Financial close is nothing short of chaotic whether done at the end of the month, end of the year, or somewhere in between. From long e-mail chains and daily updates to endless hours sorting through data, regulatory updates, and paperwork, the growing risk of inaccurate reporting, incomplete information, and noncompliance is compelling businesses to reconsider the process.

According to IDC, some businesses have improved their ability to connect finance and accounting processes and standardize critical financial workflows with finance software. Increasing automation with applications, such as the SAP Account Substantiation and Automation application by BlackLine, can provide a foundation for consistent communication, data accuracy, auditable completeness, and efficiency throughout the financial close.

IDC’s methodology for determining business value revealed that these companies realized significant advantages, with three critical benefits generating, on average, 474% ROI and an eight-month payback rate.

Boost Efficiency Through Automation and Visibility

Performing account reconciliation in Excel and e-mailing that information to stakeholders is time-consuming and prevents full visibility into the entire company’s reconciliations. Even worse is the potential for delayed, incomplete, or noncompliant reconciliations with business and regulatory policies.

Introducing automation into the account substantiation process can dramatically reduce the manual effort in validation and reporting, freeing up financial staff resources to focus on higher-value tasking. In IDC’s survey, respondents suggested that SAP Account Substantiation and Automation supports their automation of critical steps, including account reconciliation (100%), task management (83%), journal entry (67%), transaction matching (50%), and variance analysis (50%).

After adoption, the average team efficiency increased by 12%. Surveyed companies completed reconciliation activities 18% faster and journal entries 11% faster while increasing the percentage of financial reports yielding accurate results by 3%. Such outcomes mean that the time typically allocated to one full-time employee can be freed up to work on other projects – translating into an annual productivity-based business value of US$78,800 for each organization participating in the study.

Accelerate Processing with Data Accuracy

Inaccurate data and a lack of trust can become significant bottlenecks in the validation and reporting process. They can hamper overall financial close efficiency, riddle cash validation and reporting with errors, and slow the flow of business-critical insight needed to make critical decisions quickly.

Participating CFOs shared with IDC that the modern capabilities of SAP Account Substantiation and Automation minimize those risks. They have achieved improvements, such as shorter time to close and enhanced process transparency. Furthermore, analytics tools help pinpoint areas in account substantiation and reconciliation that require greater attention and improvement.

In return, this benefit elevates the status of finance organizations from a cost center to a value center. For example, CFOs and CIOs can collaborate more to support the business as digital transformation accelerates and digital-first business models emerge and proliferate. This partnership also shifts the criteria used to invest in new financial applications toward a greater focus on security, modern infrastructure, functionality, and ease of use.

Drive Stability by Integrating Workflows

Equal to efficiency and speed, gaining and maintaining control of the validation and reporting process is also critical. The ability to standardize and centralize activities and relevant data is desirable for business environments facing anything from industry uncertainty and economic turbulence to high growth.

Companies interviewed by IDC indicated that using a single, integrated application for account reconciliation, task management, journal entry, transaction matching, and variance analysis is the key to accomplishing this goal. Centralizing all those tasks in SAP Account Substantiation and Automation enables them to manage the whole financial close and help ensure annual audits are performed faster, compliantly, and more confidently.

Additionally, the messiness of the traditional financial close experience is replaced with increased stability because 95% of their account reconciliation happens in SAP Account Substantiation and Automation. This approach helps ensure every person involved in financial close and auditing processes feels more engaged and knows what needs to be done next. But more importantly, everyone understands how their role adds value to the business.

Optimize Confidence with Better Control

Based on IDC’s research, the complexities of today’s financial close process are reaching a point where manual work is an impediment. Instead, a cloud environment is needed to support the automation of repetitive, low-value tasks and enterprise-wide data exchange and collaboration.

For that reason, many finance organizations worldwide rely on SAP Account Substantiation and Automation by BlackLine. As a result, they can adjust the speed and scale of their financial close processes to meet not only their business needs but also the expectations of industry and regulatory auditors.

Explore the value and benefits your accounting- and finance-related activities can gain from the SAP Account Substantiation and Automation application by BlackLine. Register for the webinar with guest speaker from IDC.

Bil Khan is a senior director of Global Partner Marketing at SAP.