There’s a reason why Atlanta-based UHY Advisors is one of the leading professional services firms in the field, and why they’ve also reached Platinum Partner status with BlackLine: UHY thinks of financial/accounting solutions in terms of the overall process, and the firm approaches client implementations the same way.
UHY Advisors is an audit, tax, and business consulting company and a member of the UHY International worldwide network. Formed in 2000, UHY Advisors is one of the largest CPA professional services firms in the US. The company became a BlackLine partner in 2006.
“The minute we saw BlackLine we knew it was something special,” says Brad Baer, principal for UHY Advisors. “We saw the automation – of account reconciliation and other elements in the record-to-report process. It was like nothing we’d seen before.”
Baer also saw that BlackLine would help UHY Advisors take a process-centric approach to client engagements.
“Rather than just look at a trouble spot, we like to see the client’s entire process,” he says. “That’s the best way to prescribe a solution that doesn’t just fix the initial problem, but produces long- term improvement.”
UHY’s methodology begins with a balance-sheet review, then goes to an examination of accounts to find what data, ERP systems and subsystems drive the accounts.
“We’re asking detailed questions, but we’re also looking at the overall process,” says Baer. “Like, what are the business processes, and what specific problems does the client need to solve?
“For instance, one company was using an ERP system for the balance sheet. We asked how they did cash reconciliations, and they said that they were automated – meaning, by the ERP software. Of course, the term ‘automation’ can mean different things to different people.
“So we asked what happens when things don’t match, and they said they just dump the exceptions into spreadsheets and do them manually. Then we asked how many of those were processed manually, and they told us about 5,000 – each month.”
Where BlackLine Fits
BlackLine’s process-automation capabilities are vital to the UHY approach, as is BlackLine’s ease of implementation.
“BlackLine’s core technology is so powerful that you don’t need custom development,” says Baer. “It’s all in how you configure the system out of the box. Want to upload balances? Just use the import templates.
“This means we can create, test, and iterate solutions for clients at a speed that’s uncommon in the enterprise software space.”
Perhaps most valuable to UHY’s process-centric approach is BlackLine’s core platform, which features a unified code base. Thanks to its unified platform, BlackLine’s workflow, transaction-matching and other functions work seamlessly across all modules. That gives UHY an end-to-end view for using root cause analysis and other process-improvement tools.
The unified code base also lets UHY help companies overcome some of the limitations of their ERP and other enterprise systems.
“There are three basic technologies that you see in enterprises,” Baer says.
“You’ve got ERP for the main business functions, CPM for performance management, and GRC for governance and compliance. BlackLine performs tasks that are essential to each one. And because of its unified platform, it makes sure that the core financial information in each is accurate and consistent.”
Maintaining accuracy and consistency is challenging to people working with a variety of ERP, CPM, and GRC applications because those systems typically use different databases.
“With BlackLine, you can do account recs and journaling for ERP, financial close reporting for the CPM group, and controls assurance and transaction matching for the GRC team,” Baer says. “And even though the review workflows are routed from one module to the other, users know they’ll all be getting data and reports based on a single set of data.”