“If you're wasting time doing what we were doing, don't keep wasting it. BlackLine has been a great solution for us. Everyone’s life has improved significantly. We save a lot of time. We have more controls in place. It’s been a win-win for everyone involved.”
In late 2019, the accounting team at Gossamer Bio took a closer look at their existing—and highly manual—close process.
“We were doing a lot of things on paper. We were preparing our reconciliations manually in spreadsheets, printing them, and getting them tied out and signed off. It was extra difficult because of the volume of work that we had,” says Jared Cairns, accounting manager at Gossamer Bio. “It really was the stereotypical horror story with staff working late, doing things that are necessary but that don’t add value.”
A complex business structure added to the challenges. Gossamer Bio is a very diverse company and is comprised of 18 assets. Each asset functions as an individual company with a unique set of books.
“We have 18 sets of books. Each company has its own bank account, its own expenses, its own intercompany accounts. So, for a company that's both diverse and growing, working on paper is just not going to cut it. It takes too much time,” says Cairns. “We have 350 accounts, and it took us ten days to close. Plus, there’s little oversight with a paper process. We had no way of telling if a balance changed after the fact.”
In early 2020, Cairns and his team found themselves working from home as a result of the pandemic. The existing paper close process became very difficult, if not impossible, to manage. “At that point, we realized we needed a new solution—and we needed it sooner rather than later.”
While the team reviewed several vendors, BlackLine was a clear favorite from the beginning. “We heard recommendations from our board of directors, our external auditors, and our team in Ireland. They all said that BlackLine would be the best product for us,” says Cairns.
“That was a strong vote of confidence from three different key stakeholders and sealed the deal. We also thought that the Account Reconciliations module was, hands down, the best we’ve ever seen.”
Gossamer implemented BlackLine’s Modern Accounting Playbook in a mere 90 days. “Implementation went very smoothly,” says Cairns. “Our implementation consultant was the real driving force. She helped us stay on track. And she and the rest of the team were able to do anything we asked. Everybody at BlackLine has gone above and beyond.”
Cairns frequently recommends BlackLine to organizations still struggling with a manual close process. “If you’re wasting time doing what we were doing, don’t keep wasting it. BlackLine has been a great solution for us. Everyone’s life has improved significantly. We save a lot of time. We have more controls in place. It’s been a win-win for everyone involved.”
Reduced close time to three days.
Previously, Gossamer navigated a long, 10-day close, a process that required frequent overtime. Within months of implementing BlackLine, the team has shortened that time by 35%.
“We reduced our close by three days. And BlackLine has saved our team 30 to 50 hours per month on manual work alone, including time spent going back and adjusting numbers,” says Cairns. “The bank reconciliation with matching has been incredibly useful, as has the BlackLine NetSuite connector. We save an unbelievable amount of time.”
The time savings has impressed one of Gossamer’s more experienced—and initially, highly reluctant— accountants.
“This accountant has been in payroll for 30 years and was the least excited about the move to BlackLine. Initially, she said that it was taking her more time. After a few trainings, she experienced firsthand how efficient the solution is. She now says, ‘This is saving me so much time. It’s so much better than it used to be.”
Freed staff for more strategic work.
The time savings has enabled staff to focus on more value-added activities. Even junior accountants now have the opportunity to do more meaningful work.
“In the past, our junior accountants would have been working on paper documents. But today, they’re being exposed to the SEC filing process, working through the actual 10-Q filing workbooks, speaking with auditors, and doing additional analysis,” says Cairns.
“We actually had some of our junior accountants present financial statements. In that respect, BlackLine has helped us create a more engaged, productive workforce.”
Strengthened controls and enabled consistency across 18 assets and 430+ accounts.
BlackLine helps ensure consistency across Gossamer’s complex business structure.
“We have a team in San Diego. We have a team in Ireland. And we have a few admins, as well. Now, we can use Account Reconciliations for all our bank accounts, our prepaids, and the whole balance sheet—in essence, a very complicated intercompany account,” says Cairns.
“We also have 60 individual accounts flowing into Task Management. All of that is very useful when you think of how we once had to use Excel spreadsheets to track everything.”
Reduced overtime and created work-life balance.
Prior to BlackLine, Gossamer Bio accountants often found themselves working late. Increased efficiency and accuracy with BlackLine have greatly reduced the need for overtime—and improved staff outlook.
“BlackLine has improved the quality of life for my team here at Gossamer, to an unbelievable degree. The tone has shifted. There’s no longer that deflated feeling when you realize you have to make a change to a number. That feeling has gone away,” says Cairns. “Instead, people are excited and more engaged. They know that adjustments are being caught automatically. And people are finally taking well-deserved time off.”
One of the primary challenges of a manual close process is a lack of visibility. With BlackLine, Cairns and his team now have real-time insight into every detail of the close.
In addition, highly customizable reports cater to the needs of individual stakeholders. “Our controller needed a specific report before he could sign off on the close checklist. We created one with the BlackLine team,” says Cairns. “Our controller could suddenly see, with this one report, that every single account was tied out and who approved each account at the time. He was ecstatic.”
BlackLine has transformed Gossamer’s audit process. Previously, auditors had to stay very late to navigate all the paperwork generated by Gossamer’s manual close process. “They told our audit committee that the numbers were super clean—and super easy to get through.” says Carins.