BlackLine Blog

March 14, 2023

The Universal Journal & Journal Entry Functionality in SAP Financial Close Solutions by BlackLine Explained

Modern Accounting
3 Minute Read

Molly Boyle


Elizabeth Milne

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This article originally appeared on SAP's blog and is Part 4 of this blog series. Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

In a previous blog we talked about the benefits of the Universal Journal—the architecture of SAP S/4HANA. In that post, we focused on how the Universal Journal eliminates intra-ERP reconciliations that were previously needed in legacy SAP environments like SAP ECC. Let’s expand on that discussion and address the Universal Journal as it relates to journal entry management. Specifically, let’s break down what this means for the journal entry functionality offered by SAP Financial Close Solutions by BlackLine.

Isn’t It Ironic? The Universal Journal Doesn’t Prepare Journal Entries

While SAP S/4HANA comes with capabilities for journal entries, many wonder what value SAP Financial Close Solutions by BlackLine add to an SAP ERP?

As discussed in our earlier blog post, the Universal Journal is a simplification of the table structure within SAP’s ERP system. Now, rather than multiple tables that need to be reconciled to one another, SAP S/4HANA delivers one Universal Journal that stores all your data.

While the benefits of the simplified design are immense, the Universal Journal itself does not prepare or process transactions prior to posting. Further, it doesn’t eliminate the need to record, support, and approve manual journal entries.

Technology Can Only Automate So Much

It would be wonderful if SAP S/4HANA could automate everything. But the concept of a truly touchless financial close is not likely to ever exist. New technologies like predictive analytics and machine learning can transform the way finance and accounting teams work. And certain journal entries can be automated by the SAP ERP. But complexities of accrual-based accounting require accounting professionals to make manual journal entries.

Among complexities, the nature of accrual-based accounting—a core principle of US GAAP, IFRS, and other accounting standards—necessitates companies to recognize revenues and expenses when they’re earned to derive a true and fair picture of the financial statements. Even the most sophisticated ERP is not capable of capturing all business transactions properly without needing adjustments for compliance and reporting.

Making the Most of Your Manual Entries

When journal entries are needed, organizations running SAP have several options for managing the process. Journal entries can be posted directly in SAP, and SAP offers a standard workflow for manual journal entries. SAP ECC customers have Park and Post functionality with workflow routing to approvers and adding supporting documents. In SAP S/4HANA, customers have additional functionality such as upload from spreadsheet and the ability to verify Journal Entries with workflow.

The question, then, is “what do SAP Financial Close Solutions by BlackLine bring to the table and why would I need an additional solution if I can post journals in SAP, and I already have SAP S/4HANA?”

The answer is SAP Financial Close Solutions by BlackLine brings extended functionality to the SAP ERP by adding automation opportunities, business-managed intelligent workflow, a complete audit trail, and integration with related month-end processes like balance sheet substantiation.

Like ending balances, journal entries are often a focus area for auditors. Document type and other fields within SAP are useful for narrowing down the population of journal entries. However, SAP Financial Close Solutions by BlackLine can easily isolate the full population of manual entries with related substantiation and approvals built-in, which adds value and simplifies the audit process.

Standardization Across Multiple ERPs

Another benefit to having the journal entry functionality is SAP Financial Close Solutions by BlackLine is process standardization. Many organizations don’t yet have the luxury of a single instance of SAP S/4HANA. This means journal entries are likely posted in many disparate source systems. The processes and controls around preparation, review, and substantiation are difficult to standardize in a heterogeneous environment. SAP Financial Close Solutions by BlackLine makes it easy by allowing all manual journal entries to originate in a cloud platform.

Journal entry fields for each ERP are built into the solution and approved, then substantiated entries are posted directly to the local systems through secure connectors. Real-time feedback and validation are also available, and as the ERP landscape evolves, updates can be made quickly in SAP Financial Close Solutions by BlackLine with little to no IT time needed.

An End-to-End Solution

With SAP S/4HANA, companies get a world-class ERP platform and an opportunity to simplify finance master data with the Universal Journal. With SAP Financial Close Automation Solutions by BlackLine, customers get an additional opportunity to improve the accounting processes performed outside of the ERP.

Get your copy of this IDC Business Value White Paper to learn more about the value and benefits of SAP Account Substantiation and Automation by BlackLine.

About the Authors


Molly Boyle


Elizabeth Milne