Our webinar with PepsiCo provided data-driven insights into the transformation that took place after they automated their entire account reconciliation process. We’ve highlighted the six keys to successfully begin the modern finance journey from PepsiCo ANZ Finance Control Director Vineet Jain and PepsiCo AMENA Director of Business Information Solutions Kristen Pennington.
Reduce Risk From Human Error
It’s no secret that manual processes create high risk from human error, and more than half of the webinar attendees agreed that this is their greatest challenge around the financial close process. Manually managing thousands of reconciliations can result in data-entry errors that lead to incorrect balance sheet data.
PepsiCo began their finance automation journey by exploring how to automate and improve their entire reconciliations process. PepsiCo has a commitment to their stakeholders, and their responsibility to produce accurate financial data was one of the drivers for them to significantly improve this process.
Automate Account Reconciliations
By automating the reconciliations process, PepsiCo removed the risk of paper-based, manual spreadsheets and accelerated the financial close by providing their accountants with a streamlined method to verify the correctness of their balance sheets. It dramatically enhanced internal controls while enforcing standardization to improve the quality and accuracy of their financial data.
“It’s essential to have an error proof, timely, accurate and supported financial reconciliation process,” says Jain. “As a controller, I need to ensure accuracy.”
Utilize the Increased Visibility
PepsiCo selected BlackLine’s software to automate their account reconciliations process, and immediately experienced increased visibility. Dashboards display the date on which the actual reconciliation starts and how many people are working on the accounts. This powerful tool is exposing the bottlenecks, other deliverables that are competing against their reconciliation timeline, and whether more people need to be focused on the reconciliations.
Automation also provides visibility into the accounts that are rejected and the reasons for the rejection. By linking and grouping accounts, they have full visibility and can reconcile those accounts end-to-end instead of general ledger by general ledger.
Expand the Efficiency to Balance Sheet Review
With their account reconciliations process automated, Jain no longer needs to travel to PepsiCo’s various locations to complete the head office balance review. It can be done online through their automation software, which seamlessly links the entire account reconciliations process with the balance sheets review process. They can include notes and rank the quality of the reconciliation, which serves as a performance source for the individuals who will prepare the reconciliation.
This leads to error-free account reconciliations and a more efficient financial close that is complete, accurate, timely, and supported while fostering an environment for continuous improvement.
Measure the Results
PepsiCo set specific goals before implementing automation and they are proud of their results thus far. Here are their three most impressive achievements:
- Balance Sheet review used to take 30 hours every month over 3-4 days, and now it takes roughly one day. All of the notes and supporting documentation are there, and there is a clear dashboard for review.
- Compliance in terms of timeliness has increased from 57% to almost 100%. They have a clear set of timelines for preparation review and the visibility they need to ensure they are able to close any actions coming out of that review in a timely matter.
- They have auto-certified 26% of the accounts that require manual certification or review. Their goal is to reach 50%, and they are well on their way.
Enjoy the Benefits
So much time and effort are poured into the implementation of finance automation, and it is important to take a moment to appreciate the results. Jain revealed the top benefits PepsiCo’s finance and accounting department has experienced from automating their control activities:
- We now have flawless execution
- We can ensure process compliance
- We have enhanced process visibility
- Our auditability has improved
- We have stronger communication
- We are able to plan ahead
What’s Next for PepsiCo?
PepsiCo’s next goal is tied to their global operating model. They are working toward establishing the fundamentals for what reconciliation practices should be, along with a standard process that aligns with their global operating model. With a presence in 200+ companies, it is critical to maintain a harmonized and standardized process across the globe.
For a deeper dive into the keys to PepsiCo’s success with finance automation, including learnings from their implementation, listen to the full webinar recording.