BlackLine Blog

October 14, 2020

When Being in the Middle Isn't "Just Right"

Modern Accounting
2 Minute Read

Sonia Chu

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Crossing the $100M revenue marker is an exciting time for any company, but this milestone can also increase operational stress. Teams are often no longer small enough to easily collaborate on day-to-day tasks, while increasing complexity and transaction volume come without the benefits of scale and established processes that larger organizations enjoy.

The recently completed Capstone Insights report, A Global Confidence Check for Finance & Accounting, discovered that midsize companies (approx. $100M to $749M in revenue) expressed the most significant dissatisfaction with their F&A processes when compared to both smaller and larger companies.

In this area, being in the middle isn’t “just right” at all:

  • 14.5% of respondents in the $100-$250M category felt they could not completely trust the accuracy of their data

  • Only 30% of respondents in the $500-$750M category strongly agreed with the statement, “I completely trust the accuracy of my company’s financial data.”

  • Only 27% in this revenue band strongly agreed that “our executive team is highly satisfied with the real-time access they have to the financial performance of the organization and its individual divisions/departments.”

Stories From the Field

This level of uncertainty surprised us, so we turned to our clients for more context. We discovered that dissatisfaction is driven, at least in part, by a reliance on legacy manual processes.

For instance, Atlantic Union Bank (formerly Union Bank & Trust) faced the challenge of centralizing all its reconcilements. Before deploying BlackLine, the bank’s reconcilements were tracked using Excel spreadsheets that were then printed, put in binders, and transported to the relevant departments to be checked for errors and approved. The binders were then stored offsite, taking up significant storage space and making the data difficult to access.

Repetitive tasks and manual workarounds can also create unexpected drag as accounts under management increase. What didn’t feel unmanageable in the past can become a showstopper as transactional volume goes up.

TTX, a transportation and logistics company, decided to address this by implementing BlackLine’s Account Reconciliations and Task Management solutions. TTX can now automate the most complex and repetitive tasks in finance and accounting. While a tremendous time saver—users, on average, shorten reconciliation time by 50-80%—the solution also dramatically improves accuracy and visibility across the entire close process, including managing tasks down to the individual level.

A Map for the Middle

If your team is experiencing similar pain, here are some steps you can take to regain your footing and continue to grow your organization and scale F&A operations:

  • Survey the “doers” to find potential trouble spots before they are stressed by growth. Your individual contributors are closer to the day-to-day headaches involved with managing your data. Ask them where the workarounds are, what processes are overly complicated, and what they wish they could change. Likewise, ask them about what’s working so good processes are maintained. You might be surprised by their answers.

  • Automate what you can, where you can. Manual accounting processes are not sustainable. They add unnecessary time, risk, and cost, and they negatively impact morale and productivity.

  • Simplify your audits—before you think you need to. An audit can be an ordeal plagued with version control issues, time-consuming manual preparation, and endless meetings, but it doesn’t have to be that way. When everything is accessible in a single cloud solution, both staff and auditors have a unified place to request and provide PBC items, as well as monitor progress.

More Resources for Midsized Companies

The Modern Accounting Playbook sets midsize F&A teams up for immediate success on close automation essentials and provides a foundation for growth. As your organization grows, your technology solutions should scale with you to automate and address more of your daily work, allowing teams to gain control of the close and spend a greater share of their time on value-adding activities.

Join us on Thursday, October 22 at 11:00 am PT/2:00 pm ET for a webinar hosted by Proformative to discover:

  • The costs of traditional manual accounting processes

  • How spreadsheet-based processes increase the risk of inaccurate financial data

  • Why scaling and preparing for the future requires thinking differently about F&A activities

  • A modern accounting approach that helps organizations perform accounting work quickly, accurately, and with more control

Register here.

About the Author


Sonia Chu