A BlackLine implementation is a giant leap forward for greater efficiency in finance functions. But, after you take that leap, what’s next? There are countless ways to optimize your finance function in addition to implementing BlackLine.
BlackLine can be a great enabler of finance operating model transformations, because implementations have a way of exposing problem areas that can lead to better processes when addressed.
As an Ernst & Young LLP manager, I help clients see through the challenges to seize the opportunities, which I discussed in a presentation at InTheBlack this September.
Whether your finance function is centered around regions, functions, or processes, many clients face four main issues after implementations. Here’s what they are—and how to address them.
Lack of Governance & Executive Ownership
With a decentralized organizational structure, you can have disparate reconciliation processes with no ownership over them. Without clear design documentation and accountability for ownership, stakeholders won’t adhere to the established design standards.
And as implementation expands across an organization, you may encounter customization demands with limited ability to explain why each design decision was made and its impact to the overall functionality of BlackLine.
Establish an executive sponsor and working committee to approve requested changes, and define an administrator operating model that includes a center of excellence with clearly defined roles and responsibilities.
Document design decisions and the logic behind them, and establish a change control process for design updates.
Lack of Ongoing End-User Training or Onboarding Materials
New hires may receive disparate levels of training from peers, creating inconsistencies in how they use the solution. This inconsistency can dilute the value of BlackLine’s reporting capabilities if data is not captured in a manner that supports policy and procedures.
If users are unaware of functionality, or cannot leverage it because they weren’t trained properly, then the desired level of automation/process optimization will never be realized.
Develop an onboarding program for new hires that incorporates BlackLine University learning, organization-specific training manuals, and quick reference cards. Conduct quarterly or semiannual training sessions to ensure baseline knowledge and updated information is shared. Establish a quality review process and team to identify training opportunities.
BlackLine reporting functionality can help organizations identify training opportunities related to accounting policy, solution functionality, and reconciliation quality.
Lack of Organization & Change Management
Changing close processes with new processes, owners, and technologies can strain your resources. Mapping, splitting, and converting transactions from old to new processes and systems are tasks that require careful consideration through change management.
Embed change management at the core of the transition and implementation. Develop a communications strategy and stakeholder matrices so stakeholders and end users adopt the changes.
Limited Bandwidth for Continuous Improvement
Organizations may struggle to expand use cases for BlackLine functionality, preventing them from capturing higher levels of ROI. The strategic vision and objectives set forth during BlackLine implementation can be de-prioritized or unrealized.
Incentivize BlackLine center of excellence and administrators to identify areas of opportunity, and raise them to the executive sponsor/working committee that was established as part of your governance model.
Periodically review business requirements and the business case used to decide on a reconciliation solution. And expand the use of BlackLine modules or enhanced functionality to confirm that the business case benefits are fully realized.
With proactive planning, BlackLine is the enabling solution not just for greater efficiency, but for an end-to-end rethinking of what your finance function can achieve.
Build A Better Working World
In this Transformative Age, the pace of change has never been faster, and embracing transformation has never been more vital.
EY and BlackLine create new forms of customer value to help our clients rapidly transform. Together, we help them achieve transformational outcomes and be more agile, more innovative, and better equipped to respond to disruptive change.
Driven by people and powered by technology, EY and BlackLine spark true finance transformation to build a better working world. That’s Ecosystem Value Realized. You can find more information here.
The views expressed by the presenters are their own and not necessarily those of Ernst & Young LLP or other members of the global EY organization