BlackLine Streamlines Complex Reconciliation Functions

This article accompanied the November 2010 Review of Client Write-Up Programs.

As a business grows and retains more of its accounting expertise in-house, the processes associated with period closes and reconciliations are just as important as for those who use an outside accountant. They still need more comprehensive tools than most traditional off-the-shelf business applications can provide, especially for balancing hundreds or even thousands of accounts, while ensuring that proper accounting principles are maintained.

BlackLine Systems has been developing custom accounting solutions specifically for such businesses, starting with the First National Bank of Nebraska in 2001. The technology vendor’s initial task was to help the financial institution part ways with the antiquated and cumbersome spreadsheets they used to manage thousands of reconciliations every month. This would soon result in a commercial product that is tailored to the unique needs of various enterprise-level organizations. The company offers its solution in a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, with the application hosted at its SAS 70 Type II certified facility, thereby relieving organizations of many IT issues, since the program is remotely accessed. Both the data center and BlackLine application have achieved the rigorous SAS 70 Type II certification.

The central module in the BlackLine system is the Balance Sheet Account Reconciliations feature, which helps financial managers standardize processes across their organization. Its auto-reconciliation capabilities are designed to streamline the often time-intensive tasks associated with reconciliation, providing multiple dashboards and reporting options for oversight and analysis. It also integrates all major ERP and GL packages to further streamline accounting functions and increase data accuracy.

BlackLine also offers a Task Management module that provides tools for electronic sign-offs, flexible due dates and inter-related task dependencies. Other modules include options for Journal Entry, Variance Analysis, Transaction Matching and Consolidation Integrity Manager. All of BlackLine’s modules have web-based access and offer integration with paperless document management tools in addition to providing automated alerts.

The systems all have full multi-currency and multi-lingual support. Among the technology vendor’s customers are companies of all sizes, from smaller entities with complex accounting needs, to giants such as AT&T, Boeing and Costco. Global consulting firms including Deloitte, Ernst & Young and KPMG are among a growing list with representatives who are now ‘BlackLine Certified Implementers,’ having completed a rigorous training course offered by the company.