Security has always been important to controllers and IT managers of companies that adopt cloud-based accounting technology. But it’s even more essential today, as Finance and Accounting and IT find themselves partnering even more closely on behalf of their companies’ strategic business goals.
This is according to David Brightman, director of product marketing at BlackLine. “Speed of data is critical to maintaining competitive advantage,” he says. “But the quality and trust of that data is even more critical for decision-making.
“IT is partnering with Finance more than ever before to accelerate technology modernization plans. Finance teams often cite improved data access and control, access to new functionality and innovations, and M&A appeal as top advantages of modernizing accounting technology.”
To the IT group, BlackLine’s intelligent workflows, automation rules, reporting, and analytics are off-the-shelf solutions—so IT doesn’t have to be involved day-to-day with tactical business support. IT does get involved in other ways, connecting GL, subledgers, and other systems to BlackLine’s APIs to optimize the flow of data across the IT architecture.
Breaking Down Data Silos
Thanks to the expanding nature of today’s finance/IT partnership, accounting data is readily available for the most common accounting activities, like journal entries, reconciliations, and intercompany accounting. This reduces data silos, spreadsheets, and manual extracts/imports that are often vulnerable.
By centralizing accounting data and processes and automating low-value, manual work, Finance and Accounting have more time for analysis, such as balance sheet fluctuations or major changes in working capital. They might review a potential new business model or the impact of a divestiture or acquisition.
“In every case, Finance and IT are both trying to drive predictable, profitable growth, to understand where the company should be investing,” says Brightman. “To do that, and to do it well, they need to have fast, accurate, and complete data. The cloud technology they choose must be secure, with controls and leading practices built in.”
What’s in a Cloud?
CIOs and CFOs sleep better at night with less risky spreadsheet and data sprawl and the utmost data and application security. Having all your business’s financial data in one place does mean that it’s essential to have strong security controls. The best way to determine the quality of a vendor’s cloud security is to look closely at the relevant standards it supports and the quality of its data center and cloud providers, Brightman notes.
To meet the extra level of trust that Finance, Accounting, and IT jointly demand, the cloud vendor should not only attest to a range of security controls from the SSAE and ISAE families, but also certify against the most rigorous security standards like ISO/IEC 27001 and ISO/IEC 27017.
The vendor’s cloud technology should provide standardized, documented APIs so IT can be comfortable connecting ERP and other systems to the accounting cloud platform.
Finally, the vendor should use industry-leading data center and cloud providers, and make that information available at IT’s request as well.
“The better and more secure the cloud technology, the better and more productive the partnership will be between Finance and IT,” says Brightman. “And the more effective both groups will be at converting financial data into business information that’s complete, accurate, and trustworthy for the enterprise.”
Read our latest issue of BlackLine Quarterly for more stories like this that can help your F&A organization move out of the disruption caused by the pandemic and into the light of a more normal—and fruitful—future.