I've seen it can feel. And it's really important. One of the things I stress to our implementers is that not everybody learns the same, so you've got to take it from different approaches. I've been in implementations where we would draw on the whiteboard three or four different things. It felt like we were playing Pictionary to a point, and other ones where if you talk them through it; they have more of a vision from that side of things. So everybody learns differently.
Sage Intacct Best Practices for Beginners
Joshua Feinberg (07:37):
I think that's a great natural segue to the first product-related question I have for you is, what do you tell somebody who's just getting started with Sage Intacct? What's your favorite tip for complete beginners?
Sandy McClure (07:52):
Beginners can use the help. There's a ton of help in the product. I tell people when I started in 2013, 2014, there wasn't near what there is today. But when I do an implementation, my people will hear probably four or five times in almost every call. Does the help go to like, if you're on an AP bill page, do help on this page, field by field description? And so as good as help is on this page, fill by fill description. I say that consistently because it is, the explanation is there if you're willing to take just a few clicks to get to it, the information is there in the product for you, which is helpful as opposed to trying to go read through a book or trying to find it on a 50,000 page PDF.
Joshua Feinberg (08:44):
So this is like contextually relevant, the helpful tips that change depending on where you are in the modules.
Sandy McClure (08:51):
Yes, absolutely. Great. And when you say by field, it's on the screen, you see the date, then you see vendor, and that's all in the product. And it's got a short description when you hit field by field, it lines it out for you, walks you through the page, which is impressive.
Joshua Feinberg (09:08):
That's great. I imagine saving you from a lot of questions, both with your internal team members and on the client-side.
Sandy McClure (09:16):
Well, and say Sage Intacct does four releases a year. Okay. We bring in four releases without additional cost to people. So every quarter we bring in a new release. So even our people from the implementer side, when they brought in something new, it's helpful to go to that, the help page and read it through. And that's how we learn it as well. I mean, we have to get up to speed on it to be able to teach it. So we go through that and test and have sandboxes and everything to get up to speed. So yeah.
Joshua Feinberg (09:52):
How much lead time do you typically get with that before it rolls out to clients?
Sandy McClure (09:57):
We see release notes early. Sage Intacct has what they call preview About two weeks before it's released, they release it to those of us who've requested preview, and we can go in and play with it. But the help isn't always up to date during preview, but it's getting there. We get to go in and play. It's helpful.
Best Practices for Advanced Sage Intacct Power Users
Joshua Feinberg (10:22):
That's great. So that's for beginners. What about somebody who said the complete opposite and has a learning curve, like you're at a conference, like the Sage Partner Summit or something, and you're speaking with someone. They're trying to one-up you, and they say, ‘Oh yeah, well, Sandy, let me tell you about the time that,’ and you're like, ‘No, no, no, no, wait, this is something that you may not have heard.’ What's something that power users would be helpful for them to know about the Sage Intacct?
Sandy McClure (10:52):
I think the release notes, because I don't think a lot of them look at it. I think that you know, going in and looking at the release notes, but also I tell people all the time to think outside the box. Okay. That's part of what I like about my job is no two days are the same because you never know what people are going to present to you. But try to think of ways not to make it harder than it has to be. Think about it. Cause a lot of times they'll say, well, this person needs this information. Okay. Well, they may say they want it, but are they really going to use it, first of all. And don't beat your head against the wall if someone's not going to use the information. But to think outside of the box, think of an easy way to get to the information. There are so many different ways in Intacct to get to the information, let's look for the easiest way to get there. You know, and believe me, I get hit up a lot at conferences with people going, ‘Hey, what about…?’ but that's part of the fun of it. It's almost like a puzzle. How do you fit it together?
Joshua Feinberg (12:01):
It seems like a lot of times they're asking for features. They have requested, but haven't thought through whether they're going to use the requests. So it's your job to kind of drill into whether it's worth pursuing in the first place.
