BlackLine Blog

February 14, 2019

4 Reasons Accountants Can Do Better Than Ticking & Tying

Modern Accounting
2 Minute Read

Katie Morris

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Every accountant loves a good VLOOKUP, but when you end up spending most of your time manipulating data in Excel, you start to wonder what that accounting degree is for.

In a perfect world, accountants would spend the majority of their time focusing on validation and analysis of account balances and results. Unfortunately, that’s often not the reality.

When a process or account has thousands of transactions coming from multiple sources, accounting resources get stuck in the weeds―spending a significant amount of time ticking and tying data just to identify the transactions needing follow-up.

Essentially, they’re searching for a needle in a haystack.

When reconciling data for high-volume processes like cash, credit card, intercompany, and procure-to-pay, the focus should be on the exceptions, not the lion’s share of transactions, which are processed or posted as expected.

Companies are turning to automation to shift reliance away from error-prone spreadsheets and free up their valuable accounting resources for more strategic tasks.

Here are four reasons you can do better than manually ticking and tying transactions.

So Many Transactions, So Little Time

Time is our most valuable asset. And when we spend it manually matching thousands, maybe millions of transactions per month, it’s hard to do much of anything else.

The month-end close often means a peak in workload, and accountants end up working long hours just to get through their checklist. An inordinate amount of time is spent manipulating data instead of analyzing it.

Why not get some time back by allowing technology to automate manual processes?

Nothing’s Cool About Errors

Time spent isn’t the only challenge with manually ticking and tying. It’s also the risk of errors, especially in complex scenarios like one-to-many and many-to-many.

A complicated Excel formula might look cool, but it’s not cool to find a hard-coded number on row 465 of your workbook and not know why.

Accountants are highly skilled and take great pride in their work. But nobody’s perfect―especially when it’s late at night and you’ve been staring at the same spreadsheets for hours.

Manually comparing data sources during the account reconciliation process also makes it near impossible for organizations to identify variances in real-time. Add expected and unexpected company growth to the mix and you have a process unable to scale nor deliver real-time results.

You’re a Strategic Advisor, Not a Bookkeeper

When an organization has its accounting staff manually matching data, there’s an opportunity cost associated with this allocation of talent.

Accountants should be utilizing their skills to assess assumptions in reserve models, evaluating management judgments and estimates, or assisting with business decisions. Not checking and re-checking spreadsheets.

Automation can free up your time, so that you can be the strategic advisor you’re meant to be.

Focus on the Why, Not the What

During month-end you should be focusing the why and not the what of an account reconciliation. Actually substantiating and analyzing account balances is a critical part of the account reconciliation process, but one that’s often left to the very end, because accountants had to match transactional details first.

This leaves little time to answer questions like, “what impact does this increase have on the P&L?” or “why is there a decrease from the prior year?”

A More Valuable Way to Spend Your Time

Next time you find yourself deep in a complicated, multi-tabbed Excel file or stuck in the monotony of comparing data between sources, consider how much better your time would be spent doing something more stimulating.

Spending hours manually ticking and tying transactions to identify the exceptions is not only a waste of time, it’s a waste of talent. Analyzing and utilizing judgment to make critical business decisions are the skills your accounting degree gave you―so why not spend your time using them?

Schedule a demonstration of BlackLine’s Transaction Matching solution to see how industry-leading technology can change the way you work.

About the Author


Katie Morris