Spending More Time Analyzing Balances and Reviewing Results

Sanoma is a front running media and learning company with a broad presence across multiple platforms, spanning from newspaper and magazine publishing to TV and radio, as well as educational publishing and business information. One of Sanoma’s goals is to empower teachers to develop the talents of every single child. Sanoma operates in over 10 European countries, records net sales totaling EUR 1.6 billion, and employs more than 5,000 professionals. It is the leading consumer media company in Finland and the Netherlands.

The Challenge

Sanoma’s size means that there is a significant volume of transactions to reconcile monthly. With an offshore partner and teams spread across different countries, this created two challenges: a slow closing process, and a lack of visibility into the status of account reconciliations and financial close tasks.

Even with 50 people working on the financial close and account reconciliation process, teams were often under pressure at month end. Reliance on Excel in the department was an additional source of difficulties. Many accountants, for example, tried to access the same files at the same time, causing them to crash on a routine basis. All in all, accounting teams spent more time on repetitive tasks—moving data from one spreadsheet to another, creating manual journal entries, checking for possible double entries, etc.—than on financial analysis and counsel. This was a source of frustration for the team, who felt that their skills were not fully utilized. The company wanted to improve processes to gain efficiencies, starting with replacing Excel spreadsheets for a more seamless way of working.

Sanoma set out to find the right automation solution that would meet its efficiency and performance goals:

• Improve the quality of account reconciliations while reducing the required workload

• Enable a smoother and more accurate close

• Improve audit results and strengthen internal controls

• Increase month-end close task automation

ERP

SAP

Region

Europe

Company Size

Enterprise

Business Impact

86% of account reconciliations now automated, time savings of 83% achieved every month, 69% of SAP close activities now fully automated

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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

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