Sandy McClure (12:15):
Yeah. Or it's their job to go back. So they may say, ‘Oh, management has always looked at this report.’ Okay. What are they using off the report? Do you know? Does it need to look this way? Or what are the pieces they're using? And how can we get to it a different way or an easier way? Or a more concise way? Or can we with management? And depending on who it is, especially the operational people, they may want to see it in a graph as opposed to seeing a report. And it's presented in a way that I think of the people you're dealing with; they know what they want to see. Okay. Not just how you see it. A lot of people, especially accountants, see things a certain way, and we're very linear. Still, the people we're presenting to, that crowd, it's different reporting for your auditors, for your banks, for your management people, for your operators, for your field of people who are going to be out there.
Sandy McClure (13:23):
I mean, we have a zoo that we did. Okay. So people who are out there doing the speaker chats and things like that with the animals and stuff, if they want to see financial information, how are they going to perceive it, and how they want to drill into it. So, there's a lot of thought before you just say, ‘Oh, this is the way you do it.’
Joshua Feinberg (13:50):
A lot of it comes down to, I guess, contextualizing it for their industry and probably just as important what their role is.
Sandy McClure (13:59):
Yeah. And the people's background. Because if you look at someone's background, you're going to know how to communicate with them better.
Biggest Sage Intacct Mistake
Joshua Feinberg (14:10):
Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. What do you see as the biggest mistake that people make in Intacct across the board? Right. Regardless of whether they're beginners, they're three, four, or five years in, or like in your case, it's seven, eight years. What's the biggest trap that everyone tends to fall into?
Sandy McClure (14:32):
It's trying to repeat what they had in their system or what they've seen in the past. I always try to encourage people, you know, I pray for an epiphany for one thing, because I try to come up with something creative. I tell them to look at something with fresh eyes and to embrace the newer functionality of Intacct. And after three or four years, there's been a lot of new things that have come in. For those that have been on Intacct that were implemented in 2013, 2014, and 2015, there's a lot of new stuff. So, let go and don't be scared and embrace the new stuff. And a lot of times people are very, very comfortable where they are. And so they don't want to do that. The old pair of sneakers is very comfortable; I'm going to glue that heel back on just one more time.
The Future of Sage Intacct and the Accounting Industry
Joshua Feinberg (15:46):
Where do you see Intacct going? Where do you see the accounting industry going? Where do you see a company like AcctTwo and Intacct three years out, five years out?
Sandy McClure (16:00):
At AcctTwo, we are positioned to continue with Intacct and we do a lot of managed accounting services. Everything's going to the cloud. So, the whole cloud and open API side of life is our reality. And I will tell you; we've had quite a few of our clients come back to us and say, during this time when the whole world shut down for a couple of months, the cloud helped. Cloud accounting was amazing and, they would have had their people be at risk if they just still been on-prem situation from servers and things like that. Um, but they prefer the AI side of life. So Sage Intacct has an annual conference, and every time we get to go to that, we get to see some of the newer things that they're looking into.
Sandy McClure (17:07):
They are rolling out some AI on like, even simple things like looking at journal entries to show you what looks different. From consistency, learning over time, they may have some audit triggers of, ‘Hey, this one looks different. You may want to look at it.’ There's a little guy inside of Intacct that kind of points out those things and looks at different stuff. So the AI side of life is truly coming on. I'm not sure when it's going to be live in the system, but we keep seeing little teasers when we go to the conferences. And back to what do, I advise people who are heavy users. And any automation you can get? Because Intacct has an open API.
Sandy McClure (18:02):
We are consistently getting more what we call marketplace partners that can plug into Intacct. So if they've got an expense reporting or a purchasing program that's on steroids. I mean that they want to plug in with the open API, be open, from a client, have the best, I mean, Intacct represents the best in class, so you can have the best things plugging into it with that open API. So we will continue to see more and more of that, as we move forward.
Joshua Feinberg (18:41):
That sounds like a lot more AI, a lot more automation, and a lot bigger of an ecosystem and a more third party partners, development tools to get more out of the core functionality of Intacct.
Sandy McClure (18:52):
We have tons of marketplace partners currently, but it goes through a vetting process with the clients and makes sure that that it's, I hesitate to say worthy, but you know, I mean, will fit. And we've seen some that haven't made it and some that are great.
