August 12, 2021

Avoiding the Pitfalls of ‘One and Done’ Implementation

5-minute read

As an avid DIYer, I’ve learned firsthand that what might seem like a good deal doesn’t always work out for the best.

Take a leaky pipe, for example. We can all go on YouTube and get tips for how to replace a washer or gasket, or even seal a plumbing joint. A few months later, though, there’s a bit of water in the cabinet. You go back, fix it again, and move on.

Then, after you’ve forgotten about it, you get a call from your partner saying there’s water all over the kitchen floor, the cabinet is rotten, and the floor is buckling.  So much for saving a few dollars! 

You see, there’s a difference between a DIYer’s “good enough” and an expert’s craftsmanship.

When you undertake a finance transformation effort, you certainly want to keep an eye on your investment—runaway projects can be expensive. The real measure of success, however, isn’t how much you save on the project implementation but the outcomes you achieve as a result. Most transformation efforts are designed to reduce costs and cycle times and improve quality. An effective BlackLine implementation should produce all three—and more.

Focus on the Right KPIs

The keyword in the last sentence is “effective.” I’ve seen several clients in the past few months who approached their BlackLine project like a DIYer, focusing solely on minimizing up-front expense and disruption, rather than trying to maximize the benefits the platform offers.

Instead of driving KPIs such as auto-certification (an instant productivity gain!), percentage of automated journal entries or transactions, or cycle-time reductions in the close, they measure money spent configuring the software.

These clients who took the DIY approach—either implementing on their own or with an implementation partner that simply wants to configure the platform and be done with it—might have been satisfied in the short run. (“Well, that’s done! And we saved money!”)

But they’re not the ones who can tout real change—and real success. On the contrary, they receive the bare minimum of benefits, the proverbial tip of the iceberg, with myriad others left untapped.

A lot of these firms, including leading brands we all recognize, looked at their implementation as a “one-and-done” project. And they’re using BlackLine like a fancy repository for storing Excel spreadsheets and reconciliation policies. Is that useful? Maybe. But it’s akin to fixing that leak with duct tape.  

Case in Point: Automation Cuts the Close by Two Full Days

For example, one retail customer implemented BlackLine’s Transaction Matching for a limited set of eCommerce data, but nearly all GL recs were still done manually in Excel. They realized their ERP was unable to perform the recs they needed.

So, they collaborated with RGP to outline and implement a plan to automate their reconciliations, achieving more than 50% auto-reconciliation in the first wave through proper template usage and training. Eliminating this manual work cut their close by two full days.

Similarly, a medical device customer was using BlackLine for Account Reconciliations and Task Management, but they still had 400 manual journal entries to make every month. After analyzing their work, we used BlackLine (and two Journal Entry templates) to automate all 400 journal entries—with zero errors in the very first monthly close.

During the Journal Entry implementation effort, RGP also optimized and further automated their account reconciliations.

Finance Transformation Is a Journey, Not a Project

You might think I’m saying that every client needs to implement every element of the BlackLine platform all at once—a “Big Bang” implementation. That’s not my intent at all. A phased implementation with a prioritized roadmap is a great idea. You don’t have to stop at every point along the way—just implement the features that drive the most benefit in your organization. 

Don’t think of finance transformation as a project. It’s a journey. And even when you think the journey is over, guess what: it’s not. There’s always room for improvement.

At RGP, we try to instill that mindset into every transformation project: set your goals, accomplish them, set new ones, rinse and repeat. Set an auto-certification target for your low-risk accounts, then follow a plan to meet/beat it.

Move on to Transaction Matching, tackling more complex recons such as bank and credit card transactions. Are intercompany transactions eating up too much time? Use Transaction Matching to tackle those next. Need to improve working capital by speeding up cash application? Tackle that next. Just keep moving.

At the end of the day, it’s all about time

  • Unlocking the valuable time of your workforce and redirecting their efforts toward higher-value work
  • Reducing cycle times in transactional work so you can spend more time analyzing, planning, and strategizing
  • Shortening the time (and cost) of internal and external audits by providing a single platform for policies, evidence, and approvals

… not the time you saved by doing a “one and done” implementation.

View this on-demand webinar to learn how RGP and BlackLine can help you maintain momentum on your finance optimization journey.

Andy Jones

Modern Accounting