BING Your ERP Is the Foundation, BlackLine Is the Solution | BlackLine Magazine

Your ERP Is the Foundation, BlackLine Is the Solution

The ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) has become a necessary foundation for any business, regardless of the size, industry, or operating structure. They are powerful, integrated systems that centralize business processes and act as a company-wide database.

Understanding what’s at the core of an ERP—processing and recording transactions—inclines you to think that the ERP was originally built with Accounting in mind. But any end-user who’s an accountant would think otherwise.

ERP systems were originally built with the intended goal of centralizing and automating back-office functions, and they do this well. However, as industries evolve and businesses grow, accounting standards and other regulations continue to change, creating processes and tasks that extend beyond the core functionality of what an ERP was built to do.

In a recent webinar, BlackLine and SiriusXM discussed why finance automation solutions are critical in today’s ever-evolving world. Wanjiku Kariuki, Senior Accounting Manager at SiriusXM also talked about how they transformed their accounting processes by running Oracle and closing with BlackLine.

Why Your ERP Can’t Ensure Financial Close Control

When it comes to the financial close process, most key activities that need to be completed take place outside of the ERP. This creates an unsettling reliance on error-prone spreadsheets, rather than a powerful, integrated system like your ERP.

So, why can’t you rely on ERPs like Oracle, SAP, or NetSuite to close your books accurately and on time? The following reasons are uncovered in the webinar.

Disparate systems hosting accounting data. As businesses grow, inheriting different systems is inevitable—and these systems don’t necessarily speak to each other, making it difficult to have one single source of truth.

Disjointed processes. Because many close activities take place outside of the ERP in Excel, accountants end up creating their own templates and processes to complete critical tasks.

Limited visibility. With multiple systems and disjointed processes, visibility at the transactional level becomes extremely difficult.

IT involvement required for certain capabilities. ERP systems are usually highly customized. Although necessary for complex and unique business structures, customization makes it near impossible for Accounting to pull reports and perform certain critical functions without IT’s help.

Without a financial close control and automation solution complementing your ERP, these limitations force accountants to complete key processes manually, increasing risk throughout the close.

A Real-Life Use Case: How SiriusXM Transformed Accounting

SiriusXM knew these limitations existed with Oracle, which is why they chose to implement BlackLine to transform their finance and accounting processes.

During the webinar, Wanjiku acknowledges the three pain points they experienced before BlackLine:

  1. Version control of supporting documents
  2. Storage of physical files
  3. Manual, cumbersome review process

Although none of these should come as a shock, SiriusXM’s main priority in finding a financial close solution was not to address them. Rather, they were seeking a solution to give them the transactional-level visibility that wasn’t possible with Oracle.

Discovering that BlackLine solved their other three pain points was only a bonus after their implementation.

Wanjiku says, “We did not get into BlackLine because of all that pain—that was just a bonus. We wanted to trace the lifecycle of cash. We wanted to know where each subscription dollar, when a subscriber paid, [was going].”

Another area of focus for SiriusXM was the tight integration between Oracle and BlackLine. In order for a solution to be truly complementary, they needed to ensure data could flow to and from Oracle into BlackLine seamlessly.

What’s Next for the BlackLine-ERP Relationship

As a leader in the financial close control and automation space, BlackLine has invested a significant amount of time and effort into enhancing connectivity with various systems.

As Stephen Wolfman, BlackLine’s Director of Product Management, mentioned in the webinar, we’ve developed specific ERP connectors that allow for greater integration, quick setup, and time-to-value, ultimately leading to a drastic decrease in time to retrieve data.

And our ERP connectivity plans don’t stop there. Check out the ondemand webinar to learn more about how BlackLine can help you achieve your finance transformation goals, all while complementing your current technology landscape.