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Now Is the Time for Finance Transformation

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The healthier they are, the more likely today’s companies are aggressively pursuing a financial transformation track. And the best companies—many of which are BlackLine customers—are now looking for ways to accelerate the process as they emerge from market stagnation induced by the 2020 pandemic.

So says Michael Shultz, BlackLine’s director of strategic accounting. He adds, “Finance and Accounting have always been transforming, as they moved from paper to calculators, and from calculators to computers.”

For years, significant transformations were slow to take hold. Still, companies that were on the leading edge of each new transformation typically gained immense advantages over their competitors.

The same is true today, Shultz says, but the benefits are accelerated.

“Today’s cloud-based technologies give finance and accounting teams the ability to move rapidly through newer and better solutions, and those solutions generate immediate and significant results.”

Why Process Automation Is Transformative

For today’s businesses, the key transformative technology is cloud-based process automation, which boosts accountants’ productivity and agility by removing the constraints of time and space. Accounting teams and auditors can do their jobs from different locations, and at times that suit them best.

Process automation can be applied to performing reconciliations—for instance, reconciling a high volume of transactions—throughout the month, rather than having to wait until the month’s end.

“This is what we call Continuous Accounting,” Shultz says. “It’s the foundation for any transformation to modern accounting because it lets accountants find and fix problems as they happen. It relieves a lot of the pressure, time, and cost from the month-end close.”

Deloitte agrees, noting that real-time finance is a major hallmark of financial transformation.

“When both actuals and forecasts can be produced instantly on demand, traditional cycles become less relevant. The old distinction between operational and analytical data begins to disappear. Leading organizations will be operating with a new mantra: There is no close. It’s all happening in real-time.

“When information becomes instantly available to those who need it, traditional cycles become unnecessary. That frees people up to focus on discovering new insights and acting on them.”

The Path Is Personal. The Time Is Now.

Once Continuous Accounting is implemented, finance and accounting organizations are free to embark on the type of transformation that best suits them.

“Every company’s transformation journey is different,” says Shultz. “For some, it may be to replace manual processes with automated account reconciliations and task management.

“For those further along, it may be to add new automated processes, such as transaction matching or variance analysis, to their automation toolbox. For large, multi-entity businesses, it may be to bring in BlackLine’s Intercompany Hub.”

In all cases, what’s most important is that as business emerges from the lockdowns of 2020, companies expedite their transformation projects as much as possible. The reason, Shultz says, is that new markets are now opening, along with new opportunities for mergers and acquisitions. New competitive advantages will go to those with the most agile business models.

“Ultimately, agility is what finance transformation gives to organizations,” he says. “And agility is crucial as companies explore the possibilities in the new post-COVID world.”

Read this Digital Finance Transformation Playbook for the top industry trends, stats, benchmarks, and practical guidance you need to accelerate your modern finance journey.