Finance Automation’s Contribution to Our New Virtual World

4-minute read

Efficiency, better insights, and responsiveness are some of the benefits that purpose-built accounting and finance technology are delivering to today’s enterprises. And technology has become more essential than ever before as F&A organizations around the world continue to respond to the unique new demands of the COVID-19 pandemic.

That’s the view of Americas Finance Solutions leader Samir Jaipati and Finance Consulting Partner Tracey Gunter, at Ernst & Young LLP.

“We’re seeing an acceleration of automation in business that begins with Accounting and extends to other finance and operational areas,” says Jaipati. “We have clients that are saving 20, 30% or more in manual work with technologies like those offered by BlackLine, and that is freeing up accountants to add more value not just to Finance, but to business priorities across the enterprise.

“Automation has given us the ability to pull in more data than ever before. But it also gives us the resources to apply to analyzing that data—something that couldn’t be done before.”

Frequent Forecasts

That ability helps Finance respond more quickly to business demands for more frequent forecasts and analytics, something that’s becoming critical with today’s fast-changing market conditions.

Jaipati notes that before the pandemic, it was common for companies to update their forecasts every month. But during this crisis, the forecast variables are changing rapidly, and better digital tools are helping Finance adjust to that.

“During the initial period of this crisis, for many organizations, the business situation was changing every day,” he says. “So, instead of monthly forecasts, Finance was being asked to do frequent scenario planning and weekly updates to forecasts.”

“The rapid response helped boost agility for the entire enterprise, since Finance is the glue that connects the dots of the organization’s various operations. More timely insights improve business agility and help managers across the enterprise make better business decisions.”

Process Visibility

Gunter notes that a major factor in promoting efficiency is the process visibility that automation brings to accounting professionals who are working remotely.

“This is something we’re seeing with clients,” Gunter says. “With so many people now working from home, visibility into the close is more important than ever. This is a place where BlackLine’s Task Management solution is a significant help, because it gives the business the ability to see where people are in the close cycle.

“Visibility has always been valuable, but it’s even more important when you’re working away from the office and dealing with so many distractions.”

Gunter agrees with Jaipati that accelerating the close with automation is beneficial, because it frees up resources that can help Finance contribute to other high-value activities in support of strategic business imperatives.

“Accounting automation pulls time and expertise out of the close cycle, so it can be applied to other needs in the organization,” Gunter says. “Business leaders are asking more from Finance than they ever have before. The good news is that Finance has more capabilities than ever before, and that helps companies deal with the challenges of today—and tomorrow.”

Read our new issue of BlackLine Quarterly for more stories like this, including:

  • Accounting with a Distributed Workforce: How to Make it Work
  • How BlackLine’s Intercompany Hub is Helping Companies Go Digital
  • An Audit-Ready Control Environment Is Needed More Than Ever Before

The views reflected in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the members of the global EY organization or Ernst & Young LLP.