Australia Post has come a long way from delivering mail by pack horse in 1809.
The government-owned corporation has embraced innovation throughout its long history. It started with the telegraph in the late 1800s and has evolved to today’s use of more than 1,000 eco-friendly electric delivery vehicles—the largest fleet in the country.
That spirit of innovation extends throughout the entire business, including Accounting and Finance. The company manages over $6.8 billion in annual revenue across diverse lines of business that include delivery, ecommerce, logistics, direct marketing, and financial services, such as bill payments and insurance.
Australia Post employs over 35,000 people, delivers three billion items a year, and runs more than 4,350 post offices. With multiple subsidiaries, the scale and complexity of the organization’s financial management requires efficient automation. This automation minimizes manual work, strengthens controls, and heightens visibility.
“Our strategy in Accounting is to have the best technology embedded in our culture to strive for efficiency gains and process improvements, and to think outside the box for innovations,” says Catherine Phan, Australia Post’s Senior Manager, General Accounting. “BlackLine enables us to deliver that strategy.”
“Coming from a public accounting background, I know how important it is to drive improvement in accuracy and efficiency,” says Willardson. “Yet, we were still doing so many things manually, including reconciling hundreds of bank accounts. Our close took 15 days and still required significant overtime from staff.”
Since 2014, Australia Post has scaled its use of BlackLine Account Reconciliations and Transaction Matching. The goal is to streamline the reconciliation process, which has been slow and onerous.
“Before BlackLine, we had little visibility and control across the group,” Phan says. “In Excel, the whole process is labor intensive and time consuming, with a lack of control.”
Australia Post began its BlackLine journey with Account Reconciliations to automate and standardize its reconciliations, with an iterative rollout across four subsidiaries. Today, BlackLine enables Australia Post to automate roughly 750 account reconciliations a month—dramatically reducing manual work and contributing to a remarkably fast two-day month-end close.
For example, Australia Post uses BlackLine to automatically generate daily reports that highlight accounts in need of closer investigation. “BlackLine offers a lot more control and visibility for account reconciliations, without having a person pulling information from team members and putting together a report,” Phan says.
“We will continue to explore the Variance Analysis function in BlackLine to provide real-time updates and meaningful balance sheet reporting to management.”
In step with Under Armour’s mission of relentlessly pursuing innovation, over the last two years the company has acquired several new mobile app businesses and aptly named this market “Connected Fitness.” For Boyle, these businesses — MapMyFitness (acquired in December 2013), MyFitnessPal and Endomondo (brought on in the first quarter of 2015), and Under Armour’s own app, UA Record — represent not only a new reportable segment, but also three new company codes that operate on completely different non-SAP ERP systems and need to be incorporated into the company’s monthly close process. Using BlackLine, the company has been able to gain visibility into account balances and important information regarding the newly acquired entities. “BlackLine has been really useful in terms of gaining quick visibility into the ending balances in each of the accounts, giving our leadership a chance to review transactional details and key account balances without having full integration of those other ERP systems,” says Boyle. “That will continue to evolve as we go forward.”
Goals: Adopt a less manual and more scalable approach to monthly account reconciliations and book closing processes, as well as journal-entry retention, support, and review
Strategy: Implemented a scalable, automated, cloud-based solution for account reconciliations, journal entry, and financial tasks that integrates with SAP ERP and delivers push-button reporting and real-time access to data
Outcome: Shaved days of work off the desks of Under Armour’s accounting employees, who are now able to spend more of their time analyzing balances, reviewing results, and ensuring relevance and accuracy, rather than monitoring completeness and executing administrative tasks