Prior to late 2019, a manufacturing company based out of Nashville, Tennessee relied on two home-grown SharePoint solutions (one for North America, another for Latin America) to manage the balance sheet substantiation process. Staff performed account reconciliations in spreadsheets and attached completed documents to the databases.
“We fall under the shared services organization and the chief accounting office, so we work across multiple ERPs, regions, and countries. We have a lot of volume, a lot of variation, and a lot of people involved in our processes,” says their director of record-to-report.
“With our legacy SharePoint systems, there was no real workflow. SharePoint was just a repository for the documents. And because the entire process was so manual, there were a lot of opportunities for things to go wrong.”
As the company grew, the manual processes also led to an increasing lack of visibility, difficulties meeting compliance requirements, and concern about internal controls.
“Management and senior leadership were asking, ‘Why is it so hard to execute our close and controls processes?’” says their director. “We knew that having a homegrown SharePoint site and thousands of accounts, along with hundreds of users and multiple locations, were definitely part of the problem.”
The Modern Accounting Solution
Leadership was on board for improving the quality and efficiency of key accounting processes, but the director and her team still needed to build the business case for a new solution.
“We're an SAP shop, so obviously BlackLine was a front runner in terms of fitting with our technology and ERP landscape. But we still had to show how BlackLine fit into our broader transformation strategy. We were also competing against other IT initiatives.”
While BlackLine’s SAP integration and alignment with SAP was a key element in helping their director build a strong business case, it was their long-term plans to move to SAP S/4HANA that clinched the deal.
Closing Virtually with Confidence
With BlackLine, the F&A organization has reduced time to completion by 50%. The ability to shorten this aspect of the close has been a game changer.
“It’s immensely valuable. Especially if you're looking at balance sheet substantiation not just as a ‘check-the-box’ process from a controls and compliance perspective, but making sure that what you're reporting is accurate. It’s also helped with errors: we can find them faster and certainly before the books are officially closed in Japan.”
They’ve also maintained processes despite navigating the disruption of the global pandemic. Like many other organizations, their accounting and finance teams had to transition rapidly to working from home.
“Having BlackLine was a tremendous help, because we went 100% work from home right after we went live. One of our biggest success stories is that we saw our completion rates stay the same as we shifted to working remotely. We didn’t miss a beat, despite everyone suddenly working in a completely new environment,” she says.
“We had a successful virtual close without introducing much risk. I think leadership was really surprised at how effectively we were able to close the books remotely for the first time ever.”
Read the full success story to learn how their F&A teams are improving accountability and efficiency with automation.