Centralizing the Close Process and Freeing Accountants to Manage High-Risk Accounts

As the leading airport shuttle service in the United States, SuperShuttle International, Inc. provides consumer transportation services to more than eight million passengers every year in 35 of the top 50 airports. The company also offers executive car services, taxi services, and bus services.

The Challenge

SuperShuttle manages more than 35 physical locations around the country. Each location operates with a local accounting group responsible for day-to-day transactions. According to Wade Pennington, corporate controller at SuperShuttle, “With as many operations as we have, our chart of accounts is fairly large. We have 3,000 balance sheet accounts that we reconcile, divided among 40 locations. Yet our reconciliation process was done using Excel files and emails. It wasn’t an efficient way to manage our operations.”

It wasn’t just the inefficiency and paperwork that prompted a change: SuperShuttle was also committed to improving the work environment of their accountants. “A lot of accountant time was spent working in Excel, printing out backups, attaching it all together, scanning it into one file, and saving it in a shared folder,” said Pennington. “In terms of the bottom line, we weren’t focused on reducing costs as much as we were trying to improve the quality of work for people. We wanted our team to have more time to spend on value-added activities like analysis.”

Why BlackLine

Pennington and his team knew they needed a platform that would not only automate their existing close process, but also deliver complete visibility. “We were looking for a solution that would allow us to see the completion status of our reconciliations at any given time, to make sure we were efficiently and effectively managing the entire reconciliation process.”

The team researched and tested several vendor solutions, selecting BlackLine’s Account Reconciliations and Task Management products. “BlackLine far and away seemed like the most robust solution in the market,” said Pennington. “It also was the one most commonly used with a lot of good references. We saw that large companies were implementing BlackLine and having success with it.”

SuperShuttle relied on BlackLine’s implementation specialists to facilitate an easy, timely rollout. “Our BlackLine implementation specialist did a good job of walking us through the set up process,” said Pennington. “He made it easy for us. He was informative and helpful along the way.”

To nurture user adoption, the team encouraged users to begin training through BlackLine U well before going live. According to Christy Weems, accounting manager at SuperShuttle, “Everyone was really receptive to taking on this new platform. They were able to get the support they need.” Added Pennington, “The product itself is pretty intuitive to use, and BlackLine provides good user training checklists and templates, as well as online learning courses through BlackLine U. It wasn’t a hard battle to win; once we showed them the product and how it worked, our staff saw the benefits pretty quickly. They saw the time it would save them each month.”

The Results

Eliminated manual tasks to free accountants to focus on analysis and risk mitigation. With BlackLine, Pennington and his team have accomplished their goal of improving the work environment for accountants. “Accounting can be a routine job, and we’re trying to increase the work quality for people. We want them to be able to spend less time on administrative tasks and compiling information, and more time analyzing accounts and trying to identify areas of exposure. With BlackLine, they have the opportunity to look into those sorts of things and minimize the risk in our accounts.”

Increased visibility. BlackLine has helped SuperShuttle centralize the close process, thereby enabling true transparency across all locations. “Having real-time visibility of completions is huge,” said Pennington. “I recommend BlackLine to any company that has a fairly robust chart of accounts, where there are a lot of balance sheet reconciliations and operations are decentralized. The real-time information that you get from it is invaluable. BlackLine is really our go-to platform.”

The increased visibility is also crucial to end-of-year audits. “We’re going to save a lot of time pulling reconciliations because all the information we need is right here,” said Weems. “BlackLine is going to make our end-of-year process much more efficient.”

Decreased time spent on both completing and reviewing reconciliations. BlackLine has helped the entire accounting team save time on reconciliations every month. “BlackLine has cut down the number of days we’ve spent on reconciliation,” said Pennington. “It’s also saving me time, as I can review reconciliations in a much faster manner.”

Reduced risk. With BlackLine, Pennington and his team can easily monitor the reconciliation status of high-risk accounts. “We can create dashboard reports where we can see reconciliation status of key accounts. We have a three-day close process, so we don’t have a lot of time to dig into certain accounts. With BlackLine, we can quickly make sure our balance sheet is accurate, which has been a really big help for our month-end close process.”