“IT WAS OBVIOUS THAT WE NEEDED A TECHNOLOGY SOLUTION TO HELP US AUTOMATE MORE OF THE CLOSE.”
Consero Global provides outsourced accounting and finance services to more than 130 growing businesses. These services include balance sheet reconciliations for each client’s monthly close.
Prior to BlackLine, Consero’s teams performed reconciliations manually via hundreds of spreadsheets, a process at odds with the company’s move toward increased automation and delivery transformation.
“Teams were spending much of their time on reconciliations, something we do for every client,” says Kristen Bridgeman, senior director of product at Consero. “But the process was very error-prone and lacked transparency.”
“When a reconciliation is buried in a folder in a spreadsheet file, you really have no way of knowing if the work is current. Was the reconciliation completed on time? Was it completed accurately? You’re relying on your people to tell you if there’s a problem.”
The spreadsheet-driven process also failed to keep up with the company’s rapid growth. “We were running into scalability issues,” says Bridgeman.
“As we added more clients, we performed more balance sheet reconciliations. That required an increase in headcount. And with more people came the need for more office space and training. It was obvious that we needed a technology solution to help us automate more of the close.”
“BLACKLINE OFFERED BETTER AUTOMATION CAPABILITIES AND STRONGER CONTROLS. IT STOOD OUT AS THE CLEAR WINNER.”
Leadership researched several vendors prior to implementing BlackLine’s Account Reconciliations.
“The other platforms we looked at were outdated and would have been difficult to align with our business model,” says Bridgeman. “In contrast, BlackLine’s UI was very modern, which we knew would create a better user experience for our teams. BlackLine also offered better automation capabilities and stronger controls. It stood out as the clear winner.”
Consero migrated five to ten existing client accounts per month to BlackLine. “We aligned the migrations with our month-end close timelines,” says Vinay Mayya, senior manager at Consero.
“It went very smoothly. Much of the process was internal on our end, as most of our clients don’t need access to BlackLine. They are primarily growth-type entities without senior financial leadership in-house.”
However, Consero’s enterprise-level clients are given the opportunity to access BlackLine from a review standpoint.
“These are clients who have one or more senior financial leaders who work with our team. In those cases, we offer clients BlackLine user licenses to provide the client with visibility into the reconciliations and the dashboards,” adds Mayya. “Our clients rely on Consero to ensure reconciliations are completed accurately and on time, but this access gives their financial leaders comfort that they have the visibility to validate things or answer their own questions if they need to do that.”
Our partnership with BlackLine aligns very well with our objective to provide industry-leading functionality and automation to our clients who, otherwise, may not have the financial resources or expertise to support this type of technology in their organizations. The company brought in BlackLine to automate its transaction matching, account reconciliation, and task management processes in 2014. Since 2014, Zendesk’s paid customer accounts have jumped to 94,000 and annual revenues have grown past $300 million. BlackLine and the automated processes it offers have become even more valuable to monthly close processes and to Zendesk’s accounting group.
BLACKLINE OFFERED BETTER AUTOMATION CAPABILITIES AND STRONGER CONTROLS. IT STOOD OUT AS THE CLEAR WINNER.”
With BlackLine, we’ve eliminated the manual work required by spreadsheets, mundane tasks like rolling forward templates every month and copying and pasting the ending balance,” says Bridgeman. “That piece is completely automated.”
Auto certification of low-activity accounts has also saved time. “Before BlackLine, someone had to manually check balances on these accounts and plug them into a tab of a massive worksheet. Now we rely on BlackLine to auto-certify our low-activity accounts.”
Enabled transparency. Switching from spreadsheets to BlackLine has enabled complete transparency into reconciliations across all teams and clients.
“We can see the status of any reconciliation. We get notifications if a balance changes, so we know if reconciliation has been de-certified,” says Bridgeman. “You don’t have that kind of transparency with hundreds of spreadsheets.”
“That visibility is critical to us as a service provider,” adds Mayya. “We have to make sure we’re providing quality service and accurate results to our clients.”
Strengthened controls. Consero has also put stronger quality controls in place throughout the close process.
“If you’re using Excel, there’s a tendency to have manual human controls in place to reconcile and post entries,” says Mayya. “With BlackLine, accounts have to be reconciled correctly. If they’re not, the system will let you know. We can see what has been completed and what hasn’t. As a result, we’ve created stronger controls and increased the quality of our reconciliations.”
Bridgeman adds, “If the accuracy of your accounting information and maintaining strong controls are important to you—and they should be for everyone—you will benefit from having BlackLine. BlackLine provides controls and transparency that are big advantages for any business.”
Increased value of client services. By adding BlackLine to their technology stack, Consero gained a competitive edge during the sales cycle.
“We serve small-to-medium-sized clients very excited when they learn that BlackLine is part of our tech stack,” says Bridgeman. “With BlackLine, we’ve been able to further enhance the superior value we offer our clients when compared with a completely in-house finance and accounting function.”