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Cleaning Up, Standardizing & Automating the Close

Known by consumers as the “company with the blue pallets,” Brambles helps organizations in more than 60 countries move goods across the world. The company is listed on the Australian stock exchange (ADD) and has 11,000 employees.

The Challenge

Brambles’ finance organization operates in 60 countries. However, prior to 2016, global and local teams relied on different reconciliation tools. This siloed approach left the finance organization without adequate visibility into more than 8,000 reconciliations across 123 entities.

“The tools we were using were not conducive to best practices,” says Debbie Rosser, senior manager, R2R, at Brambles. “We could see the status of reconciliations in the Genpact tool, Quester, but we had no insight into reconciliations prepared by local finance teams. We had to trust that they were preparing them, as we had no direct access. Reconciliations were also stored in many different places.”

Close task management and journal entries also created ongoing challenges.

“Journals were managed independently by all countries and regions. We had a standard policy, but it was difficult to know if people were following it, as we had little visibility,” says Rosser. “And while the previous Genpact tool had the capability to track tasks, the primary focus was key performance indicators, not a holistic—and very necessary—view of the close.”

Why BlackLine

“Genpact is one of our trusted partners, and they recommended BlackLine. We discovered that BlackLine would not only give us complete visibility but help us standardize reconciliations, tasks, and journal entries across entities.”

Brambles implemented BlackLine Account Reconciliations, Task Management, and Journal Entry. “If you are a global organization like us, you have to get your regional or local leaders on board first. Our regional leaders saw what a difference BlackLine would make. They then drove local implementations and compliance,” says Rosser.

Today, Brambles has more than 244 BlackLine users across the world, within 123 entities in 60 countries. Rosser frequently recommends BlackLine to global organizations that need insight and visibility into siloed finance operations.

“Our journey with BlackLine has helped us clean up, standardize, and automate our close process. For organizations that have operations all around the world like we do, BlackLine is a great platform to help reduce risk and increase visibility.”

The Results

Increased visibility and collaboration across teams. Previously, Rosser and her team had to chase down teams to get updates on reconciliations. “Now we can see all the data ourselves in BlackLine,” says Rosser.

“We have more visibility, not only with the recs but with the journals. We have a better understanding of and insight into what has happened with the numbers during the month.”

Increased visibility has also improved the finance organization’s agility.

“Because we can see more of what is occurring during the close, we are finding additional ways to help the organization work more effectively and efficiently,” says Rosser. “BlackLine is helping us be more agile as a finance organization.”

Ensured reconciliations are completed on time. In the past, local teams struggled to complete reconciliations on time.

“Before BlackLine, teams would have to pick and choose which reconciliations to finish. Certain reconciliations simply would not get done,” says Rosser. “With BlackLine, teams can now finish all the required reconciliations, every month, on time.”

Increased confidence and reduced risk. Rosser and her team also no longer have to hope that reconciliations are finished.

“We know when they are done because we see it in BlackLine. There is no more guessing. And if certain recs are not done, we can easily find out why and identify roadblocks. This definitely gives us more confidence from a controllership perspective.”

Streamlined task management. Prior to BlackLine, tasks were tracked via spreadsheets. “It was very frustrating. If one person had the tracking sheet open, no one else could work on it,” says Rosser.

“We now have more than 2,000 tasks in BlackLine Task Management. We have immediate visibility into where we are in the close at any time. And Genpact has been able to use Task Management, as well, to track their metrics,” she adds.

While Task Management was initially used only at the head office, according to Rosser, other teams now want in on the action.

“Our local and United States’ teams are excited to put their tasks in BlackLine. They have seen the value in having all the tasks in one place. And once everyone has Task Management, we can start really looking at efficiencies and identifying areas that aren’t yet standardized.”

Standardized journal entries and approvals. In the past, Rosser and her team didn’t know the exact number of journals that were posted across the globe on a monthly basis.

“With BlackLine, we now know that there are 5,000 journals posted every month. We know who is posting them and why. We can finally start addressing why there is such a high volume of entries and find ways to reduce inefficiency.”