Joshua Feinberg (19:21):
So if we think about, if we're fast-forwarding the calendar and we're having this conversation again, three years out, we're going to be talking a lot more about third-party apps the kind of explosion of the app community ecosystem around Intacct. Then there'll be a lot more automation driven, a lot more, figuring out anomalies and suggesting things. In much the same way that people have experienced in the last five or ten years on the consumer side, maybe when they get a call from the credit card company that says, ‘Hey, Sandy, somebody just bought a $3,000 TV in Seattle, was that you?’ or, ‘Somebody just bought a $5,000 American Express gift card in Eastern Europe?’
Sandy McClure (20:04):
Yeah, unfortunately, I have got some of those calls. I got one that was from Tiffany's, a purchase from Tiffany's on Christmas Eve on my American Express card that wasn't mine, but yeah. But there is a dashboard, I believe, that’s going to be in Intacct, with automation to those triggers to say, ‘Hey, look at this, because this looks out of the ordinary.’ This is not the type of transaction that this user generally puts in. Just things like that are really helpful from fraud, from an audit -- all those different protections. I think that's really where we're moving towards, which will help people.
Joshua Feinberg (20:47):
Definitely sounds so. Anything else about Sage Intacct that you think would be especially helpful for our viewers, for our listeners to know?
Sandy McClure (20:55):
It's a great tool to be able to slice and dice the data. I love the reporting side of it. I'm very passionate about compassion towards our clients and, but like I said, my moral compass is high. If I didn't feel like it was a good product, then I wouldn't support it. I wouldn't be working on it still. I've worked in gosh, five different five or six different accounting software. By far, it's the one that I would move to if I had the option of the ones that I've been in before, it's very, very powerful. And especially for the price point.
Joshua Feinberg (21:44):
Super, Sandy. What's the best way for somebody to get a hold of you if they want to follow the kinds of projects you're working on, or if they have any questions about anything you talked about today?
Sandy McClure (21:55):
They can email me at SMcClure at accttwo.com
Joshua Feinberg (22:07):
Any favorite social media places for people to connect with you or follow you?
Sandy McClure (22:14):
LinkedIn, because I do more on LinkedIn than I do anywhere else. I try to get on Twitter, but I'm not a big Twitter person. On LinkedIn, I get people who reach out to me on LinkedIn quite often.
Joshua Feinberg (22:29):
Awesome. Yeah. We'll make sure we include a link to that in the show notes when this goes up on our blog, but thanks so much for joining me today. This has been super helpful in getting an overview of your career. What got you to a place of making you one of the top experts on Sage Intacct and your experience with getting new users up and running and using the field by field approach to getting help. And, our power users should think more about asking what they're doing, why they're doing it, who actually needs it. And then just making sure that you're focused on where the future is headed with all this and understanding the app ecosystem, understanding automation, and the ability to surface more of the data with what's going on behind the scenes and stuff. You make better decisions, but yes.
Sandy McClure (23:14):
Well, the cool part too, about, about Sage Intacct that I didn't mention, is it can grow with a company, and that's the cool part about it because in the emerging markets that we're in and people merge together all the time, it can grow. You can add entities and add more to it. So that's amazing.
Joshua Feinberg (23:40):
Yeah. Like basically investment protection, right. Knowing that they're not going to hit a dead-end at a certain place and need to do it. Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. So that's great. So thanks again, Sandy. This has been really, really helpful. Super appreciate it.
Sandy McClure (23:54):
Sure. Thank you so much for inviting me.
Podcast Announcer (23:57):
Thanks for listening to this episode of the AI in Accounting Podcast. To subscribe and leave a review, check us out at blog.vic.ai or wherever you like to consume podcast episodes, including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and YouTube.
What's your favorite Sage Intacct tip? And what did you find most valuable from Sandy McClure's podcast interview? Let us know in the Comments section below.
And if you're serious about taking your Sage Intacct knowledge to the next level, download the free eBook: Sage Intacct Best Practices for Outsourced Accounting, Advisory Services, and VARs.