Measurable ROIBy Wendy Shapiro | Posted 2010-12-09 Print
By automating the financial-close process, Atlas Air freed up time, money and resources.
The BlackLine suite has saved Atlas Air time and money and allowed our accounting groups to focus on playing a more strategic role in the company as it continues to grow. Overall, the software has reduced our monthly reconciliation-review process by approximately five business days.
In addition, we can submit our Securities and Exchange Commission filings an average of three days earlier. We estimate the total cost savings to be approximately $125,000 per year, which includes a reduction in audit fees, supplies/storage and headcount.
Employees’ morale has improved because they no longer have to perform administrative tasks, such as photocopying for auditors and searching for lost reconciliations. Because the software can be accessed from anywhere, it’s easier for employees to work from home, if needed.
On average, each employee saves eight hours during the monthly close cycle. This allows them to work on other projects and spend more time with their families. Many of our employees have told us that their quality of life has improved since we implemented this system. Turnover in the accounting group has also been very low.
The BlackLine implementation has benefited Atlas Air in others ways, as well. I no longer stay awake at night wondering where we are in the close process because it takes only one click to get a status update. The integrity of the close process is enhanced, as the opportunity for minor errors—such as incorrect balances creeping into the reconciliation reports and variance analyses—is eliminated because balances are pulled directly from our financial system. Plus, standard journal entries and closing items are no longer forgotten because all items are certified as a part of our closing checklists, which are housed within BlackLine’s task module.
With the process well-established in the new system, recreating tasks, variance analysis and reconciliations are easier because data from prior periods can be leveraged in the current period. The overall audit process has been shortened, and the overall integrity of the process has been strengthened.
The early stages of the audit process are no longer focused on gathering the required backup and tracking the manual sign-offs and audit requests. Instead, the focus is on enhancing the quality of the reconciliations and support required for the audit.
As we grow and develop the workflow aspects of the BlackLine suite, we see it assisting us in automating other once-manual procedures and making them more efficient. "
Wendy Shapiro is senior director of corporate accounting for Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, based in Purchase, N.Y.
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