Embracing an automated approach to financial close


BlackLine's Mike Hibbert: Businesses must transform their financial close process to become more efficient.

At the Finance Indaba 2018, BlackLine highlighted the importance of compliance around the financial close processes and how to make the processes automated and more tightly controlled, particularly during the time sensitive close periods. 

“We also illustrated how the financial close process has evolved given the technology that is available today,” says Mike Hibbert, director for Africa at BlackLine.

Today the financial close process is still very much a manually-driven one that is highly reliant on spreadsheets. Companies spend millions on enterprise resource planning solutions or a general ledger system but when it comes to month-end, they still do it the old-fashioned way, because that is the way it has always been done.

Says Mike: 

“Gartner refers to this area of business as the Last Mile of Finance. This is what BlackLine addresses. Gartner named BlackLine as pioneers in the enhanced financial controls and automation (EFCA) field, bringing automation, workflow, control and visibility in real-time to the process. It is about trusting that your controls meet with evolving compliance requirements.”

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He says that because of this, BlackLine has developed solutions for accountants by accountants. The platform is not designed by technologists alone but by those who understand the pain finance departments go through during the close process.

“One of the biggest drivers to change this, aside from simplifying the process, is cost-savings. All companies look to drive costs down. Meaning businesses must transform to make their processes more efficient. Transformation is driving finance to finally move from the old manual way of doing things to a more efficient and controlled approach.”

Mike feels that the paradigm shift happening is the global acceptance of the cloud which is assisting the South African market to accept that there are new, more modern ways to work.

He says: 

“Today, companies are embracing everything from enterprise resource planning to other mission-critical systems in the cloud. This is not only helping drive down costs, but also improving efficiencies. And with finance moving towards a continuous accounting model, we are living in exciting times that enable faster business decisions, using accurate trusted data.” 

BlackLine continues to be involved with the Finance Indaba Africa because, Mike says, “We find the right audience attending the event.” This supports BlackLine in scaling its global business. 

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