December 28, 2020

SAP Customer Insights From BeyondTheBlack

BeyondTheBlack presented an ideal opportunity for the BlackLine community to showcase customer successes and gain insights from their learnings.

The SAP Track at BeyondTheBlack featured presentations by SAP, BlackLine, and partners like EY and Deloitte, and brought together more than ten of the companies’ most successful new and long-time customers. These customers shared how BlackLine solutions complement their SAP landscapes by adding functionality from Account Reconciliations to Intercompany Governance.

Here’s what some of the BlackLine/SAP customers shared during the SAP Track at this year’s virtual modern accounting event.

Better Together: BlackLine & SAP

The opening session of the SAP track included a panel of customers sharing their transformation journeys and key benefits of automation.

Jonna Denton, Global Process Owner, Accounting-to-Reporting, Kimberly-Clark

Kimberly-Clark is a long-time customer of BlackLine. Recently, the company has been focused on getting more out of its BlackLine solutions by increasing automation.

“We went back and started optimizing our reconciliation module,” says Denton. “We went from 22% auto certification to more than 60% now. Once we started digging around in BlackLine, we started seeing other modules. We’re now using Variance Analysis and moving into Automated Journals.

“We have enhanced control and compliance, and we now work tightly with internal control teams. The more automation we use, the more time we have to focus on high-risk items.”

Karlene Crooks, Senior IT Manager, Johnson & Johnson

“We wanted to improve the work-life experience of our employees,” Crooks says. “The more we could automate the financial close, the more time accountants could spend with their families. We identified end user pain points and then created a single-entry point with BlackLine.

“As far as the Intercompany Hub, we’re now using automatic workflow notifications, and we’ll get a lot of efficiency around audit—we’ll get SOX compliance benefits, too.”

Donna Wargo, Senior Director Finance, Transformation & Global Business Services, Waters Corporation

Waters, the newest customer in the Better Together session, went live with BlackLine in October 2020 and completed most of their automation project remotely. “We were moving toward a more modern accounting system. BlackLine would help us get ready for our S4/HANA system.”

When the pandemic hit, “BlackLine helped us move to a full digital process and gave us the opportunity to collaborate across all our entities. It would have been a lot more difficult—especially for audit—because we have distributed documents all around the globe.”

How BlackLine Enables a Successful Move to SAP S/4HANA

BlackLine helps SAP customers make the transition to S4/HANA in several ways. For one, BlackLine helps companies map legacy ERP finance data to their new SAP S/4HANA environment, giving them consistent experience and allowing them to maintain confidence and control.

Margie Bolton, Senior Manager, Global Finance, Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson uses several BlackLine solutions, including Account Reconciliations, Journal Entry, Task Management, and Intercompany Hub. The company is taking an SAP Central Finance approach to their SAP S/4HANA journey.

“When we went through the journals journey and saw the ERP mapping up into BlackLine, [we realized] we could do the same kind of thing with SAP S/4HANA,” says Bolton. “With many of our SAP systems coming up through S/4HANA, it’s like a window for us to be able to look down into those systems.”

Douglas Tramp, AVP & Director of Finance Systems/Operational Change, Zurich North America

Zurich North America sought to get the most out of BlackLine in its transition to SAP S/4HANA and adoption of IFRS17. Tramp says, “one concern was how to keep the integrity of the reconciliations from the old environment to the new. Going from the classic to a multi-ledger environment and managing across four different accounting principles, we were looking at a 160% increase in reconciliations:

“With the help of BlackLine and a consulting firm, we absorbed that increase with no additions to staff.”

Michael Hubbard, Manager, Finance innovation &Transformation, The Home Depot

In an 18-month timeframe, Home Depot implemented BlackLine Account Reconciliations, Task Management, Transaction Matching, Automated Journals, and Variance Analysis. The company then went through its SAP S/4HANA journey while working from home.

“There were a lot of benefits to having BlackLine before we began this journey from home, and a lot that BlackLine gave us as we moved to S/4HANA,” Hubbard says.

SAP Open Item Clearing Automation

Open items can add risk and manual effort to finance processes, and slow the cutover to SAP S/4HANA. The final SAP Track session, focused on open item clearing automation, gave customers a chance to talk about the BlackLine solutions that use the power of Transaction Matching and the SAP Connector.

David Stormo, Automation Solutions Lead, Intel

“Before Transaction Matching, we had a fairly large number of our shared service center members doing an old-school, manual tick and tie,” says Stormo. “By setting up rules progressively throughout the implementation, we’ve achieved a match rate between 85 and 90%… a significant time savings, allowing our team to focus more on analysis than mundane manual processes.

“We’ve also found great benefits in automating over 100 journal entry processes. We’ve saved time and reduced possible manual errors, and made the control environment more robust.”

Helen Ingram, Finance Project Consultant, Asahi International

According to Ingram, before bringing in BlackLine, “Several people in the finance shared service center were spending several days a month, each going through their own process of clearing open items.”

Asahi brought in BlackLine, and now uses Transaction Matching to clear open items. “The matching engine is so powerful. It can do many to many transaction matches and many to one. We use it for cash accounts, and for all the vendor accounts for credit cards that are held for employee corporate cards… and for intercompany balance as well.”

Read our BeyondTheBlack issue of BlackLine Quarterly for more stories like this. We dive into some of the highlights from our annual event, including our inspiring keynotes, the SAP track, and stories about these sessions:

  • Leading with Resilience & Agility: Make the Move to Modern Accounting
  • A Better Way to Unify & Reconcile Data
  • Eliminating Spreadsheet Gymnastics in Your Payroll & T&E

BlackLine Magazine

Customer Success