BlackLine Unveils Finance Controls and Automation Platform for Modern Finance

Industry’s first unified cloud platform for Finance Controls and Automation features new solution for Intercompany transaction accounting, reconciliation and settlement

LOS ANGELES – Nov. 17, 2014 – BlackLine today unveiled its new Finance Controls and Automation Platform, the industry’s first unified cloud-based offering designed to help mid-size companies and global enterprises alike lower compliance risks and gain greater efficiencies by automating and optimizing a wide range of core accounting and financial processes across the entire ‘Modern Finance’ organization. The company also announced first-of-its kind cloud software to automate and manage intercompany transaction accounting, reconciliation and settlement. The BlackLine Intercompany Hub serves as a clearinghouse for intercompany transactions, supporting a single process for reconciling, netting and settling intercompany transactions in real time.

Expanding beyond the functionality of its flagship Financial Close software, BlackLine’s new cloud platform provides enhanced control and visibility over previously manual, mission-critical accounting and finance processes, while addressing the growing regulatory compliance responsibilities under Sarbanes-Oxley, and the new COSO Framework. The new platform also lets the Office of Finance respond more effectively to CFO needs for greater visibility into enterprise performance to improve strategic and tactical decision-making.

“BlackLine’s new Finance Controls and Automation Platform is predicated on our unique concept of Modern Finance, a new approach to financial automation designed to help accountants and finance professionals work smarter and more efficiently,” said Therese Tucker, BlackLine CEO. “Many of the world’s best-run organizations are experiencing first-hand the efficiencies and risk reduction benefits of automating key accounting and finance processes. In these companies, the Modern Finance movement is fast becoming a competitive differentiator, leveraging the horsepower of advanced cloud, automated analytics, risk mitigation and deep reporting technologies to liberate accountants from the rote, repetitive labors inherent in their work, while enabling the CFO to execute on the enterprise performance agenda.”

Platform Overview

The BlackLine Finance Controls and Automation Platform consists of tightly integrated packaged solutions, products and several key enabling technologies unified within a single system. Since BlackLine is highly configurable, customers can acquire the entire set of solutions and products at once or add them over time as needed.

At the core of the BlackLine technology platform is a highly secure, cloud-based infrastructure serving as the foundation for centralized business rules, workflow, analytics, security, reporting and dashboards, document management and data integration. The BlackLine platform integrates with and supports all ERP systems.

Companies throughout the world are using the BlackLine platform today to automate their financial close, account reconciliations, journal entries, and numerous other accounting and finance processes. The platform’s suite of six integrated products provides accounting and finance departments with end-to-end functionality that automates and streamlines manual, spreadsheet-driven accounting and finance processes and adds unprecedented control, visibility and efficiency. These products include BlackLine Account Reconciliations, BlackLine Transaction Matching, BlackLine Task Management, BlackLine Journal Entry, BlackLine Variance Analysis and BlackLine Consolidation Integrity Manager.

The Platform’s core technology and suite of unified products are complemented by four solutions:

  • BlackLine Financial Close Management – Most companies are challenged to meet tight deadlines to close the books with minimal resources. Due to the current regulatory environment, these deadlines are coupled with the need for stringent controls and a high degree of accuracy. The BlackLine Financial Close Management solution specifically addresses these challenges and needs. It provides controls around the accuracy of the numbers; segregation of duties; timeliness in performing close activities; appropriate levels of review; and an online document repository to store and protect supporting documentation—all in one unified solution. This is extremely beneficial for management, and it also provides auditors with an efficient means for assessing the controls around financial close processes.

  • BlackLine Reconciliation Management – Accountants and controllers are under pressure to ensure balance sheet reconciliations are thorough, accurate and reliable for all accounts and prepared/reviewed in a timely manner in compliance with standard accounting principles. Currently a paper- and spreadsheet-intensive manual process at most companies, the BlackLine Reconciliation Management solution automates this process to make preparing and reviewing balance sheet reconciliations easy. This new BlackLine solution also provides transaction matching capabilities to streamline and automate detail-heavy reconciliations, such as bank reconciliations, credit card matching, intercompany reconciliations and invoice-to-PO matching. The solution can match up to one million transactions per minute.

  • BlackLine Controls Assurance – Publicly traded companies are required to institute internal controls and procedures around financial reporting and information technology to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and other regulations. The challenge they face is the cost and time associated with documenting and testing their regulatory and financial controls. The Controls Assurance solution from BlackLine enables companies to manage their regulatory compliance initiatives. For example, it offers COSO 2013 check lists, Auditor tasks, best practices guidelines, a dashboard showing control tests that failed/passed and a task list for remediating the issues in order to help companies ensure compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley.

  • BlackLine Intercompany Hub – When transactions occur between two related legal entities, the resulting balances from these transactions must be eliminated, or appropriately adjusted, during the preparation of the organization’s consolidated financial statements. These transactions are often cross-border and managed by different accounting systems that eventually interface with the consolidated general ledger. Country-specific statutory requirements, multi-currency exchange rates, timing of entries and high volume of re-bills and corrections can cause imbalances that require research to resolve, consuming valuable time and resources. BlackLine addresses these issues by providing large multi-nationals a software clearinghouse solution for their intercompany transactions.

BlackLine was created to automate highly repetitive, manual accounting and finance tasks—tying up all the loose ends to liberate accountants to apply their talents to more strategic pursuits. The company’s introduction of its pioneering account reconciliation software in 2005 signified the development of an entirely new category of business technology, one erasing the drudgery, inefficiency and risk inherent in the previously manual, spreadsheet-based process, while offering unparalleled visibility into the underlying financial data.

Since then, BlackLine has added many new automated functions to its cloud-based technology platform, many created in tandem with the company’s enterprise-level and mid-market customers. Today, this robust platform comprises a variety of packaged solutions and key enabling technologies efficiently addressing multiple Finance and Accounting needs. The enormous amount of time accountants previously invested in manual exercises can now be reinvested in value-added activities, ensuring data transparency, enhanced controls and the integrity of data for reporting and compliance purposes. In a recent report on its newly renamed ‘Enhanced Finance Controls and Automation’ category, leading technology research firm Gartner states, “The close/reconciliation management asset class has expanded over the last year to include a wider range of functionality that extends beyond the month-end close into a broader solution that can enhance the management and control of any finance process throughout the accounting cycle.” In the report, Gartner lists BlackLine as a ‘Best-of-Breed’ provider for Enhanced Finance Controls and Automation Software.

“With its newly renamed category, Gartner is validating what we’ve been seeing all along – that there is a huge need and market opportunity for solutions to automate the whole gamut of accounting and finance processes,” Therese Tucker, BlackLine CEO, added. “The BlackLine Finance Controls and Automation Platform fits squarely within Gartner’s new category with an array of solutions designed to automate processes and provide increased control and visibility across the entire Modern Finance organization.”

For more information on the BlackLine Platform and the future of Modern Finance, please click here to read Therese Tucker’s latest blog post.