The use of automated account reconciliation software, such as Blackline Account Reconciliations, Chesapeake’s T-Recs Enterprise, and Trintech’s Certification (formerly AssureNET), among others, is becoming more prevalent at companies across the globe. With this growing popularity, it is likely that most major corporations will be using one of these solutions in the next few years, which makes the experiences of those companies that have already carried out what can often be a significant implementation effort, critical to the success of others going down a similar road.
During a recent Peeriosity PeercastTM in the General Accounting research area, a major corporation shared their experiences in implementing the Blackline Account Reconciliations software solution across their Global Business Services operation. With company operations in almost every country in the world and with three service center locations, this company faces a wide variety of complex challenges on a regular basis. As a result, implementing a global solution for automation of account reconciliations was a significant effort that required strong support from the entire Finance organization in order to be a success.
After utilizing internally-developed reconciliation templates for nine years, in 2011 this company decided it was time to automate what was a very important, but resource-intensive, process. After considering a variety of providers, they selected the Blackline solution. In conjunction with that vendor selection, they developed the following business case forecast:
- Full Time Equivalent Reduction of 8.3
- Minimal Capital – Software as a Service
- Return on Investment (ROI) 268%
- Months to recover initial capital < 5
Implementation began in 2012, with some of the highlights of that effort including the following:
- Great Project Team
- Excellent BlackLine Implementation Support
- Loaded General Ledger Balances
- Loaded Policy, Account Purpose, Reconciliation Procedure
- Determined Frequency
- Assigned Templates
- 6 standard BlackLine Templates
- Loaded Sub-Ledger Balances
- Developed SAP “Info” Sub-Ledgers
- Identified Zero Balance Accounts
Their “Go Live” date was February 2013 to perform January 2013 reconciliations, with close to 50,000 general ledger balances, over 15,000 reconciliations, and over 500 users involved in the process. They experienced immediate benefits from the transition, including having a single repository for reconciliations, auto-certification of 55% of the accounts, and eliminating non-value added tasks such as creating templates, doing screen prints of SAP balances, and completing reconciliation sign-offs in their old system.
In conjunction with the PeercastTM were two iPollingTM questions. The first question looked at what account reconciliation tool companies were currently using, with Blackline being the most popular with 47%. Trintech was utilized by 16% of the companies, and spreadsheets or other internally developed tools were used by 29%.
The second polling question addressed what was the key factor that most influenced the selection of their account reconciliation software provider. Looking at the results, the vendor’s technology was by far the most prevalent response, with 44%. The fit with the current system was most important to 25% of the companies, followed by the cost of implementation/licensing with 17% of the responses.
Some of the member comments from the poll include the following:
Energy & Utilities Member: We had a very strong internally-developed process with a performance dashboard and a mechanism for using reconciliation templates, track preparation and review, and perform quality ratings, but no centralized visibility. We went to Blackline for ease of support, fantastic training material, and vendor driven upgrades, with a minimal loss of functionality and key features. We are very pleased with the result.
Manufacturing Member: Currently deploying the Oracle ARM globally on top of Oracle Financials.
Computers & Electronics Member: Trintech was able to fulfill our business requirements for how we perform our reconciliations.
Media & Entertainment Member: I am very happy with Blackline.
Manufacturing Member: We are currently using an Excel spreadsheet to manage our reconciliation preparation/review process, but are looking at 3rd party software. Due to the size and global nature of the business, it is becoming increasingly difficult to manage the process manually in Excel.
Real Estate & Construction Member: Another geography selected Blackline, so we also went with Blackline in the U.S.
Manufacturing Member: We are considering the switch to Trintech from Blackline.
Manufacturing Member: Vendor selection was a combination of all of the factors.
Real Estate & Construction Member: Trintech is also a locally-based company which factored in.
Manufacturing Member: Plan to begin implementing Oracle’s Account Reconciliation Module in 2014, primarily due to its integration with Oracle eBS.
How effective is your company’s account reconciliation process? Would the recently introduced technology in this area result in a transformation of this labor-intensive effort?
Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?
“PeercastsTM” are private, professionally facilitated webcasts that feature leading member company experiences on specific topics as a catalyst for broader discussion. Access is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from attending or accessing discussion content. Members can see who is registered to attend in advance, with discussion recordings, supporting polls, and presentation materials online and available whenever convenient for the member. Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, attendees can easily communicate at any time with other attending peers by selecting them from the list of registered attendees.
“iPollingTM” is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from participating or accessing content. Members have full visibility to all respondents and their comments. Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participated in iPolling.
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