Companies come to BlackLine because they have a capacity problem—too much work, and not nearly enough time to do it. They're looking for efficiency and automation, and more visibility, control, and consistency. That’s why thousands of accounting teams use BlackLine to set up their balance sheet recs and other close-related items.
What’s Wrong with Excel for Account Reconciliation?
Don’t get us wrong—we’re big fans of Excel! Many BlackLine employees were F&A professionals in their prior careers, and they’ve written thousands of Excel macros over the years and used spreadsheets to tackle all kinds of processes. But Excel has its limits, especially around control. The truth is: we’re not trying to eliminate Excel—we want to reduce the risk of errors and reduce repetitive, manual effort.
With Excel processes, if you ask 10 accountants about their approach to the same rec, you’ll probably get 10 slightly different answers. That's a big reason for leveraging BlackLine’s best-practice-based templates. Consistency is good for everyone, especially reviewers, new team members, and auditors.
An Example of an Account Rec with Excel
Let’s use an example of a rec in Excel using a prepaid expense account (see the example below). Imagine you have a retail business that has multiple stores, and you’re working on the prepaid property taxes account. In Excel, you’ll probably have a summary sheet, which is linked to each of the stores individually, which each have dates and calculations that are broken down by category. There are sheets for all the other stores. The more stores you add, the more complex it gets and the bigger the file grows—it can be tough to manage.
In Excel, of course, you could link some things together, and you can set up calculations, which could update the calculations based on what period you’re working in. But most people don’t go to that level of effort.
One of the options you have in BlackLine is to attach your Excel file. You can add a description that says, ‘see Excel file for calculations.’ Another way would be to summarize each of the stores—store one, two, and three, and the balances. You’ll still come up to that same balance comparing to the GL.
Account Reconciliation with BlackLine
But what if you could leverage BlackLine’s templates to gain more visibility, control, and efficiency? Let’s use an example of the amortizable prepaid template.