Coffee and catch up... Carol Orr, Senior Director EMEA Marketing & Operations at BlackLine

This week we talk with Carol Orr, Senior Director at Blackline , one of our sponsors for our annual conference and our main sponsor for our final Leaders Meeting and Christmas Luncheon over the last few years...

As a vendor, why do you sponsor SSForum UK events year after year?

Although our software has been around for 20 years we are still educating accountants on the risks associated with manual work and using old ‘not fit for purpose’ technology to support business decisions. This is a risky approach in this day and age, there are plenty of reports in the press about re-statements and accounting fraud. Staff suffering from boredom, constantly switching from one system to another, copying and pasting excel or just data keying, are not productive, and are prone to making more mistakes than average; it's perfectly natural for attention spans to shorten and minds to drift when confronted with yet another mundane chore!

 
When you are running a session with SSF UK members what is the typical response from an attendee?

I wish we had that software!   Seriously, we know your members want to move with the times but there is always the day job getting in the way. Accountants know the inefficient areas in their business and have a desire to improve. The stumbling block is often getting a business case together for funding a project, finding a sponsor to promote a project, and getting it past IT and Procurement. It’s a daunting prospect and not for the faint hearted.  As vendors we can help your members to build the business case but there has to be a champion in the company that is a visionary and can see the benefits of a long term partnership and not just a short term gain.

This year we did something completely different at conference and created an ‘escape room’ with your help – how do you feel this went/was received? 

Keeping a session engaging and interactive during conference is difficult, the Escape Room challenge which Josh delivered achieved both!  This session highlighted the amount of time it takes to do something manually, what errors can get overlooked and then how quickly an automated solution can deliver the same outcome in a matter of minutes.  The proof of the pudding as they say, was to highlight to your members the time you could be saving if you automate matching and reconciliations and get off spreadsheets for this area of the financial close. I hope everyone taking part experienced the power of software that perhaps they don’t have today. 

Gartner recently released their Magic Quadrant, what does this tell our members?

The report in 2018 predicts that 80 % of new financial close deployments will be cloud-based, naturally we like this statistic.  And, organisations will be replacing legacy CPM suites with modern systems that work together to compliment investment in new technology to deliver tight controls, automation and workflow, required to meet the needs for real time data reporting.
 
What is the impact to organisations that don’t have real time, accurate data?

It can be very significant. There is a great article in The Wall Street Journal highlighting  a rise in re-statements this year, the first time since SOX was introduced.  It cites PPG and I’ve taken out just one extract to share as it tells a story your members may well be familiar with:

 (https://www.wsj.com/articles/companies-are-finding-more-accounting-flubs-1537474747?mod=djemCFO_h )  

“PPG Industries Inc. in April said that it had received a complaint through an internal reporting system and uncovered a multitude of errors in its financial statements. PPG’s investigation found at least $1.4 million in expenses that were improperly accounted for and up to $5 million of expenses not properly accrued in the first quarter of 2018. This included $1.4 million in amortization expenses that weren’t recorded over a three-year period and an accrued health insurance liability was understated by $500,000. Moreover, there was a failure to adjust inventory value higher by $2.1 million due to inflation of raw-materials costs abroad”. 

Thanks Carol. Once again you have kindly agreed to sponsor our next Leaders' Meeting and Christmas Luncheon of 2018. We are very excited to announce that we are trying something different and this year, instead of the Houses of Parliament, it will be held at The Tower of London! We look forward to seeing you there and continuing to work with you in 2019.

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