If you’re involved in farming in Australia, the chances are you’ve dealt with Ruralco. The listed agribusiness group has some 40 different specialist operations covering everything from merchandise, fertilizer and livestock to real estate and financial services. The company has approximately 1900 employees and more than 500 retail outlets across the country. Key brands include CRT, Rodwell’s, Roberts, and Total Eden. Ruralco has expanded through acquisition, and entering joint-venture agreements with specialist businesses. Since its establishment in 1989, it has grown to have an annual turnover of more than $1.8 billion.
With operations throughout Australia, Ruralco faced challenges when it came to managing its decentralized financial processes. Each business operates as a separate entity but is required to report back to the central finance department within Ruralco’s Sydney headquarters. As operations grew, this process had become increasingly cumbersome and was particularly problematic when it came to the reconciliation of transactions. “We lacked visibility about what was happening at each of our locations,” says Patrick Eustace, Ruralco Finance Transformation Manager. “It was difficult to have a clear picture of our overall reconciliation position.” Reconciliations were either being completed manually on paper or by using Excel spreadsheets. Detailed reconciliations were manually captured in SAP and then emailed to the central finance office where they were reviewed and manually approved. “There was no structure in place and the process was overly time consuming,” says Eustace. “The double handling of information also meant there was potential for errors and omissions.”
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