To drive for efficiency and reduction in workload and stress in the controller organization, The Dow Chemical Company started the search for a cloud-based finance controls and automation platform that would enhance an already established process. Pat Withrow, accounting director with Dow, knew that although they had well-defined policies in place, Dow still needed a case for process change. “But making changes to the existing process was not going to give us the impact we needed,” said Withrow.
Even with a structured policy framework, still over 1,000 people were involved in the account reconciliation process each quarter in hundreds of legal entities, preparing approximately 250,000 reconciliations. The process was Excel based with no standardization. Withrow describes the previous process. “There was no central database and no standardization; electronic and paper copies were stored in locations all over the world, which made the review and approval process a significant burden.” Too much time was spent reconciling zero balance and low value accounts, and the need to free up resources for the SAP implementation, M&A activities, and other high value projects arose.
The journey to find a cloud-based account reconciliation tool that met certain top requirements began. Chief among them were speed to implementation, ease of use, and compatibility with Dow’s existing policies, such as its preparation and certification timelines for key accounts. Another requirement was compatibility with both SAP R/2 and SAP ERP, as Dow’s intent was to automate reconciliations for its various businesses and operating divisions. After extensive review of data and system security, Dow began to implement BlackLine in November 2012.
Dow’s aggressive global implementation approach included regions in North America, Europe, Latin America, Pacific and Intercompany paid off with immediate benefits. After partnering with BlackLine, now Dow has one platform, one repository for all accounts reconciliations globally and transparency of account reconciliation process like never before.
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