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How to Aggregate Data Silos with Finance Automation

This article originally appeared in Tech Wire Asia.

Despite the spread of technologies throughout the enterprise since the late 1980s, there’s still a great deal of manual, repetitive, and (frankly) burdensome labor that must be undertaken in every enterprise finance department.

The nature of tax and corporate structures means that periodic reports and reviews must be created, the main body of which comprises facts and figures drawn from many different sources.

As well as a myriad of Excel spreadsheets, there will be crucial data in the organization’s ERP systems, different silos of information, and plenty of raw database repositories from which staff needs to make manual exports (into .csv or .xlsx, at best).

Additionally, because even the largest enterprise does not exist in isolation, the company’s banks, savings, and investment institutions, subsidiaries, acquired partner companies and otherwise, will all need to be mined for figures and information.

Until the arrival of overall management solutions that can achieve all of this (and indeed, automate a great deal of it) from companies like BlackLine, the emphasis placed on manual collation was both mandatory and highly costly.

The Problem with Repetition & Working Retrospectively

No one begins a career in finance dreaming of spending their days sorting through online and local file shares, in the (virtual and physical) filing cabinets of different divisions, and hand-pasting information from source x into destination y. But unfortunately, that’s the reality for many.

The need for accurate reports plus time-based reporting responsibilities means that many finance departments, even in large, enterprise-scale organizations, are effectively working retrospectively: reporting on what has happened, not what is happening.

Thankfully, the Continuous Accounting platform from BlackLine gives finance functions significant breathing room. The company’s software takes out much of the manual labor that has dominated the working, everyday lives of many finance professionals, not excluding VPs of Finance and other C-level executives.

The problem with repetition in daily working lives is that it’s very much prone to error: humans get bored with the endless cut and paste and would rather be—and are more sensibly redeployed to—doing something else.

The irony is that the inefficiency in many finance functions in the enterprise is a self-fulfilling prophecy. According to a BlackLine survey, in addition to human-created (or bored human-created) mistakes, 36% of CFOs state that it takes their organization nine to ten days per month of staff labor to identify and correct errors in financial data.

It gets worse. Sixty-one percent of executives said they’ve worked for a company that’s had to produce a full restatement of earnings more than once, because of errors that simply weren’t identified prior to close.

Proactive Strategic Development

BlackLine’s Finance Controls and Automation Platform enables financial reporting to become an on-going process using by-the-second accurate data. It transforms the whole stance of the finance function to become proactive strategic development, instead of the reactive, retrospective (but necessary) stance that predominated in yesteryear.

When added up, identified and unidentified mistakes in figures mean, on average, that 114 days per year are lost to information correction. Note that unidentified mistakes in this context are best summarized as “we know something’s wrong, but we’ll need to dig to find it.”

The sad fact is that until your company deploys a solution that’s capable of aggregating discrete data silos, interfacing with legacy systems (and those of third parties), and automating many of the processes that are currently driving your staff half mad, your company will struggle with its results—and not just at period-end.

Request a customized demo to discover how BlackLine could improve your business, today.