JAFRA Cosmetics International Logo Image | BlackLine Customer

Reducing the Time to Close & Freeing Staff for Higher-Level Analysis

The Challenge

Founded in 1956, JAFRA Cosmetics International has grown into one of the world's leading manufacturers of beauty products. With nearly $500 million in revenue and roughly 500,000 independent consultants across North America, Latin America, Europe, and Asia, JAFRA builds an inclusive community of entrepreneurs by sharing its best-in-class opportunity and high-quality beauty and fragrance products.

Despite Jafra’s success, its accounting processes had room for improvement. Finance leaders recognized that JAFRA's manual, spreadsheet-based processes were not sustainable amid steady growth and increasing complexity.

“Our process was very manual, and everything was in Excel,” says Naomi Czech, senior accounting manager at JAFRA. “Our month-end checklist was in Excel. And all of our reconciliations were in Excel.”

Manual administrative work, including tracking close tasks in spreadsheets, consumed 12 days every month. A lack of visibility necessitated physical check-ins with staff to confirm close progress. The monthly close would typically drag out to three weeks.

 “We never knew exactly where we stood,” says Nadia Doumler, senior accounting analyst at JAFRA. “If we needed an update, we would either have a meeting or send a whole bunch of emails back and forth. Sometimes Naomi [Czech] would have to actually walk around and ask people, ‘Are you guys done?’”

 A lack of standardization across team members also increased effort—and risk. “There were a lot of inconsistencies between different team members in how they reconciled accounts, what the reconciliations looked like, and what support was used” says Naomi.

Why BlackLine

When Nadia Doumler joined JAFRA, the company was already looking for a new close solution. Nadia had once worked at BlackLine, so leadership asked for her help in evaluating BlackLine’s Modern Accounting Playbook solution, as well as several other platforms.

“I scheduled presentations with three vendors. Everyone felt that BlackLine was the obvious solution," Nadia says. “Unlike other platforms, with BlackLine, everything is in one place. We would gain an audit trail. And BlackLine’s interface is intuitive and a lot more pleasing to the eye.”

BlackLine could also be easily rolled out across JAFRA’s three non-US markets. “Currently, we don’t have visibility on a monthly basis for entities outside the United States,” says Nadia Doumler. “We knew BlackLine could give us visibility across all of our entities.”

For Naomi Czech, the most significant factor was the availability of the account reconciliation template. “With other vendors, we would have still been heavily reliant on Excel. We wanted to move away from that. BlackLine was the only vendor that offered templates within the system itself.”

“Everything is in one place. We have an audit trail, something we didn’t have before. And the information is live, so we know when we’re done,” says Nadia Doumler. “Plus, when everything has been completed, the data is locked. We know that there won’t be any additional edits. Nobody can go in and make any changes.”

The ability to attach journal entries directly within BlackLine has also mitigated risk.

“Before BlackLine, each person had their own folder for journal entries. But with folders, you can go in and change things,” says Naomi Czech. “Not with BlackLine, because everything is locked in place. And because we use BlackLine’s account reconciliation templates, all our reconciliations are now standardized.”

Reduced administrative work and freed staff for higher-level analysis. By greatly reducing manual work and increasing visibility—and enabling a more modern and Continuous Accounting process—JAFRA’s accounting team can focus on higher-level analysis.

“Previously, we weren’t able to do a deep analysis of the numbers prior to uploading them. If something material came up after uploading, we’d have to take the time to go back and change it,” says Naomi Czech.

“With BlackLine, we’re done inputting all our journal entries at least a day before we actually have to upload. We use that extra day to review the numbers before we submit them. If there is something wrong, we're able to go back and fix it versus having to wait until the next period. That’s improved our accuracy and quality.”

 Increased confidence in data stored in SAP. BlackLine provides an additional layer of control and accuracy with data that lives in SAP.

 “With SAP, it’s our GL and it’s just a data dump. It doesn’t summarize information or enable us to really look at it in a clean view,” says Naomi Czech. “But BlackLine transforms that raw data into something that's useable for decision making. With BlackLine, we can actually see what’s in the account.” 

 JAFRA also expects that centralized information in BlackLine will streamline annual external audit, especially with third-party auditors granted read-only access to the system.

 Enabled remote work during the pandemic. Prior to BlackLine, Naomi Czech often checked in physically with her staff during the close—something that was later impossible during the pandemic.

 “I would have to walk around the office and ask if people were done. Now, I know if someone has signed off in BlackLine,” says Naomi Czech. “BlackLine has been a game changer, especially during the past year.”

 In a next step, JAFRA is exploring a phased global rollout of BlackLine across its non-U.S. markets, covering 15 countries. Those subsidiaries operate various ERP systems and rely on manual work to reconcile accounts and close the books, while the U.S. team has little visibility into underlying detail.

 Finally, the BlackLine’s partnership with SAP and the integrations available sealed the decision in favor of BlackLine’s solutions. “The relationship between SAP and BlackLine was important to us,” says Nadia Doumler. “We knew that if we wanted to take advantage of the SAP Connector for other implementations going forward, if we wanted to roll it out on a bigger scale, we’d have that option.”

The Results

BlackLine’s intuitive ease of use, along with training, got the JAFRA accounting team on the fast track to accounting modernization. Since going live, the company has automated what were onerous manual tasks while improving transparency and controls across the close cycle.

Shortened the close by 33%, from three weeks to two. Previously, JAFRA’s close required three weeks of intensive work. With BlackLine, the accounting team has shortened the close to two weeks. In addition, twelve days of administrative work have been reduced to seven.

“The ability to group accounts, as well as auto certify, has made a huge impact on our month-end close process for account reconciliations,” says Naomi Czech. “We’re auto-certifying 47 accounts, which is huge, because that’s half of our accounts that we don’t even have to look at.”

Increased visibility. Previously, JAFRA’s Excel-based close process provided the team with little to no real-time visibility. Today, with BlackLine, Nadia Doumler and Naomi Czech can easily track the progress of the close, streamline reviews, and reduce the time spent on previously manual tasks.

“The review process is a night and day difference. I’m saving about five hours, because I can easily identify if something's an age balance that needs to be looked at or if the references for something don’t make sense,” says Naomi Czech. “My review process has gone from a detailed review to just being able to quickly see when it's summarized correctly and say, ‘Okay, this looks good. This looks normal.’”

Visibility into workflow has also been a game changer. “With BlackLine, we can track improvements and bottlenecks. We can also identify who finished on day three versus who finished on day five,” says Naomi Czech. “That enables us to adjust workloads, such as moving tasks from one person to another, to close even faster. BlackLine is a really good tool for decision making.”

 Reduced risk. By centralizing the close process within BlackLine, instead of distributing it across multiple files and folders, JAFRA has reduced risk.

“Our markets have a lot of autonomy on how they do things, so we’d want to show them how BlackLine has benefited us,” Nadia Doumler explains. “Ideally we’d be able to standardize processes worldwide, drive efficiencies, and increase visibility.”