May 25, 2021

The Modern Accounting Summit in APAC: Intelligent Automation & Customer Conversations

“Cash is vital to every business. With working capital becoming increasingly more critical, there’s a renewed focus on how organizations manage cash in the business.  

“We help solve a problem every organization is struggling with: unlocking their cash.”  

BlackLine’s Managing Director of AR Automation Kevin Kimber explained this in the opening keynote of our second virtual Modern Accounting Summit this year, which took place in the APAC region last week. This event was created to help you take the next step in your modern accounting journey and transform your F&A organisation.  

The two new accounts receivable solutions that BlackLine recently introduced play a key role, reducing manual activity by as much as 85% and collecting more cash using AI automation across your order-to-cash process.  

Kimber said, “With an automated AR and financial close process, payments are placed into accounts daily, enabling cash to be collected and applied in real time and the financial close and audit process to be a seamlessly integrated and efficient process. This is modern Continuous Accounting in action.  

“Intelligent automation for order-to-cash enables the controllership to function to drive business decisions with more accurate and complete results to better guide executive management, the board, and investors.”  

BlackLine Cash Application removes manual effort and provides a streamlined, efficient, and automated process. It automatically applies incoming customer payments to outstanding invoices. Customers who are using Cash Application see anywhere between 75-95% of incoming payments automatically applied to an invoice level.  

Customers of all sizes and across every industry consistently see impressive results like these: 

  • 90% reduction in unallocated cash 
  • 85% reduction in manual activity and improved process times 
  • 20% reduction in bad debt provision 
  • 10-day reduction in Days Sales Outstanding 

Our new AR Intelligence solution enables AR, credit, and collections teams to manage financial risks and opportunities by providing access to real-time, actionable insights. Kimber says, “It provides critical information into customer financial behaviors that most could only dream of having the time to produce.” 

BlackLine AR Intelligence empowers accounting and finance teams to claim their evolving role as business partner by turning data into valuable information that drives intelligent business decisions. 

Getting excited about what these solutions could mean for your F&A organisation? Keep reading for more of the highlights and key takeaways from our Modern Accounting Summit in APAC, including customer conversations and a sneak peek into our product roadmap.  

If you missed a few sessions or the entire event, you can watch them on demand here.  

 

The Intercompany Journey: Enabling Your Top Use Cases 

Intercompany processes are manual and time consuming. Unfortunately, it’s only getting harder and harder with new regulations. Intercompany accounting includes so many different teams, processes, and back and forth, making it all costly and unsustainable.  

This all significantly impacts: 

  • Financial close and reporting 
  • Resource efficiency and compliance 
  • Scalability and integrations 
  • Earnings 
  • Working capital 

Modern intercompany accounting isn’t like that. BlackLine Intercompany Hub acts as the subledger for all intercompany activity, connecting people, data, and the complete financial ecosystem. The streamlined process should let you move from transaction creation to balancing and substantiation, netting and settlement to consolidation and elimination. It makes it easier to connect your tax, accounting, and treasury teams so they can all interface with the same system while regularly collaborating with each other.  

With all of that in place, Intercompany Hub allows you to proactively govern the lifecycle of all transactions across the enterprise. It can help you from creation to balancing to settling, while keeping your enterprise governance and visibility remains a focal point.  

Here are a few common use cases for Intercompany Hub.

Cross Charges & Allocations 

This is focused on non-trade and intangibles. From a creation perspective, Intercompany Hub can automatically initiate these transactions. Because cross-charges and allocations are often a mathematical, driver-based process, you can completely automate these, setting and forgetting until you revisit your policies. 

Intercompany Hub will pull in the information you need based on the use cases you’ve enabled so it can automatically prepare the transactions.  

Transfer Pricing Adjustments 

In cases involving entity level, top-side adjustments, you don’t need to make determinations and adjustments through email, you can control the process from end-to-end. Here’s a quick example: 

  1. Preparation: Periodic evaluation for transfer pricing adjustments by entity 
  2. Transaction Creation: Adjustments by entity imported with supporting documentation 
  3. Workflow & Certification: Transactions reviewed and certified 
  4. Postings: Adjustments by entity automatically posted across ERP ledgers 

Trade Processing Across ERPs 

In this case, the initiation occurs in an ERP and is a trigger that can be interfaced into Intercompany Hub to facilitate the cross-ERP processing. Periodically, other information will be interfaced as well. At that point, BlackLine can facilitate the trade processing to other, disparate ERP systems while checking that things are approved and match the sales order. 

