How NIKE Is Transforming Financial Close Processes with BlackLine

NIKE’s mission is to bring inspiration and innovation to everyone in the world, and this is centered around four pillars: being innovative, being sustainable, having a creative and diverse workforce, and being positive and impactful. When NIKE’s F&A teams decided to reengineer and transform their sales audit, payment validation process, and order-to-cash (O2C) function, they used these pillars as the foundation for their plan.

In a recent webinar with BlackLine, Chris Beltran, Global Product Manager in the Consumer Direct Finance Team at NIKE, talked about their transformation project and the exciting results they’ve had so far with BlackLine solutions.

According to Chris, as they began this journey, they were focused on solving five key challenges:

  • Sub-optimal retail O2C operational accounting processes
  • Significant time spent on data handling in an environment of growing transaction volumes
  • Errors, variances, and/or missing transactions that are difficult to identify and address
  • Limited bandwidth available to drive process improvements
  • Transactional details that must be reconciled between numerous disparate sources

Choosing a Solution

Addressing these top pain points served as the criteria for evaluating different solutions, which is why they ultimately chose BlackLine.

NIKE could see BlackLine’s ability to deliver a more standardized and global approach. As a global company, they needed a platform that could deal with multiple currencies, foreign symbols, and nuances in foreign countries that didn’t have standardized transactional processes.

They were also attracted to BlackLine’s ability to scale and integrate with other types of platforms, along with the fact that, from their research, it was already the leader in financial cloud-based processes.

Another added benefit is BlackLine’s partnership with SAP. NIKE is an SAP shop, so it was important for them to have tools that integrated with SAP platforms and modules to provide a more holistic solution. And now, as they’re continuing their migration to SAP S/4HANA, they’re utilizing BlackLine Transaction Matching and Account Reconciliations.

A Gradual Implementation Approach

NIKE took a crawl, walk, run, sprint approach to their implementation, gradually rolling out BlackLine across their different business units and geographies.

Chris says, “Now, we’re essentially taking [BlackLine] worldwide, which is why we were looking at a tool that could really support that. We do business globally here at NIKE and we needed a tool and a process that could adapt to that. So, as we go into our next fiscals, we are continuing to look at expanding this tool into all those other areas.”

Chris says, “As we start to build out this functionality and integrate it with our migration with SAP, the goal is to bring in some of the journal entry features that are available within the [BlackLine platform].

“This will help us manage some of the open items as we get into our more traditional balance sheet reconciliation, and as we feed some of these variance analysis and various investigations from our transaction matching module into the overall complete picture.”

Immediate Benefits & Results

NIKE is already seeing impactful results. Now that they’ve implemented BlackLine in several different geographies, they have one standardized process. Implementing it at a deeper level of granularity is allowing them to also build a process that could act as an audit in terms of missing sales.

They’ve achieved a 98% automatic matching rate for their revenue transactions to payment provider settlements and refunds, and from a business process perspective, this isn’t the end of their journey. It just means that at the end, their accountants will be spending most of their time on that 2% variance rather than having to manually tick and tie all transactions to get to the exceptions.

NIKE has the added visibility required for trend and forecasting analysis on payments that are coming in. They can now see when some of these transactions are settling and when they’re actually getting cash for them, as well as additional visibility into transactional fees associated with any payment gateway, payment acquirer, or payment processor.

Key Takeaways

“One of the biggest things I would say from our experience is know your data,” says Chris. “Because we are going to such a granular level of data to do this process, if you don’t know that data, I think you’ll lose some of the value when you’re trying to build a process to manage exceptions and variances.

“And if you’re unfamiliar with the data, even if you get visibility to that variance at that level, you may not know what you’re looking at. So, I think that to get an effective matching rate and an effective variance analysis process, knowing your data is key.”

Listen to the on-demand webinar for an in-depth look at the crawl, walk, run, sprint approach that NIKE is using to ensure a successful implementation.