BlackLine Blog

June 01, 2020

Closing the ERP Gap with the Modern Accounting Playbook

Modern Accounting
2 Minute Read

Andy Bottrill

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Automation across all industries is a common theme today, but there is still some concern about the impact of emergent technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

The truth is that automation, correctly applied, can bring genuine benefits when tackling real-world business needs, especially when those needs relate to tedious, time-consuming manual processes.

Over the past few decades, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) suites have become an essential part of the operating model of organisations around the world. Initially only on offer to the largest of enterprises, the rise of the Software-as-a-Service provider has opened up the benefits of ERP systems to mid-sized organisations as well.

The Time-Consuming Task of Manually Closing the Books

But while ERPs provide the necessary functionality to track and manage all the activities that go into running an organisation of any size—from sales to accounts receivable and accounts payable, and so on—they have one crucial shortcoming that still requires manual intervention on a regular basis: your ERP can’t close the books for you.

The reality to date has been that your finance and accounting teams have to roll up their sleeves and get involved, typically once a month, once a quarter, and of course at year-end. And it’s not a simple exercise.

The norm for most organisations involves wrangling information out of a multitude of sources—Excel, emails, DropBox, and so on—and pulling it together to provide a coherent whole. Making matters even more complex, there’s often little visibility into the work being done by your accounting team, specifically who is doing what, and when.

The end result will all too often be even more emails flying back and forth, with the manager ultimately responsible for signing off on all this while trying his or her best to keep track of what’s going on.

That’s a lot of effort going into a task that’s essential, but when done manually, takes teams away from other projects that could help the company scale and grow. What’s needed is a way to automate this work—and this is where BlackLine comes in.

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Andy Bottrill