The one constant in today’s business world is relentless change. Survival is determined by an organization’s ability to adapt and evolve, and success is granted to those who define the competitive advantage.
The opportunities can seem endless, and how or what to change is much harder than the mere determination to do it. Good companies evolve their offerings based on what their customers want and need now. Great companies, on the other hand, know what their customers will need tomorrow, and are already in the process of making it happen.
BlackLine’s solution was built entirely in the cloud from day one, and this allows us to keep pace with our customer’s present and future needs. Our strategic imperative is a big one: to continually transform the way finance and accounting teams work through revolutionary advances in technological capabilities and efficiency. This is our definition of continuous improvement.
We have incessantly improved our products and services over the past decade, beginning with the launch of our initial Finance & Accounting (F&A) software tool. We wanted to provide software that instantly delivered unprecedented levels of automation and visibility, replacing the drudgery accountants had historically endured in this time-consuming manual process. Not only did our solution offer a more humane, efficient and compliant reconciliation process, it liberated F&A teams in diverse industries to apply their intellect to more strategic, value-added activities.
Our customers asked for more automated solutions, and we listened. We enlarged our platform to support other F&A activities, such as transaction matching, journal entry management, and intercompany transactions.
Our continuous improvements didn’t go unnoticed in the technology research space. In 2014, Gartner published its IT Market Clock for Financial Management Applications, which provides actionable insights to companies planning their IT spending priorities. The report cited a new category of technology, Enhanced Finance Controls and Automation, recognizing the advent of technology solutions that automated the “last mile” of finance—the madcap sprint to finalize period-end accounts. Gartner urged readers to carefully examine these software products and their providers, of which BlackLine was cited as a Leader.
The recommendation recognized the software tools’ positive impact on productivity, data accessibility, process efficiency, audit costs, and control-related risks. What stood out in the report was Gartner’s prescient statement that this new class of technology had recently expanded to include even “wider functionality,” which the firm said was developed to “enhance the management and control of any finance process throughout the accounting cycle.” With this, Gartner had noted the continuous improvement that was then underway.
Just last month, the firm affirmed our ongoing progress again, calling BlackLine a “trailblazer” in the Enhanced Finance Controls and Automation space. Even better, we were named as one of only four “Leaders” in Gartner’s new Financial Corporate Performance Management Magic Quadrant category.
The new category focuses exclusively on financial close software companies— providers of intercompany management, account reconciliations, journal entries, variance analyses and financial control testing products. Previously, Gartner had categorized F&A software providers in a single CPM Quadrant, and this change divided the category into two segments—FCPM and SCPM (Strategic Corporate Performance Management). The reason was clear: today’s financial close and planning activities have become separate pursuits that need to be treated as such, each served by a differentiated, “best-of-breed” solutions provider.
Our inclusion as one of four leaders in the new FCPM category is a testament to our unrelenting focus on continuous improvement, geared to what the market needs now and will need tomorrow. Our unified technology solution is designed to deliver consistent processes, visibility, greater usability, and a holistic view of the organization. It helps accountants close the books more efficiently, freeing them from the monotonous manual tasks of old.
Continuous Accounting is a measured and balanced alternative to the last mile of finance, and by adopting this methodology, we are helping F&A staff close the books at virtually the pace of business. By incrementally conducting the closing tasks, instead of letting all this work pile up at the end of the month, quarter or year, remarkable benefits pile up instead. Companies can lower their staffing costs, the risk of financial irregularities, and the burdens placed on staff, while presenting the opportunity for financial planning and analysis to deliver the business forecast in a faster timeframe.
Our journey has been one of unceasing innovation, sparked by our customer’s wants and needs, and we will continue to base our improvements on your enhancement suggestions. After all, continuous improvement means nothing unless it’s based on you.