Established in 2008, Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN) is a global leader in local commerce. By leveraging both the company’s global relationships and its scale, Groupon benefits small business owners and consumers: consumers gain access to deals all over the world, while local merchants increase business opportunities and revenue. The company went public in 2011.
For Groupon, going from a one-city operation to a company operating in 40 countries in a mere seven years caused significant challenges around visibility and
accountability in the financial close process. “Due to our rapid growth, our global processes began to decentralize, and different regions began using different tools,” said Joseph Albrecht, financial systems manager, at Groupon. “In certain countries, the close process would fall behind schedule. Yet we didn’t have real visibility into who was behind. Additionally, as a public company, it was critical that we made it to a five-day close.”
Groupon’s reliance on Excel spreadsheets to manage reconciliations not only left the company vulnerable to human error, but also consumed three to four hours of valuable team member time each day. Accountants were stuck entering data and coordinating spreadsheets, leaving little time to identify discrepancies or focus on analysis. According to Albrecht, “We really needed to find ways to make our processes more efficient and completely centralize our reconciliation process.”
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