Getting your BlackLine Admins Prepared for the New Year

As we get ready for a new calendar year, BlackLine admins can take several steps to ensure a smooth transition from 2022 to 2023. Although not every suggestion below may apply to your organization, they provide a general framework for common tasks that can help you increase the accuracy and efficiency of your BlackLine implementation.

Period End Dates

Perhaps the most important task BlackLine admins will need to complete is adding period-end dates for the coming calendar year. If this step is missed, system imports will fail, and users will not be able to toggle to the appropriate periods and complete their assignments.

While completing this step, be sure to indicate which periods are monthly, quarterly, and annually to align your period-end dates with frequencies correctly.

And while it may be tempting to work ahead, it’s strongly recommended to only build out periods for one year at a time. Including more than one year in a drop-down menu makes it more difficult for users to toggle to the current year and the current period.

Update and Assign Due Dates

On the same screen where you add new periods, you can assign the due dates for each period’s reconciliations, variance, and CIM. If due dates are left blank, users cannot see when their assignments are due, and they may not complete them on time, which can hold up your close process.

This will also prevent notifications from being sent for warning or delinquent alerts and will affect the running of any reports based on late or past-due statuses for reconciliations, variance, or CIM because there won’t be a due date in the system to calculate the dates from. In addition, there will not be a due date in the user preparer and approver grids.

Close Prior Periods

The final date-related item to consider for BlackLine admins is ensuring that all prior periods have been closed for importing balances and rates. It is a best practice to close the period from importing balances each month once the balances are final and have been loaded into BlackLine.

If a period is not closed, there’s a risk that an account balance can be imported for the incorrect period. If, for instance, the date on an import file is incorrect and a period is open for importing, the import will overwrite the reconciliation balances, potentially causing a mass decertification of accounts. The previous balances would then have to be corrected and recertified by preparers and approvers.

Review Custom Frequencies

If your organization uses custom frequencies, such as having reconciliations, tasks or variance set to a frequency other than BlackLine’s standard frequencies of monthly, quarterly, or annually, you’ll need to review these frequencies for the new year and assign the correct period-end dates to the corresponding frequencies.

This step will ensure that any record with a custom frequency will be required for the specified period. Each period-end date will need to have all the applicable periods added.

It’s important to remember that a period-end date can be used in multiple custom frequencies. For example, the 12/31 date will commonly be assigned to monthly, quarterly and annual periods. If you have tasks, variance, or even some reconciliations completed with any frequency other than monthly, and this step is not completed, those records will not appear for certification in that period.

Review the Matching Module

If you’re using BlackLine’s matching module, the end of the year is a great time to review your matching setup. For example, review the matched transactions grid to ensure there are no unloaded transactions that need administrative action. If there are unloaded transactions in any match sets, review the transactions and follow up with the preparer to see whether these lines should be deleted from the system.

In the unmatched transaction section, review the number of unmatched transactions and the posting dates for each match set, and follow up with the assigned preparers if the dates or number of transactions fall outside of your company’s tolerance.

It’s also important to review the pass rules for all match sets to see if they are performing appropriately. One item to look for is whether any rules display the word “delete” with a blue hyperlink, which indicates that this rule has not picked up any matches yet. This rule may need to be deleted, inactivated, or adjusted.

Another good time to review a match set is when any new types of transactions are expected to come in, such as for a new vendor or document type. Some pass rules may need to be created to capture expected matches appropriately or updated to ensure the new transactions are matched.

Review Journal Validations

If you’re using the journal module, review any validations to ensure they are correct and up to date. This information is typically a scheduled import directly from your ERP. However, it is a good practice to validate this information at least once a year to ensure that it is still accurate and correct.

Similarly, if your company is using journal masters, check to see if any active journal masters are set to end at the end of the year. It may be helpful to send a list of these entries to the preparers to ensure they are set up correctly, if any adjustments need to be made, or if the entry needs to be recreated for the new year.

BlackLine has a journal setting that requires users to enter an end date for all journal masters, so those entries do not run indefinitely. If this is not activated, it might be worthwhile to have a conversation with your management, internal controls, or audit to see if this is a setting that your company should be taking advantage of.

If not, it’s important to have preparers review the entries at least annually to ensure the entry is still necessary and correct. Since these entries typically auto-certify each month, it can be easy to lose sight of these entries. Year-end is a good time to validate and review these items, especially since numbers or accounts may change.

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