If someone
asked if your accounting processes were automated, how would you respond? What
about your month-end close process? Or your account reconciliation process?

The need to
automate is top of mind for Accounting and Finance, but the definition of automation
can vary widely as technologies like Robotic Process Automation, Artificial Intelligence,
Machine Learning, and even Excel-based macros are all considered types of automation.

It’s no
wonder finance professionals have different interpretations of “automation” and
feel overwhelmed by the possibilities.

So, how should
you determine what type of automation is best for your business?

In short, there’s no right answer. First, companies range in
size, in terms of both revenue and budget. A company with significant revenue
might not have the budget or need for accounting close automation.

Second, companies span many different industries. This means
that accounting processes can be specialized based on the core operations of a
business, and therefore require different capabilities.

Although
there is no “accounting automation fits all” solution, here are three things to
consider when exploring automation for your accounting and finance processes.

Don’t Just “Throw a
Bot” on Something

In accounting, if you haven’t heard your manager or
colleague say “throw a bot on it,” trust me―they’re thinking it. Although
robotic process automation (RPA) is no longer a new concept, organizations are
still struggling to figure out why and when to embed automation into a process.

RPA
frees up human resources
by automating manual, repetitive tasks, and it
works—when it’s embedded in the right process. When looking for automation
solutions for accounting, be careful of embedding bots in processes that
require human intervention or are changing in the future.

Bots are good at following preconfigured steps, if those
steps stay the same.

Be Cautious of
Point-Solutions

A point solution is implemented to solve a problem quickly, without
thinking about the entire process or related issues. There are hundreds of
point solutions available for Accounting and Finance, ranging from a close
checklist solution to replace Excel to a highly automated matching engine for
large volumes of data.

But if automating high-volume transactions and replacing Excel
are two areas you want to improve, wouldn’t you want a solution that can do
both?

This is exactly what end-to-end
accounting automation solutions
are designed to do. So, when your team
identifies the need for process improvement, take the time to really assess
solutions that will help you achieve all your goals. Not just one.

Configurable
Automation, Not Customizable

Although
you might be thinking they’re the same, they’re not. Customizable software
involves changing the software coding, and is typically developed for a
specific use. Configurable software already has built-in functionality that the
end user can change themselves.

There is a
time and place for both customizable and configurable automation in software.
But for accounting, the use case for configurable automation is greater.

Customizable
software requires technical support from internal IT or the software vendor
itself, in addition to ongoing maintenance and fees. Configurable does not.

As
businesses grow and new accounting regulations are introduced, having a technology
solution with configurable automation is crucial for process efficiency and
control.

A Solution That
Will Scale

These three considerations have a common theme: choosing
accounting automation that will scale
with
change. And BlackLine can
help you do just that.

BlackLine delivers purpose-built automation, which is directed
and supported by you―not a bot. It’s also configurable to meet your business
needs, as well as generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).

BlackLine is an end-to-end
automation solution
―not a point-solution―that helps accounting teams
address key areas of the financial close process by embedding controls and
centralizing data.

Next week’s blog will dive into the key differentiators between point-solutions and end-to-end solutions.

In the meantime, read this white paper for seven powerful ways to begin evolving your accounting processes.


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