It’s all automated so you can make adjustments and efficiently manage your processes with Intercompany Hub. 

Product Roadmap: The New (Inter-) Face of BlackLine 

In the upcoming August release, the BlackLine user interface will receive an exciting refresh. This update involves visual and layout enhancements to create an easier-to-use experience. In this session, BlackLine Product Manager Deen Wright gave an overview of the new user interface and an in-depth live demo of the new features. 

The updated user interface has already been rolled out to a select group of users and will continue to roll out in phases through August. The BlackLine team has been collecting detailed feedback as the first two phases progress to ensure the best experience for every customer. 

This update will bring a refreshed homepage dashboard which is now divided into two sections, “My Work” and “Analytics.” The new layout also has an interactive cross-period view for enhanced visibility, offering a high-level overview and the ability to drill down into detailed records. On the Analytics dashboard, each user can create a customized view by selecting up to nine tiles to fit their individual needs. 

The updated global header will also offer an enhanced period selector. Users can now collapse and expand by year, which was a highly requested feature. 

The left navigation pane has been adjusted with a more efficient layout which takes up less space on the screen. Each page will also scale to the user’s monitor size. 

This new user interface brings consistency across more than 90% of the application for BlackLine users. In addition, the buttons on each page have been redesigned with new colors for emphasis, helping to direct the user to the primary action on the page, and creating an easier and more intuitive experience overall. 

Product Roadmap: Account Analysis

We all know that manual account reconciliation is time-consuming and creates significant challenges, including inconsistent transaction risk management, minimal visibility, and inefficient risk mitigation.  

“Companies spend countless hours tracking down issues related to transactions that fall outside a given threshold, and require further detective work in the investigation,” says BlackLine Senior Product Manager Andrzej Komorowski. 

Account Analysis is the latest innovation to BlackLine Account Reconciliations. It automates the process of analyzing accounts at the transaction level as part of a suite of automated reconciliation solutions, working together in sequence.  

Here are the exciting benefits Account Analysis can deliver to your F&A teams: 

  • Automated categorization. The solution automatically categorizes transactions by the same type of event/activity. 
  • Transaction management. Assures proper handling of aged transactions with trending over time based on automatic data carry-forward to subsequent periods.  
  • Action planning. Enables trackable comments, notes, and documents at the transaction level with added action plan management.  
  • Continuous reconciliation. Avoids the month-end close crunch, tracking down missed or unexplained transactions.  

“With Account Analysis, we’re enhancing our core functionality and innovating the BlackLine solutions you’ve long trusted. This equips you to proactively mitigate risk and have clear action plans to manage and explain exceptions throughout the month, instead of rushing during the close,” says Komorowski.  

“This is a huge step in the complete automation cycle of account reconciliations that delivers actionable visibility into financial data.” 

Watch this session on-demand for a deeper dive into this new solution, along with detailed use cases and a demo.  

Customer Conversations: Delaware North Runs Oracle & Closes with BlackLine 

Delaware North is a privately-owned global leader in the service and hospitality industry, with over 55,000 employees and more than 100 years in business.  

Delaware North’s finance initiative began a few years ago with the goal of solving several key problems that hindered the F&A team. Before BlackLine, they had struggled with decentralized operations, labor-intensive systems with physical records, and a manual reconciliation process.  

This led to a lack of visibility and difficulty with communication, especially surrounding overdue tasks. Looking ahead, their goal was to find a solution that was effective, scalable, and automated.  

Ronald Mendoza, senior analyst of financial systems at Delaware North says they chose BlackLine because of the key features that eased many of the team’s difficulties, including real-time reporting, a defined workflow, automation capabilities, and most importantly, easy integration with its existing ERP system, Oracle PeopleSoft. 

To close with BlackLine, the F&A team at Delaware North uses a combination of Task Management, Journal Entries, Account Reconciliation, and Transaction Matching. Within these solutions, the F&A team now experiences: 

  • A clear picture of their close checklist 
  • Increased visibility to resolve any potential delays in the close  
  • Automated processes that increase efficiency and free up team members for other important tasks 
  • A reduction in data errors due to increased automation and decreased manual data entry 
  • Seamless integration with Oracle PeopleSoft for a better workflow 

The F&A team at Delaware North now enjoys increased visibility, a significantly reduced number of errors, and maximized efficiency through automation and integrations. 

Watch the Modern Accounting Summit on demand to take the next step in your journey to modern accounting.

 

Shannon Maynard, Kevin Gossett & Jill Kane

Modern Accounting