BlackLine Blog

April 30, 2024

Streamline & Automate Your SAP Financial Close with Fewer Resources

Modern Accounting
4 Minute Read

BlackLine Magazine

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If your finance and accounting (F&A) team relies on manual work to close the books, then you probably have, at one time or another, dared to imagine what seems like the impossible. That is, you’ve dreamed up a wish list of accounting process “what ifs,” such as:

  • What if we could automate processes directly in SAP (without having to contract with outside IT services) and save hundreds of hours per close?

  • What if our teams experienced greater work-life balance by avoiding the usual pre-close panic and instead performing fulfilling strategic tasks?

  • What if we could feel confident about the quality of our data and boost ROI so that we could scale our business with confidence?

Sounds like a dream, right?

Yet, as the market becomes more competitive and budgets tighten, F&A teams are being demanded to do more with less. This poses a big challenge: How can you gain control over activities performed by teams of accountants and finance analysts who input data that contributes to the close? And how can you maintain this control, even as the business scales?

But what if there was a solution that could enable a business to achieve everything on that wish list, including a significant increase in ROI?

Introducing BlackLine’s Smart Close.

What Is BlackLine Smart Close?

Smart Close is a purpose-built, automated solution designed with one key objective: to enable you to gain full control over your close while saving time and resources so you can truly do more with less.

Smart Close helps you achieve these goals by:

  • Streamlining, centralizing, standardizing, and automating processes.

  • Replacing manual processes so your close is performed effortlessly and efficiently.

  • Embedding dependencies and workflows directly in SAP while eliminating the need for third-party systems.

  • Customizing data processes and simplifying implementation.

  • Leveraging real-time, end-to-end visibility and data-driven insights to enhance the user experience and improve productivity.

  • Enabling SAP customers to achieve productivity gains time-equivalent to four to six FTEs, allowing teams to focus on value-added, strategic work.

  • Supporting future growth by easily integrating ERPS and other data sources.

 With these benefits, Smart Close is a must-have solution for businesses seeking to migrate to SAP S/4HANA. (See how large enterprises have seen improved business outcomes after moving to SAP S/4HANA by downloading this Smart Close data sheet).

Stretching Resources Farther

There are numerous ways that Smart Close allows your business to increase productivity—even as budgets tighten—so you’re in control of every close while saving on costs. In fact, organizations using Smart Close average up to 300% return on investment!

Let’s look at five ways that Smart Close can make this happen for your business.

#1 Leveraging Your Current Systems
Smart Close is a turnkey solution that can be implemented with the F&A, IT, and shared services teams you already have in place. So, there’s no need to budget for expanding personnel, adding training and onboarding, or hiring third-party vendors—and you’ll be able to access BlackLine’s top-tier support if it’s needed.

#2 Powerful End-to-End Automation and Visibility
Automating manual processes increases efficiency and minimizes touch and human errors, so data can be trusted from entry to close. You can experience data integrity—even for high-volume accounts and last-minute journal entries—thanks to Smart Close’s new orchestration layer that smooths out peak loads and automatically validates data.

This reduces the time spent assessing imbalances and sorting out disputes. Data processing is done right the first time, which is particularly beneficial for organizations moving to SAP S/4HANA. With complete visibility across processes, everyone has access to—and is working with—the same data flows. For example, finance leaders get results faster and have an easier time presenting data to investors and board members.

#3 Easy to Implement, Customize, and Use
Implementation of Smart Close is remarkably fast and driven by the business’ software configuration—a typical system can be up and running in just a few months. This is in marked contrast to legacy products that require significant IT personnel to implement.

You can customize Smart Close so that it integrates seamlessly with your processes, systems, and requirements. You can build on top of the initial automation and add visibility to SAP financial processes while Smart Close adjusts to new scenarios and apply new automations.

#4 Reduction in New Employee Onboarding Costs
The tremendous time savings generated by adopting Smart Close translates into an improved work-life balance for your teams. Staff get time back as they are no longer burdened with handling complex reports and queries and can shift their focus to more meaningful, strategic tasks. With improved job satisfaction, retaining talent becomes a lot easier and businesses save money they might normally spend on new hires.

#5 Broadened Scalability Opportunities
When teams get time back, they’re freed up to be able to look beyond immediate friction points and focus on what’s next for the organization. They can make intelligent decisions based on data-driven insights to help them reduce risk and make solid investments, such as adopting new technologies and expanding geographies. This adaptation leaves CFOs in a better position to assess the business’ capabilities and assets on a granular level, so they can better plan for growth opportunities with confidence.

The Amalgam Insights Report

BlackLine partnered with Amalgam Insights to learn more about how customers are using Smart Close and what benefits they're experiencing. The report reflected holistic value across multiple areas that are associated with seeing actual value, such as executive visibility, productivity, and work-life balances. The assessment involved four companies, each of which had at least 10,000 employees. It was determined that all were using SAP and were having issues trying to navigate complexities associated with their close.

A Shift Toward Doing More with Less

Businesses know where they’d like to be. They know they already have valuable resources they can leverage, such as internal knowledge, F&A, and IT teams. What’s been missing for many organizations is a solution that helps them harmonize these resources, automate processes, and manage close operations directly in SAP—all while keeping within budget. With Smart Close, teams save time and manage by exception, and finance leaders feel in control of operations and confident in their strategic decision-making.

Want to dig in further and learn how your business can benefit from automating your close in SAP?

Watch our on-demand webinar discussing a recent business value assessment of BlackLine Smart Close

Watch now

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