Turning to the Cloud
Once Dow decided to automate its account reconciliation processes, it created a top 10 list of requirements for an automation tool. Chief among them were speed to implementation, ease of use, and compatibility with Dow’s existing policies, such as its preparation and certification timelines for key accounts. Another requirement was compatibility with both SAP R/2 and SAP ERP, as Dow’s intent was to automate reconciliations for its various businesses and operating divisions irrespective of where each division stood in its SAP ERP upgrade.
After demoing account reconciliation software from several vendors, Dow decided to implement the SAP-endorsed software-as-a-service (SaaS)-based Financial Close Suite for SAP Solutions from SAP gold partner BlackLine. (For more details about the BlackLine solution, refer to the sidebar at the end of the article.)
Any concerns over cloud security were mitigated quickly when BlackLine demonstrated its encryption procedures and overall data security measures for safe off-premise data storage. “Our IT people were involved very early on with a very extensive review of those security measures and came away satisfied,” Withrow says. “The way BlackLine rolls out new versions and addresses potential security breaches became clear selling points.”
The software’s auto-certification functionality in the Account Reconciliations module was appealing to Dow because it offered an out-of-the-box configuration similar to the rule sets and policies the business already had in place for many of its key accounts, albeit in a manual checklist. This meant that Dow could quickly automate its key accounts without having to spend a lot of time setting up new auto-certification rule sets.
“The fact that we didn’t have to make any process changes was one of the key efficiencies,” Withrow says. “Having well-defined policies in place, with rules already established for four different buckets of accounts, meant that when we rolled out BlackLine, we didn’t have to put in a more structured policy framework.”