This article originally appeared in SAPinsider. It's a 4-minute read.
For more than a century, The Timken Company has been keeping the world in motion with its growing portfolio of engineered bearings and power transmission products that help improve the reliability and efficiency of global industries.
Since the early 1900s, when steel manufacturing was its main focus, the business has grown steadily, with 18,000 employees currently operating in 42 countries and $3.8 billion in sales (in 2019). As a key part of its growth strategy, the company began a steady stream of acquisitions to bring on new lines of business. Timken has acquired 31 companies so far.
This continuous pursuit of growth and innovation is also reflected internally at the company, as the business has modernized its technology landscape to work smarter, more efficiently, and more profitably.
After its largest acquisition to date—of The Torrington Company in 2003—Timken decided to undertake a global implementation of SAP ERP, in part to support the integration of the companies. The rollout was completed in 2008, and it helped set the stage for the company’s following acquisitions, 12 of which were acquired between 2015 and 2020.
A Modern Accounting Journey
A couple of years after the SAP ERP rollout, Timken decided to further innovate in accounting and finance. The company implemented BlackLine solutions in the cloud to integrate with its SAP and non-SAP ERP systems and make life easier for its accounting, consolidation, and audit teams. According to Dan Welcheck, Jr., Principal - Global Finance Systems Group at Timken, these teams handle roughly 50 company codes in the global SAP instance, where about 80% of the organization’s sales are transacted.
When the company first started its journey with BlackLine solutions, it was looking for an automated system with tracking capabilities to eliminate the manual and redundant effort and create efficiencies.
“Previously, we used spreadsheets for the account reconciliations that would then get printed out and manually signed off, and someone would have a huge folder with tons of paper to file away,” Welcheck says. “Headquarters also didn’t have access to the reconciliations of the different business units, so we were looking for better visibility for corporate and increased trackability.”
Having manual processes in place, a lack of standardization across the company, and a robust acquisitions strategy meant it was not easy for accounting and finance to keep up and scale. Welcheck says that these challenges—coupled with the desire for innovation and aspirations around resiliency and efficient audits—made BlackLine solutions a good fit because BlackLine closely integrates with SAP software and handles non-SAP data.
An Agile Strategy to Support Acquisitions
Timken deployed the BlackLine functionality using the same phased approach it used to roll out SAP ERP across its global locations—in phases, starting with the global headquarters in North Canton, Ohio, and followed by Europe, Asia, Latin America, and so on.
As new businesses came on board, they were rolled onto the SAP and BlackLine technologies as needed. “We have a couple of non-SAP ledger systems that we have been loading into BlackLine that have not yet been converted to SAP ERP, but the majority of BlackLine rollouts were based on the SAP units,” Welcheck says. “We continue to work with the new units as they are acquired and with some of the other smaller units on one-off projects to roll out BlackLine functionality in the interim until they get onto SAP ERP.”
There are a lot of considerations around integrating new acquisitions as they come on board. For example, the audit team has its processes to complete and accounts to reconcile—and each unit has to come onto the consolidation system to ensure accurate financial forecasting and reporting, and integrate employee data into Timken’s SAP SuccessFactors solutions.
Having the right technology in place enables the most seamless transition possible. And Welcheck says that BlackLine solutions help provide confidence, visibility, and control for the record-to-report process.
Read Timken’s full success story to learn how their move to modern accounting is also delivering audit savings and helping their F&A teams close virtually with confidence.