Spending More Time Analyzing Balances and Reviewing Results

Pluralsight is an online learning company focused on professional technology training for individuals and enterprises across the globe. This training encompasses three technology pillars: software development, IT infrastructure and creative skills. With more than 4,500 courses, Pluralsight provides an ever growing online training library authored by industry experts. Through an easily affordable subscription-based model, Pluralsight offers high-quality, relevant and timely training, serving as a skills catalyst to nearly 3 million users worldwide.

The Challenge

After a humble beginning in 2004 delivering classroom training to software developers, Pluralsight added online training in 2008, and saw its growth explode. By 2010, the company fully transitioned to an online learning model, and in 2012 it raised 27.5M in Series A funding. In 2014, the company raised an additional $135M in Series B funding to further expand its platform and course library.

The growth and expansion of the business over the last several years also highlighted the need for an automated solution that could enable growth and streamline operations. Pluralsight had recently switched from QuickBooks to NetSuite to streamline crucial finance operations, yet their financial reconciliation process was still cumbersome and highly manual. They also wanted better visibility and control over its end-of-month reconciliation process.

According to Mark Hansen, director of finance and accounting at Pluralsight, “Each staff member was responsible for 10-30 reconciliations. These were all performed in a single Excel workbook. Once the workbook was finished, it was saved to Dropbox and the reviewer was notified. It was a very manual process, and there was no visibility. Any time new journal entries were booked, the reconciliations had to be revisited. Approvers had to wait for a workbook to be finished before they could review it. If there were changes or errors, individuals had to go back and update entire book of reconciliations.”

The existing process also put any future internal controls compliance at risk. “The nature of Excel is that data can be changed at any time. We couldn’t lock the folders, so there was always the possibility of something being altered after the accounting period had been closed.”


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Business Impact

Simplified SOX compliance and documentation, reduced time spent on the close by a few days, enabled faster—and concurrent—reviews of reconciliations, increased visibility into the close process, enabled real-time transparency for both the company and stakeholders.

More Growth in the Playbook

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.”

The Results

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