BlackLine Blog

November 29, 2022

RSM's Key Takeaways from BeyondTheBlack 2022

Modern Accounting
3 Minute Read

BlackLine Magazine

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This post was written by RSM, a BlackLine Alliance Partner. From initial implementation through expansion and optimization, we have the skill and real-world experience to deliver the right BlackLine solution for your unique needs.

For the first time in three years, BlackLine’s annual user conference, BeyondTheBlack, was back in person allowing prospects, customers, and investors the opportunity to learn and network with BlackLine experts. BlackLine provided updates including a couple of new products, excitement over “focused products,” and customer success for existing customers.

Here are a few of the key takeaways from the event.

Platform Adoption

Many BlackLine customers continue to use the platform as a document repository and approval workflow as opposed to an automation solution. Whether it’s because modules are not optimized or modules are not currently being used, many customers are not getting the full value from the BlackLine platform.

While most companies acknowledge having a digital strategy in place, it may not be granular enough to take advantage of more advanced functionality their technology stack offers. It is important for customers to understand the capabilities of each solution in their technology stack and factor in time and costs needed to take full advantage of them, by either optimizing their current configuration or expanding into additional solutions.

Client Usage Roadmap

Having a post implementation roadmap is critical to future success with BlackLine or any other technology. Historically, on-prem solutions evolved very slowly; upgrades and new versions of technology were adopted at the pace of each individual customer. In today’s cloud environment, software vendors roll out new product releases multiple times a year, adding new functionality faster than ever and to all customers simultaneously.

To take advantage of product improvements, leverage new products, and ensure users are properly trained on new functionality, customers should have a plan in place to monitor, adopt, and train users on new solutions.

BlackLine Acquisitions

Over the past 3 years, BlackLine has acquired both accounts receivable (AR) and intercompany (I/C) solutions to extend platform capabilities. These focused products provide customers additional options for automating labor intensive and challenging processes. Adding these capabilities to the BlackLine platform creates a more holistic solution and fills a gap in an immature market for AR and I/C technologies.

BlackLine’s suite of AR products brings automation to one of the most technologically neglected areas of finance by combining logic-based rules and artificial intelligence to apply cash automatically, monitor credit and customer behavior, and automate collections processes. The suite uniquely meshes back-office finance efficiency with front-office customer service and sales insights to provide a holistic view of your accounts receivable and, at the end of the day, help you collect more money and improve working capital.

BlackLine’s re-vamped intercompany solution provides end-to-end intercompany processing for simplified management and compliance of:

  • Transfer pricing

  • Bi-lateral posting of intercompany transactions

  • Reconciliation of intercompany accounts

  • Bi-lateral netting and settling (through a separate treasury management solution) reducing bank fees

  • Reconciliation of payments between trading partners

While the I/C process is complex, the solution is robust and has been dissected into components to allow for quicker time to value and reduced implementation costs.

Product Development & Investments

BlackLine continues to invest in product development introducing two new solutions: Accounting Studio and Financial Reporting Analytics.

The Accounting Studio is a new twist on the task management module providing a centralized hub for managing accounting and finance processes beyond simple checklists. In addition to tracking traditional close tasks, accounting and finance processes from other systems can be integrated into a single tool with built-in automation triggering execution wherever possible.

The Financial Reporting Analytics solution allows customers to load the account mapping needed to create and report basic financial statements from the system. In addition to the financial reporting capabilities, the solution replaces the legacy Variance Analysis product allowing customers to perform flux analysis at the financial statement caption level. These new solutions enhance existing products that were lacking certain capabilities while bringing added functionality that will be beneficial to customers.

Expertise Adds Significant Value to BlackLine Implementations

Customers who leveraged a partner to implement and/or optimize the platform have higher user adoption and have achieved significantly more automation. As our RSM staff members engaged in discussions with attendees, there was a clear difference in the acceptance, knowledge, and usage of the system when an outside expert was consulted.

Even during the procurement process, partners can provide unbiased analysis, answer questions, and share real world experiences. And while many of today’s cloud platforms provide an out-of-the-box configuration, every organization has different processes and business requirements that require an additional level of architecting to customize end-to-end solutions to achieve specific process automation.

Integration Design

Integrations continue to be top of mind for BlackLine and their customers and are critical for companies to achieve their automation goals. As companies’ technology strategies continue to evolve, the ever-expanding list of technology projects has created a queue with IT departments that can be months, if not years, long.

BlackLine continues to develop new ERP connectors to simplify the integration between platforms providing customers a valuable option to ease the burden on their IT teams.

But while ERP Connectors provide a quick fix, it may not be the optimal approach long term as technology stacks become more voluminous and complex. Although an enterprise data and integration strategy can be a large project up front, it provides a significantly better structure for integrating technologies and data, leveraging a middle-layer as opposed to a variety of ERP connectors. Customers should consult with their IT teams or third-party experts during the scoping and solution design.  

Working with RSM & BlackLine

If you would like to discuss any of the points above or have any questions regarding BlackLine’s close automation solutions, please reach out to RSM by visiting:

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