BlackLine Smart Close: RPA for Your SAP Close


The robotic process automation (RPA) revolution is gaining traction in both technological advancement and adoption, making RPA something that needs to be on every organization’s radar.

Over the last several years, RPA has grown from an innovation of the future to an achievable and necessary goal in a company’s finance transformation strategy. To stay competitive, finance leaders are embracing RPA to automate the highly repetitive, labor-intensive, and high-volume processes that span across transactional business.

However, to achieve RPA that truly spans from record to report, that RPA will need to work in sync with your ERP system.

BlackLine Smart Close embeds robotic process automation into record-to-report activities in SAP. Accounting professionals can manage the close and work directly inside the SAP environment itself, from capturing invoices and master data management to reporting and analytics.

Delivering Benefits Across the Organization

The benefits of robotic process automation can reach every corner of the Finance Department. From accountants to managers to the CFO, Smart Close delivers benefits across the board in Finance and Accounting.

Accounts Payable professionals can focus on value-added activities while eliminating errors, managers deliver higher-value business processes while accelerating their closing timelines, and CFOs can access real-time information anytime to provide forecasts and real-time intelligence to the C-Suite and help drive the business.

Analytics and reporting are critical for more efficient and effective work, not only to drive the business but also for internal improvements as that information grants organizations insights into how their processes are working. Smart Close goes beyond just providing analytics and reports by providing on-demand access to that information.

According to The Hackett Group’s Key Issues Study 2017, 71% of businesses have cost reduction as a top finance initiative for this year. Many of those businesses are turning to improving operational efficiency as a means to reduce cost.

Smart Close helps with this initiative by allowing businesses to evaluate efficiencies throughout the company by accessing information such as the status of invoices and how long an invoice takes to process, and it is able to measure invoice volumes in different periods across a Finance Department. With this information, it’s easy for a business to compare how different areas in the Finance Department are performing and eliminate process bottlenecks, which decreases costs while simultaneously leading to higher-quality work.

Scaling Service Centers

Robotic process automation is vital for Finance Departments and Shared Service Centers to reach their annual efficiency target. According to the SSON Global Report 2017, this is not a reduction in FTE but an expanding work scope to absorb work without adding headcount.

The same report found that most SSCs believe process automation will be a core capability that enables automation to absorb the majority of processing, allowing accountants to focus on value adding activities.

Empowering Accountants

RPA is not meant to replace people, but to help them. Smart Close enables people to be more efficient and effective in three simple but essential ways: through automating highly repetitive labor-intensive processes, by escalating exceptions to the right people, and by granting time and live data for analytics and reporting.

Because Smart Close automates R2R processes, not only does it reduce the number of potential errors, but it also permits people to focus on items that have been escalated or need approval.

Smart Close enhances human workers by removing the repetitive, mindless tasks, allowing them to focus on researching and following up on exceptions, not laboring to find them in the first place.

Smart Close enables accountants to work smarter, not harder–something that is desperately needed if Finance Departments are going to meet the demands of modern business.

Some projections for the future are estimating that productivity will double or even triple by 2020, making robotic process automation an essential part of a company’s finance transformation strategy–if they want to keep up.