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Freeing Accountants from Manual Close Work & Preparing for Growth
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THE CHALLENGE

For the past few years, SHL has been on a journey to optimize both processes and people. A key part of that journey involved transforming manual accounting processes. Prior to November 2021, SHL relied on spreadsheets to manage the month-end close.

“We have 87 bank accounts that need reconciling. But we were doing these very manually, with little control over the top. It was also difficult to track our close progress,” says Paul Greensmith, Chief Financial Officer at SHL. “Excel is good for looking at the past—but bad for looking at the future.

We knew we needed to move away from that as rapidly as we could, both to increase controls and to make people’s lives easier.”

The reliance on spreadsheets also hampered SHL’s growth plans. “We want to grow this business by another 50%. But manual processes aren’t scalable,” says Greensmith. “You can’t just simply push more through the system as you expand.”

WHY BLACKLINE

Greensmith and his team created a business case for finance transformation. “Leadership wanted better insight, better planning, and more operational leverage. The case I made was that for a small investment in better technology, we could achieve those goals and more.”

During the search for a new solution, Greensmith kept data front of mind. “My question was, ‘How can we use our data better?’ And that led me to look at what other finance teams in other companies were using.”

Greensmith then engaged SHL’s finance transformation team to do an initial review of vendors. BlackLine stood out from the beginning. “BlackLine offered workflow management, a reconciliation tool, and close tools that were very modern. I got very excited about the idea of using BlackLine to free people up to have more meaningful and interesting jobs, instead of having to spend all their time manually processing accounts.”

BlackLine’s commitment to partnership was a key factor in SHL’s decision to implement three BlackLine solutions: Account Reconciliations, Task Management, and Transaction Matching.

“What I look for in vendors is not someone who can sell me a bit of software that does something, but a partner,” says Greensmith. “BlackLine worked to understand our journey. They took time to understand what we were trying to achieve.”

THE RESULTS

Enabled staff to do more strategic, analytical work. SHL’s spreadsheet-driven close process meant staff had little time for extended analysis or strategy-focused activity.

“Our teams are really enthusiastic about BlackLine. They can see how much easier it is, how it reduces tedious manual work. And they like getting to use their intelligence and knowledge to solve problems, as opposed to just performing tasks,” says Greensmith. “They have more time to think harder about exceptions and spot problems, rather than just focusing on getting the reconciliation done. They’re doing more higher-level work.”

BlackLine supports SHL’s plan to engage accounting talent and optimize the workforce. “People always want new challenges. So, how do I create meaningful career structures? How do I anticipate that someone's tapped out? If they're a young, hungry person, how do I keep them engaged? We give them more meaningful, interesting work.”
Automated manual work and strengthened controls. For SHL, BlackLine automates much of the previously manual activity of the close, including transaction matching.

“BlackLine has made our lives easier. We’re automating all that tedious work,” says Greensmith. “We have stronger controls, which helps us manage risk and compliance along the way. And there’s greater confidence in our data.”

Prepared SHL for the future and enabled growth. Implementing BlackLine was a key part of SHL’s journey to optimize both process and people. “Moving from a manual close process to BlackLine was about modernization,” says Greensmith. “We’ve prepared SHL for the next ten years.”

INDUSTRY

Corporate Services

ERP

Infor

REGION

Global

COMPANY SIZE

Midsize

BUSINESS IMPACT
  • Enabled staff to do more strategic, analytical work

  • Automated manual work and strengthened controls

  • Prepared SHL for the future and enabled growth

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