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A Quest to Modernize Accounting Processes

Quest Diagnostics empowers people to take action to improve health outcomes. Derived from the world's largest database of clinical lab results, their diagnostic insights help identify and treat disease, inspire healthy behaviors, and improve health care management. Quest annually serves one in three adult Americans and half the physicians and hospitals in the United States and employs 46,000 employees.

The Challenge

Quest’s accounting teams were leveraging a combination of Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and paper-filing systems to fulfill its monthly financial close obligations. Employees had difficulty tracking the status of account reconciliations, a challenge which was compounded as the company made acquisitions and added general ledger accounts. Before closing the books each month, Quest’s employees would run a trial balance to identify areas that were not reconciled and needed more work. This process was both time and labor intensive and could not be supported as a permanent practice.

Additionally, Quest needed enhanced capabilities to incorporate new company acquisitions, and assemble data for its regular financial audits. The lack of a unified solution hindered both Quest’s employees and external auditors, leading to higher costs and wasted time. The company needed an accounting software that could standardize its financial processes and quickly integrate new acquisitions into its financial framework.

Why BlackLine

Quest Diagnostics began searching for a dedicated accounting solution in early 2014 and considered BlackLine, Trintech, and Oracle Financials Accounting Hub. Quest selected BlackLine for two primary reasons:

Functionality. BlackLine’s depth of functionality was superior to both Trintech and Oracle and enabled Quest to create tiered groups of accounts with varying levels of authority. Quest can clearly define the roles of its accountants within BlackLine and assign responsibilities based on geographic region and business unit.

Delivery. Quest had many robust accounting needs for its software, but the company wanted a solution that had a Software-as-a-Solution (SaaS) delivery model. BlackLine was the only accounting solution that offered a cloud-based SaaS model, ensuring greater flexibility and faster update cycles than its on-premises contemporaries.

Quest Diagnostics deployed BlackLine to streamline and modernize its accounting processes. The company realized time savings and increased productivity across all of its accounting teams as they transitioned away from methods using paper and Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. Nucleus Research found that BlackLine’s prebuilt workflows and user roles enabled Quest Diagnostics to process much larger amounts of financial data more quickly and with higher accuracy. Since implementing BlackLine, Quest Diagnostics has seamlessly carried out multiple company acquisitions without expanding its accounting staff.

The Results

Transitioning from a combination of paper and Microsoft Excel spreadsheets required a large amount of change management, but Quest Diagnostics was still able to realize significant benefits from BlackLine.

Key benefit areas included:

Increased user and team productivity. BlackLine’s functionalities have enabled Quest’s accountants to save time on matching and reconciling the hundreds of accounts in the company’s general ledger. Additionally, Quest’s accounting teams have integrated many acquisitions since deploying BlackLine without adding additional hires.

Increased organizational visibility. By consolidating all of its financial data into one tool, Quest can analyze the performance of the entire company instead of each individual business unit. Quest’s executives can track the status of each financial close and drill down into the underlying data to evaluate trends and anomalous data.

Culture change. BlackLine’s prebuilt workflows have enabled Quest to define clear roles for each of its accountants, allowing teams to specialize and collaborate on tasks as needed. The result has been a more productive and less stressful close process as Quest’s accountants can work continuously on tasks that support the company’s long-term objectives.

Ensured long-term self-sufficiency. Despite the change management required for replacing its old accounting processes, Quest Diagnostics was able to reduce costs and maximize their ROI from BlackLine by exclusively using internal resources to implement the solution. Quest’s upfront investments in configuring and understanding their implementation of BlackLine have equipped the company for long-term self-sufficiency. The company can customize the solution to adapt to changing business environments and efficiently onboard new accountants when they are hired.

Improved efficiency in the monthly close and in the integration of new acquisitions. Quest’s deployment of BlackLine also highlights the value of consolidating financial data and processes into a single tool. The company has fostered a more efficient environment with clearly defined roles for its employees, which has simplified both the monthly close and the integration of new acquisitions into the corporate framework. Quest’s accountants now complete a much larger volume of work each month because they fully understand their work and positions within the financial department.