For nearly two centuries, Dun & Bradstreet has been helping companies uncover truth and meaning from data. Global companies of every size, including around 90% of the Fortune 500, rely on Dun & Bradstreet every day for data, insights, and analytics.
Yet Dun & Bradstreet’s focus on continual growth, while great for the company’s bottom line, put increasing pressure on the Finance department. By running Oracle Financials for core accounting, they saw a significant opportunity to further their finance transformation journey by automating more of their close.
We spoke with Gretchen Sikora, Senior Finance Leader at Dun & Bradstreet, who commented, “Our organization is challenged every day to support the business’s concentration on global growth, while still executing the close in the most modern and efficient way.”
Before adding automation to Oracle Financials, Sikora recalls, “We never knew the true status of key financial processes. This created an environment of many surprises during the financial close, which made us a reactive instead of a proactive organization.”
Finance Transformation in Action
Before adding cloud-based accounting automation technology that integrated with Oracle Financials, the Dun & Bradstreet staff spent countless hours manually tracking and monitoring the close process. Today, after rethinking their financial close and use of technology, they have more resources to focus on strategic work, such as analysis instead of data entry and information gathering.
The prime opportunities for technology-driven automation at Dun & Bradstreet were to reconcile transactions and accounts, especially regarding auto-certification, regular flux analysis, and streamlining task management and approval processes. They focused on cloud technology to enhance these procedures.
Like any strategic business initiative, careful planning of current and future needs was critical to success, and followed these seven essential steps.
1. Think integrated with Oracle—and beyond.
For Dun & Bradstreet, integration with Oracle Financials was important, particularly with matching, task management, journal entry, variance analysis, and packaged connectivity. But equally important was the breadth of capability to integrate with different ERPs and financial data sources, to give them room to grow and change in the future.
2. Ensure there’s enough automation runway.
Near-term, it was important to automate parts of the financial close process with BlackLine Transaction Matching and auto-certification. But they also wanted to ensure they would be able to automate other areas, including variance analysis and recurring journal entries.
It was important to use a mature solution that had already been proven at other organizations, with similar or even greater levels of complexity and scale.
3. Leverage globally-sourced best practices, instead of bespoke development.
Dun & Bradstreet’s goal was to spend less time developing content and rules and more time on control and automation during the reconciliation process, and they wanted to see these results quickly. Central to achieving this approach was a broad array of pre-configured templates that eliminated the need to reinvent the wheel.
Instead of focusing on painstakingly designing and building a custom solution, they applied the rules and automation logic of pre-built reconciliation templates for an ideal (and faster) outcome.
4. Look beyond basic auto-certification.
Dun & Bradstreet wanted to spend less time manually reviewing and certifying reconciliations that could be automated. Basic reconciliation rules like zero balance and ledger matching still required a great deal of manual reconciliation work. An extensive range of auto-reconciliation rules and out of the box risk analysis tools were critical factors to complement their Oracle Financials application, and help the accounting team refocus on new value-added efforts.
5. Ensure currency and international management capabilities are flexible enough.
Global maturity was incredibly important to ensure consistent controls and calculations across Dun & Bradstreet's 70 operating entities worldwide. They needed one solution that could easily handle the complexity of multiple entities and different processes without complex customization. And they needed to translate currencies on the fly for rapid, accurate balance validation.
6. Aspire to be self-sufficient.
Dun & Bradstreet wanted to manage reconciliation automation themselves, so it was important for Finance to be self-sufficient to quickly bring in new accounts, establish and format profiles, and manage their auto-certification rules and settings.
7. Use the cloud to get value quickly.
Dun & Bradstreet chose the BlackLine cloud platform for their finance automation initiatives. This provided deep integration with Oracle, such as automated journal entries, along with native cloud benefits like anywhere global access, business user control, automated updates, maturity, and no compromises in functionality, security, or uptime.
Success at Dun & Bradstreet With BlackLine & Oracle Financials
By implementing BlackLine, integrating BlackLine's solutions with Oracle Financials, and using this to trim manual processes, Dun & Bradstreet unlocked significant value from their organization.
At the top of the list is eliminating non-value adding work. “If you ask my team now, they will tell you stories of how automation has saved them time and eliminated non-value work,” says Sikora.
Their teams quickly centralized key functions. With BlackLine and the ability to collaborate and centralize using the cloud, Sikora and her team have been able to support the centralization—and globalization—of critical functions. Staff and auditors can now access information and perform tasks from anywhere in the world, at any time.
Integrating BlackLine with Oracle has also increased transparency, visibility, and accuracy during the close process. Previously, the organization lacked visibility into the status of key financial operations, making it difficult to find and correct discrepancies earlier in the close.
“We now have a tool that provides transparencies and insight 24/7, globally, from the preparer standpoint up to the corporate controller. I can sleep at night now,” notes Sikora.
Read this white paper to learn more about why companies running Oracle close with BlackLine.