Reducing Time Spent on Month-End Close by 83%

Since 1992, Griffin Technology has designed and manufactured technical solutions with an innovative flair. The company is now one of the largest providers of accessories for personal computing and digital media, including the iTrip family of FM transmitters and the groundbreaking Evolve Wireless Sound System. Griffin provides solutions for digital entertainment and personal

computing to people in the Americas, Europe, and Asia through both major retailers and online.

The Challenge

With a mere 350 employees, Griffin Technology does more than 151 million in revenue each year. Yet while the company delivered time-saving, lifestyleenhancing solutions to customers, their accounting team was still stuck using a highly manual, spreadsheet-driven process to manage their month-end close.

According to Cathy Jurgensen, General Accounting Manager, Corporate Operations US, at Griffin, “The biggest challenge was that our reconciliations were not being done regularly. It was hit or miss. The process wasn’t consistent,and it took us 30 days to close.”

The month-long process wasn’t just time consuming. It also ensured an arduous, four-month end-of-year audit, with accountants scrambling to aggregate and prepare hundreds of files for auditors. Additionally, without a current balance sheet and up-to-date transaction information, financial and operational decisions were being made on old data.

The month-long process wasn’t just time consuming. It also ensured an arduous, four-month end-of-year audit, with accountants scrambling to aggregate and prepare hundreds of files for auditors. Additionally, without a current balance sheet and up-to-date transaction information, financial and operational decisions were being made on old data.

Pourquoi BlackLine

Griffin not only needed to significantly reduce the time it took to complete reconciliations. The company also had to ensure accounting data was more visible and accessible to both accountants and auditors. This meant moving away from a reliance on spreadsheets and implementing a system that would automate many of the rote and repetitive close activities.

While Griffin reviewed numerous account reconciliation software vendors, the company partnered with BlackLine for several key reasons. First, BlackLine integrated seamlessly with their existing ERP, JD Edwards. This was crucial to maintaining the integrity of data during transfers between systems. “BlackLine works so well with our ERP. We have it set up so it automatically creates a file we just import into BlackLine,” said Jurgensen.

BlackLine’s ease of use was also significant in the decision. While Griffin’s existing close process was terribly inefficient, they thought that implementing any new technology meant accountants would have to spend additional time learning a new system. But the company discovered via demos and customer recommendations that BlackLine was not only user friendly, but that free training via BlackLine U meant the company wouldn’t have to pay extra for initial instruction.

The Results

Reduced time spent on the close from 30 days to 5. By using BlackLine to automate reconciliations and other end-ofmonth activities, Griffin has reduced the time spent on the close by 83%. “We’re closing in five days. Before, it took an entire month,” said Jurgensen. “Now our reconciliations are done consistently and being reviewed in a timely manner.”

Increased accuracy and identified discrepancies faster. A more efficient close with BlackLine has also improved Griffin’s ability to deliver accurate financial information to decision makers in less time. “BlackLine has helped make sure our financial reporting is more accurate because we have our reconciliations done the next week,” said Jurgensen. “We’re able to identify any discrepancies very quickly.”

Shortened the year-end audit period by 25%. Previously, Jurgensen and her team spent four months just managing their year-end audit. Today, that process has been reduced by 25%. “With BlackLine, all our reconciliations are in one place, and they’re consistent from month to month,” said Jurgensen. “This has enabled us to reduce our year-end audit period from four months to just three.”

Streamlined transaction matching. With BlackLine, Jurgensen and her team spend far less time on credit card matching. It’s also much easier to identify missing transactions. “By using Matching, we’re able to reconcile bank and credit card transactions on the first day of the month. That helps our closing time,” said Jurgensen. “We get a file from the processor and credit card details from the JD Edwards export, and then we import it into BlackLine. That process is

helpful if they make any changes on our web store, as we’re able to identify missing transactions in JD Edwards.”

Automated the accounting of prepaid expenses. Previously, ensuring prepaid accounts were amortized correctly was a highly manual process. With BlackLine, Jurgensen and her team can use the prepaid amortization template in Account Reconciliations to automate the accounting of prepaid expenses. “With BlackLine, you can set up the amortization schedules, and it automatically reduces it each month to make your balance match with the GL. That’s a nice tool.”

Enabled real-time access for auditors. With BlackLine, Griffin can grant immediate access to auditors, eliminating the need for accountants to aggregate, scan, and email files. BlackLine saves auditors time, as well. “Our auditors really like using it. It’s really good for them,” said Jurgensen. “They just log in and all the information is there for them.”