Businesses run better when upper management has full visibility into the workings of the organization. In accounting and finance, visibility is even more critical because the business lives or dies by its numbers.
What’s also becoming increasingly important is visibility into the processes that produce, correct, and report on those numbers.
In organizations who have implemented accounting automation, process visibility helps maintain confidence in the automated processes themselves. This is valuable to accountants who are used to seeing all their numbers on spreadsheets and are now being asked to trust in processes that, while tightly integrated and controlled, work their magic out of the accountant’s view.
The combination of process visibility and best-practice reporting tools is helping democratize the analytical capabilities of those who perform the day-to-day accounting tasks.
People who are using these tools are now more encouraged than ever before to look into any process anomalies they may suspect while doing their normal tasks. This helps the accountant grow and learn, and it can pay benefits to the company by catching a problem before it does significant damage.
Instilling Confidence in the Numbers
Process visibility is valuable to business unit managers, and to C-level executives as well. The better that business unit managers understand the workings of finance, the more likely they are to enter into data-sharing partnerships – for evaluating new-business endeavors, for instance – with their finance counterparts.
Process visibility is vital for sharing information with C-level executives and board members as well, whose responsibilities include maintaining and building trusted relationships with industry analysts, investors, regulators, and others.
Executives are expected to have confidence in their finance operations, and process visibility can be used to deliver and demonstrate that confidence.
Making Processes Visible
To make process visibility a reality, finance needs to activate these two features of today’s state-of-the-art automation systems.
An advanced, integrated automation system should have a mechanism for capturing the steps, in detail, of all tasks in the accounting workflow. This makes it possible to see how long it takes to perform each task, and it can point to problems or slowdowns in the workflow.
It then lets you create KPIs such as auto-reconciliation percentage, total rejection percentage, average assignment rejection rate or even multiple rejected assignment percentage. In all, BlackLine’s products come standard with a total of 15 KPIs along with the tools you need to create additional customized measures.
Collecting KPIs is the first step. Making them visible through easy-to-read dashboards is the second.
Visualization can reveal complex details and relationships quickly and easily, making them suitable for interpretation not just by controllers and CFOs, but also by business unit and executive managers. This is a benefit to helping non-finance executives discover – and gain confidence in – the value of finance to other groups in the organization.
In addition, a system like BlackLine adds a state-of-the-art solution that fosters continuous improvement, and therefore excellence, in the processes themselves: process benchmarking.
BlackLine makes process benchmarking possible by collecting and anonymizing KPI data from companies in different industries and then making this data available for comparative benchmarking by clients.
This feature lets the finance group compare its process performance to its industry peers and demonstrate process excellence. It can also play an integral role in building continuous improvement into the mechanisms – and the culture – of the organization’s finance operation.
Read British Gas’ story to discover how they saved time and experienced a significant ROI from dashboard visibility and tightened controls.