November 30, 2022
This post was written by Clearsulting, a BlackLine Alliance Partner. A leader in spearheading complex BlackLine implementations with more than 300 successful go-lives across modules at over 100 global organizations, we’ll help modernize your approach to accounting and arm you with the insights needed to make informed decisions.
Often, the first step in configuring technology is focused on efficiency—but what comes after? Are you striving for perfection at the cost of speed? Is user behavior guided (or directed) by leadership’s risk tolerance? Do you have policies in place that are enforced by the technology you are using?
A risk-tuned policy can unlock scalable growth, striking the right balance of behavior and control. Once this baseline is set, the next evolution is ensuring your organization meets—but does not exceed—the mark. This is easier said than done, and often requires a shift in mindset.
To truly tune behavior to focus on the areas of risk deemed meaningful, we must abandon the quest for perfection that keeps us in the weeds. As leaders, we should avoid rewarding overachievement if we want to see the full benefit of our policy at work. It may be more right, but how long did it take to achieve?
Yep, you read that headline right.
In the realm of governance and controls, going above and beyond requirements can be detrimental and not something to celebrate. (Do any of these comments sound familiar? “Yay, we reconciled to the penny.” “We got that allocation exactly right.” “I found that missing $50 difference.”) As an accountant it’s hard to accept something is “good enough,” but understand that a lot of effort went into getting buy-in from leadership, audit, and other stakeholders to craft a fit-for-risk policy. Overperforming undermines its intent and can mean sacrificing precious time that could instead be spent on strategic, value-added activities.
When you enable technology like BlackLine, there’s focus and support from across the organization that make quick wins possible. After go-live, though, it’s easy to slip back into the comfortable, legacy way of doing things (think shadow spreadsheets, sampling automation results, redundant checks, not trusting the tool, etc.). That’s where a holistic view of governance and controls, along with some thoughtful change management, makes a difference. Being clear on what we want to accomplish, and how we can achieve and maintain that, helps ensure we don’t lose hard-fought ground.
By updating policies, controls, and governance ahead of change, you can determine how teams will be measured, have a way to check progress, and prevent the return of bad habits or behaviors that we now consider waste. It also allows you to right-size the effort keeping that risk tolerance in mind. Remember: overdelivering is just as harmful as underdelivering and has a tendency to gradually add time back to a process where simplicity could prevail.
Set up the right way, BlackLine can take risk out of finance operations and activate your policy into sustainable change—making the platform an enforcer rather than a bystander. So, you set the expectations and BlackLine measures the compliance.
You want to build up from where you started (not fall back into old habits) and realize the vision you originally set out to accomplish with the new technology implementation. Here are a few ideas on how to do that:
Set real and realistic policies so your teams actually follow them
Sustain and embed value from the time-saving activities BlackLine enables
Maintain the ground you have gained by encouraging and empowering your teams
Leverage your front-line users for their ideas on how else to improve
Beyond that, keep in mind that technology should always be viewed as a catalyst—never a silver bullet to solve your problems. In this case, it’ll help you let go of your quest for perfection and free up your teams to focus on what the business defines as the best use of available time.
Need guidance on how to make this a reality? Drop us a note and we’ll be in touch.
Clearsulting’s innovative problem solving and proven technology workflows help finance leaders embrace digital to become better business partners. Using BlackLine as a catalyst, we challenge existing workflows to drive innovation and integration across your technology landscape. Our holistic, flexible approach paired with BlackLine enables organizations to improve, automate, and optimize processes in a sustainable way.