This is Part 3 of an article that originally appeared in Frontier Enterprise, and features insights from InTheBlack Singapore. Read Part 1 and 2 here.

Transforming the
finance function can sound daunting, but it’s doable and even mandatory for
business survival. During a panel at InTheBlack Singapore, the speakers traded
success stories and tips on how to handle challenges and minimize mistakes in
the long-term journey
of digitally-transformed finance
.

The panel
included Petra Putzier, Finance Manager at Dyson Singapore; Carmeli Briones,
Head of Financial Control and Shiela Marie Jimenez, Head of Collection Audit,
Group Finance at Globe Telecom, Philippines; and Tammy Coley, Chief Transformation
Officer at BlackLine.

Focusing on BlackLine’s
automation capabilities
, the panelists noted how the tedious manual work of
financial processes is now history. Improvements in accuracy, trackability, and
efficiency now allow their teams to focus on the customer, both internally and
externally.

In place of time
spent handling the perennial headaches of audit and compliance, staff now use
dashboards to keep tabs on every project within their purview, obtain a
big-picture overview of any problems that crop up, and quickly collaborate with
cross-functional teams in the company to solve them satisfactorily.

Instead of
working in silos, every department can now be tightly linked with each other,
boosting agility and resilience. Instead of being just a controller function,
finance teams are using BlackLine to add value to other business units’
planning and strategic goals.

The panel noted
that while BlackLine is a great DX platform, migrating to such a powerful
system requires proper planning. Teams also must be willing to move away from
legacy practices that may be treasured, but are ultimately untenable in a
cloud-based automation environment.

Throughout the
event, the InTheBlack audience gained insights into how companies like theirs
approached their DX goals and priorities differently when integrating BlackLine
into their digitalization strategy.

Understanding
Robotic Process Automation in Finance

Automation using
robotic systems (RPA) helps integrate legacy systems into the latest
cloud-based platforms. However, RPA is not a panacea, and has to be applied
with foresight about the “where, when, and how” of DX planning.

BlackLine’s
Senior Director of Product Marketing, Zach Deming, stressed that “bots” cannot
yet perform the complex financial analyses that trained humans can. What they
can do is facilitate process automation of simple, repetitive tasks required at
high speed.

By freeing up
finance personnel to perform value-added work, RPA complements the workflow and
enhances productivity.

What does BlackLine
add to the RPA trend in the finance sector? Its machine learning functionality
can help by speeding up detail-heavy reconciliations, such as credit card
matching or invoice-to-PO matching. In turn, speeding up such transaction
matching tasks cuts the errors and delays in the critical month-end close.

According to
Zach, RPA tools reduce risk, increase accuracy, and improve visibility, all
while freeing accountants from the mind-numbing drudgery of manual closing
activities.

Talent can then
be freed to focus on what really matters to the health and wealth of the
business: forecasting, analysis, and strategy.

While there are
fears of RPA resulting in staff redundancy, Zach counters that these risks can
be mitigated as long as professionals remain willing to uptrain
and remain relevant
.

Clarity of Purpose: Using New Reporting & Dashboards

Users of BlackLine’s
reporting functionality
can gain sharp insights into the progress, results,
and risks of their financial closing processes. Elaborating on this was
Solutions Consultant Alex Chai of BlackLine. The new dashboards in the platform
now provide users with role-based intelligence so that everyone can take
intuitive action and streamline their workflows.

Using Motor
Sports as an example, Alex noted that winning teams bank on timely access to
critical and accurate information, in addition to fast and tight team
collaboration.

Similarly,
BlackLine’s succinct dashboards help visualize key data for users to facilitate
fast decision-making based on reliable financial data and insights. When
needed, users can drill down into detailed data in multiple dimensions to see
what requires attention or reconciliation.

In the area of
reporting, BlackLine allows variance analysis to be done during a close and not
after, as is the norm in traditional workflows using spreadsheets. Using
dynamic actual-vs-budget reports, users can set variance thresholds to detect
situations that require attention.

BlackLine’s
dynamic tracking of time-sensitive assets also prevents surprises, such as
excessive stocks of perishable products nearing expiry dates. Preventing urgent
intervention in operations can only lead to fewer human errors and improved
clarity for management overview.

Finally, Alex
touched on the process improvements that could be identified when rejections in
certifications occur. Such a bird’s-eye view allows organizations to improve
staff training and morale, leading to a strong and trusting business culture.

Attend InTheBlack
2019
 in Los Angeles
to gain even more insights like these, through inspiring keynotes, education,
networking, and professional development.


The post Tips for Successful Finance Transformation appeared first on BlackLine Magazine.