Manual accounting methods and lack of access to information, exacerbated by the pandemic, are making it increasingly difficult for companies to manage today’s growing proliferation of finance and accounting data. As a result, many companies are unable to meet or stay compliant with their financial control requirements.

These are some findings from a recent Market Pulse Survey of 250 SAP finance, accounting, and IT leaders by industry analysts IDG. On the positive side, the survey also found that the vast majority of respondents—82%—show an increased interest in technology modernization.

“It’s good to see that modernization ranks high on these leaders’ priorities,” says BlackLine transformation expert Molly Boyle. “But it’s also important to note the urgency implied by that finding. Companies with manual accounting systems are quickly becoming swamped with new data and competing priorities. Modernization is a matter of competitive necessity.”

Manual Accounting Interferes with Strategic Projects

Boyle points to another finding as proof. Nearly all respondents—94%—said that the time they’re spending on manual accounting, compliance, or financial close processes interferes with their ability to focus on strategic projects.

“This adds to the urgent need for modernization,” she says. “It’s not necessarily that company finance and IT processes are failing from a compliance standpoint, but they’re failing to allow resources to provide needed business partnership. Strategic leadership and insights are more important now than ever before, with companies adopting new business models and reinventing themselves to remain competitive in the market.”

Other Findings: F&A, IT Must Work Together

Nearly three out of four, or 72% of survey respondents, said they feel it’s challenging to get finance and IT executive teams to collaborate effectively around technology needs and capabilities. This can strike a crippling blow to organizations trying to move into new markets or expand their company footprint; as Boyle notes, mergers and acquisitions were substantially up in 2021.

“What’s needed more than ever is agility, and that comes from finance and IT partnering on technology and modernization initiatives,” she says. “Traditionally, these groups could operate with a more siloed approach with information passed back and forth when needed.

“But with transformation a priority, CAOs and CIOs must align early and often to avoid confusion, rework, and data issues. Solutions that are easy to implement, provide robust integration options, and can be maintained by the business create a win-win for finance and IT. That’s where the cloud comes in.”

Enter The Cloud to Bring Finance & IT Together

Another positive signal from the IDG survey: 92% of respondents said they are planning a cloud migration in the next 12 to 24 months.

Migrations can take different forms, from partial or hybrid to full migration, and will depend on each organization’s unique needs. What’s important, according to Boyle, is that cloud computing is the best means of bringing finance and IT together to smooth and accelerate the modernization process.

“Cloud technology like BlackLine’s can create a unified data platform—and single version of the truth—that connects to key, otherwise disparate, data sources. Cloud solutions support agility by providing connectivity to new sources and systems, as needed. And most importantly, they allow valuable accounting and IT resources to focus their time on meaningful work rather than validating spreadsheets or processing change requests.”

Learn more about BlackLine’s innovations and why they’re crucial to the success of F&A in this issue of BlackLine Quarterly