Centralize and Standardize the Monthly Close

August 04, 2021

By Arielle Weisbord

Closing the books has always been challenging for organizations, and the financial close is often a negative experience for accountants because of the increased stress levels, diminished personal relationships and reduction in overall work-life balance.  For some, the monthly close has become even more difficult in this remote work environment. Automating this process through technology can provide some relief as cloud solutions deliver opportunities to improve the overall experience. BlackLine, a provider of finance/accounting solutions, joined EisnerAmper for a webinar this month focused on Modern Accounting and the Continuous Close, titled “Centralize and Standardize the Monthly Close with BlackLine.”

Panelists included:

  • Greg Fritsky, National Director of Robotics, AI and Data Analytics, EisnerAmper Digital
  • Cindy Daniele, Senior Manager, Outsourced Finance and Accounting, EisnerAmper
  • Jay Pilster, Global Alliances Director, BlackLine
  • Kaitlyn Skudera, Senior, EisnerAmper Digital (Moderator)

The following topics were discussed:

Business Drivers Accelerating the Digital Transformation of Finance

Remote work during the pandemic substantiated the need and ability to collaborate and work together through the cloud in a secure fashion; however, cyber issues continue to pose a problem. With regard to scale and capacity building, economic growth is strong yet the labor force is struggling to find the skill sets to meet demand, which indicates a need for automation. A final consideration is the ability to get better and faster data, and to utilize predictive analytics. Organizations have begun to ask how they can make their processes and practices better and more sustainable.

Modern Accounting

BlackLine's outlook on Modern Accounting follows a three-pronged approach:

  1. Unification: Centralizing and unifying disparate systems and processes as well as data increases visibility into what is happening in the organization and helps to establish global control over accounting, while adding efficiencies in the process.
  2. Automation: After centralizing and standardizing, organizations can begin automating tasks such as reconciliations. Automation also adds capacity to the organization for value-added activities and allows accountants to expand their own skill sets.
  3. Continuous Accounting: Taking monthly processes and making them bi-weekly or daily provides the ability to act faster and know that financial information is validated and accurate. Overall, businesses will function more effectively.

Modernization can start small and develop through the continuous process of growth and learning. Businesses that have implemented BlackLine’s Modern Accounting approach have seen an increase in employee morale from increased work-life balance as well as value-added work.

Continuous Accounting and the Benefits of a Continuous Financial Close

Continuous close is a change of mindset that moves from a ‘batch’ mentality to a live processing environment. Continuous Accounting presents the tools to make decisions faster and flatten the curve of the original month-end close process by breaking it into smaller pieces. For example, within the Accounts Payable process, when clients use Intacct Cloud Account and a bill is posted to Pre-paid, there is an alert which prompts the bill to be put onto a schedule, so that the Journal Entries are created. Reporting can be used to identify anomalies and irregularities and allow for process improvements.

The BlackLine Accounting Cloud

  • The BlackLine Accounting Cloud enables financial close collaboration from anywhere.
  • Blackline helps organizations substantiate and validate the financial information recorded in the ERP and other third-party systems, so that it can be reported to managers, directors, shareholders, banks and additional stakeholders.

Implementing a Continuous Accounting Project

  • Change Management, a key consideration for the project, involves identifying and notifying individuals so that they know what is important in addition to project goals. BlackLine University provides training tools for users to learn the system before implementing a project.
  • Project milestones should outline expectations, while also allowing for flexibility. Implementation and transformation should focus on the deficiencies identified during the review process.

Accelerating the Implementation of Business Applications like BlackLine

  • Implementing a business application should include a clearly defined scope, business involvement, identifying clearly defined areas that will benefit, selecting groups that can act as champions, and creating a hybrid project team so that champions will exist throughout the business following implementation.
  • The Accelerated Implementation Methodology (AIM) for BlackLine outlines a 16-week project plan for all involved parties, including the executive assistant, the business, and the tech team.

“EisnerAmper Digital uses the Accelerated Implementation Methodology (AIM) to deploy Blackline solutions in a manner that achieves value/ROI for clients in a relatively short period of time,” Fritsky noted.

A successful Continuous Accounting project will offer a return on investment, and will enable employees to perform their jobs with reliance on the system and with more enjoyment.  

The webcast can be viewed here.

About Greg Fritsky

Greg Fritsky is the National Director of Robotics, AI and Data Analytics with years of consulting, technology, and internal audit experience. Greg serves as the robotics and intelligent automation leader internally and externally.