BlackLine Blog

October 06, 2020

SAP Account Substantiation & Automation by BlackLine Can Jumpstart an SAP S/4HANA Move

Modern Accounting
3 Minute Read

Christina Grace

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This blog was originally published by SAP. It’s a 5-minute read.

The traditional accounting close can be quite chaotic during a normal quarter, but adding in new responsibilities for Accounting and Finance during a system implementation can create added tension.

SAP clients often benefit from enhanced and early automation, visibility, and control both during and after a transition. This is where SAP Account Substantiation and Automation by BlackLine (SAP Solution Extensions by BlackLine) comes in.

When considering a move to SAP S/4HANA, implementing SAP Solution Extensions by BlackLine as a first step can pay dividends later in the project. Currently, 700+ SAP customers close with SAP Solution Extensions by BlackLine, and many have noted it adds early value to an SAP S/4HANA transition by saving time and reducing manual effort, replacing traditional spreadsheet-heavy processes with leading practices.

SAP Solution Extensions by BlackLine also help unify and standardize key tasks, workflows, and supporting documents in the cloud, driving accountability through visibility with real-time reporting and KPIs, and creating momentum with quick wins.

Customers also find that it streamlines and simplifies their audits by allowing for an auditor self-service approach and reducing the time spent on audit prep and support.

What Are Our Customers Saying?

At SAP, we find that our customers struggle with:

  • Limited visibility into status and incomplete tasks

  • Disparate systems and processes resulting in complexity and inconsistency

  • Audit support and controls documentation that is difficult to access and costly to store

  • Heavy reliance on manual, detective controls

  • Increased risk of turnover

  • Employees feeling underutilized and underdeveloped

  • Heavy overtime required on a regular basis

  • Little to no ability to absorb new work without headcount increases

  • Finance resources supporting other projects/initiatives

SAP Solution Extensions by BlackLine can address these issues and help customers make a seamless move to SAP S/4HANA. Because these solutions can be deployed quickly in the cloud, they can deliver quick time to value.

Starting an SAP S/4HANA move by automating some of your most time-consuming transactional activities frees up finance resources to better support implementation strategies.

By automating activities such as clearing open items, risk and manual effort are reduced before cutover. SAP Solution Extensions by BlackLine help maintain the company chart of accounts by improving visibility and control through mapping legacy data to any new structures.

This is done by mapping and validating historical data and structures against new SAP S/4HANA structures, providing a link between the two.  The use of SAP Solution Extensions by BlackLine also improves governance and simplifies audits with standardized segregation of duties and embedded, out-of-the-box best practices.

What Are the Experts Saying?

The Hackett Group found that organizations that exhibit the traits of top performers, adopting best practices around automation, cutting manual processes, and defining business processes, share some significant results.

Top performers close the books faster and most have much greater automation than their peers. They are automating reconciliations, intercompany processes, and reporting.

This automation means that many have both lower reporting fees and a more efficient process for getting from record to report, and are likely better positioned to move to a modern ERP. This often results in fewer FTEs performing mundane transactional work, freeing them up for more strategic, motivating work.

These employees, compared to the broader group, tend to feel more valued and are compensated at a higher rate—reflecting a shift from tactical talent to strategic talent.

How SAP Solution Extensions by BlackLine

The needs of the finance organization have changed, as finance and accounting professionals are called upon to be business strategists. Of course, “keeping the lights on” is still very important, but the way to do so has changed dramatically.

Intelligent innovations have automated, simplified, streamlined, and in some cases, removed redundant processes from much of the day to day, manually intensive, transactional work. Technology has transformed.

In a recent study, CFOs have found that an SAP S/4HANA implementation with SAP Solution Extensions by BlackLine creates a more engaged, well-utilized organization, promotes best-in-class processes that serve as a model for other departments, establishes a culture of continuous improvement, and creates a vision for the future.

All of this means that finance teams can turn their energies to helping the organization shape and execute business strategy. Finance can now provide in-depth, granular, real-time views of holistic global performance, effectively super-charging the executive decision-making process.

The Hackett Group summarizes how Finance helps meet today’s global challenges as follows:

Performance is especially important in light of the current economic disruption.  SAP Solution Extensions by BlackLine is helping SAP customers adapt as follows:

The Value of S/4HANA Finance Combined with SAP Solution Extensions by BlackLine

In summary, sequencing SAP Solution Extensions by BlackLine before an SAP S/4HANA implementation allows for:

  • A “quick win” that delivers time savings and an attractive ROI

  • Designing processes that are desired state rather than replicating current state

  • Automating manual tasks within SAP

  • Identifying balance sheet risk and analyzing trends before an upgrade

  • Easier validation of financial data before, during, and after cutover

Companies moving from traditional ERPs to SAP S/4HANA have realized significant benefits when they begin their journey with SAP Solution Extensions by BlackLine. As each enterprise is at a different level of maturity, SAP Solution Extensions by BlackLine can work with you to determine your value proposition.

Find out more about SAP Solution Extensions by BlackLine.

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Christina Grace