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Implementing Blackline’s Account Reconciliation Solution

Introduction

BlackLine Account Reconciliations is one of the most popular solutions utilized by major corporations across the world that automates and standardizes the general ledger reconciliation process.  Some of the benefits of this type of solution include automated review and approval workflows, with proper segregation of duties; reconciliation templates and checklists to standardize processes; integrated storage of supporting documentation for easy review and audit; and a link to applicable policies and procedures for easy reference.

While the benefits of this type of solution can be substantial, as with any system implementation such as this at a large corporation, the impact on the existing processes, organizational structure, and policies can be significant.  This research abstract looks at the recent efforts of a major corporation as they went through the implementation effort to implement BlackLine Account Reconciliations.

Company Experience

During a recent Peeriosity PeercastTM, a large healthcare company shared their experiences in implementing and administering the BlackLine Account Reconciliations solution, including some of the biggest challenges faced when doing so.  One of the first things they shared was the preparations they made prior to proceeding with the implementation.  Some of those included engaging IT to help determine how data would be extracted out of the ERP and other systems and into BlackLine, identifying the administrators who would oversee the ongoing usage of the new system, setting up the system governance, identifying templates and group accounts for existing reconciliations, and identifying the auto-certification rules.  Some of those auto-certification rules included the following:

  • All balances zero or null balance and no activity
  • Sub-ledger reconciliation match
  • Bank reconciliation match
  • Intercompany difference less than threshold
  • Consolidation accounts match general ledger
  • GL balance has not changed since last user certified period and no activity
  • Journal does not require user certification
  • Recurring journal from journal master with prior use certification
  • Task completed in external system

The areas they are focusing on to improve their BlackLine system implementation are segregated into three major categories, including Refining Administration, Increasing Efficiency, and Standardization.  For Refining Administration, the focus is on increasing auto-certification, optimizing template usage, and providing education regarding software updates.  For Increasing Efficiency, they are working on rules-based administration and exploring system functionality.  Finally, for Standardization, their efforts are on the reconciliation templates, reporting, and quality control.

iPollingTM Results Review

Recently, a poll was developed by a Peeriosity member using the iPollingTM technology regarding the account reconciliation solution utilized by companies, as well as the impact of the implementation on the account reconciliation review process.  Looking at the results of the first poll question, BlackLine clearly dominates this space, with 59% of the companies utilizing that solution.  Another 11% utilize either Trintech or Hyperion, and 11% use an internally-developed solution.

The second poll question then focused on the status of companies updating the control review process of the automated reconciliation tool post-implementation.  Reviewing the results, 43% of the companies have updated the control review process and are satisfied with the results of doing so.  Another 17% have updated the control review process, but feel that it needs improvement, while 9% are currently updating the process.  An additional 13% are currently evaluating doing an update, while 9% have determined that no change to the control review process is necessary.

Some of the related comments made by Peeriosity members to this poll include the following:

Consumer Products & Services Member: Blackline tool is used for workflow & as a repository tool. We have an offline process to perform quality, after we implemented risk ranking.

Manufacturing Member: Reconciliations are made in Excel and uploaded to SharePoint.

Manufacturing Member: Blackline used as an account reconciliation repository – account reconciliations are not automated.

Manufacturing Member:  Just utilizing manual controls currently.

Closing Summary

The implementation of any automated account reconciliation solution can have a significant short-term impact on often limited General Accounting resources, but that upfront effort will have a major favorable return on investment in a relatively short time period.  Assigning the most effective implementation team resources to the project as such important decisions as process redesign, organization alignment, and accounting policy revisions are made will be critical to the initial success of the implementation and ongoing administration of the automated solution.

What is the status at your company with respect to the implementation and utilization of an automated account reconciliation solution?  Is your current approach meeting your needs or is it time to take another look at this critical technology?

Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?

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“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 iPollingTM.

Peeriosity members are invited to log into www.peeriosity.com to join the discussion and connect with Peers.   Membership is for practitioners only, with no consultants or vendors permitted.  To learn more about Peeriosity, click here.



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