Under Armour, Inc. knows all about keeping cool. Based on its ability to deliver a better mousetrap – or, specifically, a better approach to the problem of sweaty T-shirts and undergarments for high-energy athletes – the multi-billion dollar company has grown to become a world leader in the performance-apparel and footwear markets.
But with its consistent 20-percent-or-better yearly revenue growth, Under Armour’s own energy was creating some real challenges for the company’s accounting team. Account reconciliations and other processes were handled manually, and this caused slowdowns in tracking company finances.
To track account recs, the team printed out reconciliations in three-ring binders; binders that were created and stored at several locations. These added a degree of complexity to the reconciliation process – complexity that UA didn’t need, considering the company processed about 800 transactions in a single quarter in 2015.
It’s critical to have account balances reviewed by the proper people before we report results and publish our financial statements.
It was common for supporting information to be printed out and stapled to the manually-prepared journal entries. And the review process, also handled manually, required staffers to consult a sign-off matrix to determine current status.
Senior corporate accountant Michael Williams notes that the manual system put the company at risk from a controls perspective, as well: “It’s critical to have account balances reviewed by the proper people before we report results and publish our financial statements.”
Under Armour brought in BlackLine’s Account Reconciliations product in late 2012, and has since added Task Management and Journal Entry. The company is now able to auto-certify about 25 percent of account reconciliations, and estimates it saves at least a full day of administrative time each month.
Also, according to senior manager of corporate accounting Molly Boyle, “We can now complete our end-to-end reconciliation process several business days earlier than before.” BlackLine’s software has also helped Under Armour put in place better controls than before. Some examples:
- Trial balance checking – To help the company analyze the risks associated with GL accounts, BlackLine lets Under Armour assign risk ratings to accounts, and then determines the necessary level of review based on company policy.
- Scalable approval workflow – Automated review workflows see that journal entries are routed to appropriate managers, especially important for some of the larger, thousand-line journal entries.
- Controlled auditor access – BlackLine’s auditor function gives auditors read-only access to journals, reconciliations and key controls, and ensures that all records have completed their internal reviews before becoming visible to the auditors.
- Best of all, BlackLine is giving Under Armour the freedom to grow without being restrained by outdated financial processes.
“We get a lot more value out of the time that our staff and senior managers are spending during and after we close the books,” says Boyle. “And from a scalability perspective, BlackLine has given the corporate headquarters the visibility we need as we expand globally and stand up offices with small accounting teams across the globe.”