BlackLine has launched its ‘Modern Accounting Playbook’ (MAP). Targeted at the mid-market it provides an implementation accelerator for organisations looking to implement the BlackLine accounting automation platform.
BlackLine MAP not only helps companies through the initial implementation it also helps them continue to improve their accounting process as time passes. The “carrot” that BlackLine is offering, is free implementation for a limited number of qualifying companies before June 30th, 2020. While BlackLine does not state in the article how it defines mid-market, the supporting material infers that it is companies with a finance team of between 5 and 100.
That offer is being made to help companies achieve cost savings without the upfront cost during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a sensible ploy, and although it sacrifices professional services revenues, it means that longer-term revenue growth is protected. That growth stood at 27% last year and Mark Woodhams, SVP Global Sales, BlackLine wants to see that maintained. He stated in a recent interview with Enterprise Times: “We saw good growth last year, 27%. I am planning on executing as well, if not better this year.”
Marc Huffman, BlackLine’s president and COO commented: “We’ve created a curated playbook for rapid success, based not only on our experience working with so many market-leading companies, but also on our own growth path from boot-strapped business to Nasdaq-listed entity. With MAP, we’re providing a guided process that shaves time off the close, slashing workloads and bolstering financial statement integrity, quickly.”
What is MAP?
MAP consists of several components including the BlackLine cloud solution. There are also a large number of templated components that help companies to see value from BlackLine in 60-90 days. The components include:
- Automated high-volume bank matching.
- Close checklists.
- Data extraction.
- ERP integration.
- Key reports and dashboards.
- Standardized reconciliations.
- Structured tasks and workflows including approval flows.
The process starts by helping companies to roll out the core components of the BlackLine solution which include:
- Central workspace with automated trial balance import.
- Standardized reconciliations with automation.
- Dynamic & transparent close activities tracking.
- Role-centric reporting & proactive alerts.
- Rule-based transaction matching for bank files.
- Enhanced controls
Once the core solution is deployed, MAP enables finance teams to gain further value through deeper integration to ERP solutions. Organisations can then deploy further enhancements to further improve finance and accounting processes.
Huffman added: “After MAP’s core foundation is in place, we guide the customer on how to approach each growth milestone they may encounter. So when a customer needs to automate more accounting processes as business volume and complexity increases or tackle more advanced needs to prepare for significant milestones like an IPO, acquisition or venture-capital round, there’s never a gap from demand to delivery.”
BlackLine has developed MAP over several years of implementations. Now that it has packaged its solution it will become easier to train others on and provide a set of tools that will reduce the cost of the implementation of BlackLine.
Jade Lee, director of corporate accounting at HashiCorp, commented: “Our BlackLine implementation was very straightforward. I’ve been implementing systems for many years, and this was one of the most organized and smooth-running implementations I’ve ever experienced.”
While rapid implementation is good news, its real objective is actually to ensure a faster time to value for its customers. Nucleus Research found that BlackLine takes an average 9 months to pay back, that should be reduced significantly for those customers that can take advantage of the free installation. As a cloud solution, BlackLine uses subscription-based pricing. BlackLine customers cite several benefits from the solution, they include:
- “Reduced time spent on reconciliations by 50%“, Air Medical Group Holdings.
- “36% reduction of manual journal entries”, Brooks Rehabilitation.
- “Gained visibility into the close process at any time”, Pluralsight.
- “Increased reviews from 4 to 12 per year”, Nasdaq.
BlackLine is often cited as the market leader in Financial Close Management. It was recently recognized as a 2020 Gartner Peer Insights Customers’ Choice for Cloud Financial Close Solutions. It is also a leader in both the mid-market and enterprise G2 Grid for Financial Close software.
For companies that were considering deploying BlackLine, but have held back because of the current pandemic and the costs involved, now may be the time to reconsider. However, as BlackLine is limiting the number of companies that can benefit from the offer they might need to decide quickly. It will be interesting to see how many companies take up the offer.
During the pandemic, it will be harder to roll out the software as the implementation teams will have to work virtually. Finance teams are still getting used to working from home. If they have lots of paper this will be harder. Rolling out a solution of this nature will not be as easy as before the lockdown.
What would be extremely useful is if BlackLine manages to persuade a customer to do it, and then gets them to talk about how they achieved it in the current circumstances.