Solving Legacy Accounting Challenges With Automation and Process Improvements

Client Snapshot


Protiviti has successfully executed multiple projects spanning various industries to improve their financial close and reporting functions.


Client Situation

Our clients had a number of challenges stemming from manual processes, legacy systems that needed upgrading, unsupported solutions being decommissioned by vendors, disparate systems inherited through acquisitions and much, much more. A trusted business partner was needed – stat!


Work Performed

Protiviti partnered with clients to implement best-of-breed digital solutions to automate financial close processes, along with process improvements and data governance and controls solutions to resolve the issues. Change management to support accounting teams in adopting the new processes was also a key deliverable.



Clients’ results ranged from the automated import of both bank and ledger data and enabled matching with 98% accuracy to the reduction of full-time staff needed to a range from 25 to 60 percent reduction in reconciliation time, allowing staff to spend more time completing critical month-end tasks.


While it is not unusual for Protiviti to see similar challenges among clients, some of our recent work with clients provided us the opportunity to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of their close processes through our recommended solutions to streamline accounting processes for each company. Introducing automation to reduce cycle time of financial close, enabling process improvement and improving governance and internal controls to mitigate risk enabled each client to realize significant benefits.

A complex landscape of accounting challenges

Although each of these projects was undertaken at clients in disparate industries, we were struck by the similarities in the challenges each client faced. While at one organization (a global higher education service provider client), many of the company’s foundational practices were being manually completed, including posting entries (e.g., accruals, amortization) and reconciling data across their general ledger and sub-systems with heavy reliance on Excel, at another, the client was experiencing issues ranging from the complex nature of its business, lack of technology investments and multiple acquisitions. A common thread among each of the clients in this story were the multiple challenges each company encountered due to outdated systems, manual processes, third-party vendor concerns, limitations with storing and managing data and more.

The absence of a single and accurate source of truth plagued each company in its own way. One, a Fortune 200 insurance firm client, had more than 40 customized policy and claims administrative systems feeding data to mainframe ledger systems and to web technology solutions to manage their business, including actuarial, regulatory services and statutory reporting. Yet another organization, following an IPO, had a pressing need to streamline its financial close process with the goal of accelerating its book-close timeline.

Sorting through the chaos

After initial discovery with each client, it was clear that each would benefit tremendously from adoption of best-of-breed cloud-based solutions to automate financial close processes, combined with process improvements and rolling out new data governance and controls. We found that best-of-breed solutions were from BlackLine and Trintech cloud-based systems to be particularly well-suited for each client. 

For example, by transitioning processes to BlackLine at the global higher education service provider, the client was able to standardize about 70 percent of their reconciliation using BlackLine templates, streamlining the reconciliation process by eliminating manual steps and reducing the Excel file volume. Adoption of matching and journal entries allowed daily matching of cash accounts to bank information and addressing gaps via automated journal entry posting to ensure the accuracy of the general ledger. A digital platform allowed significant reduction in the number of manual journal entries during month-end close and enabled roll-out of an enterprise-wide governance process for journal entry (JE) that ensured JE above thresholds and were automated. Due to increased scrutiny and visibility of manual journals, we supported the accounting team’s mindset switch to address discrepancies and exceptions in the source system instead of plugging the fix in ledger via journals.

The same solution (BlackLine task manager, reconciliation, matching and journal entry) was also implemented at an insurance agency client, which allowed that client to deploy a framework for account risk classification, and automated certification that enabled low-risk accounts, immaterial journals and tasks to be certified without manual intervention. This client also automated imports of transactions to apply to match rules, enabling a matching rate of ~90%.

Transaction matching, introduced at a national financial institution, achieved Automation of data extraction from ERP systems, sub-ledgers and financial institutions. Transaction matching also enabled the rule-based engine to automate detail-heavy reconciliations (cash accounts and credit card matching) and reduced manual intervention by automating reconciliation applied to business rules.

At the Fortune 200 insurance firm, we recommended implementation of the Trintech’s Cadency solution to simplify the financial close, certification and transaction matching processes across the enterprise, enabling improved visibility to the close process. This, in turn, allowed the team to address issues such as data discrepancies that held up the close process. Automated approval reduced cycle time for completing close tasks. This company also introduced standardized collection and ingestion of source data required for data reconciliation.  This client also used structured and rule-based data to automate reconciliation, eliminating manual-based processes.  They setup of clear responsibility for tasks in a closing schedule and were able to socialize and define deadlines for critical tasks during month-end close which was aligned by key business stakeholders. They also created a a reporting framework that allows clear and regular communication regarding month-end close status.  Cross-functional team collaboration across the company to address and solve issues that arise during month-end close using the technology workflow.

Measurable results

Results varied by client. The higher education service provider client has scheduled approximately 40 percent of journals to be automated, with plans to expand going forward. The company also automated import of ledger data that enabled matching with 98 percent accuracy and enabled approximately 60 percent of accounts to be reconciled automatically via rule-based configuration, eliminating manual work.  This client improved visibility into the financial close process, enabled by workflow and timely alert, allowing complex close processes to be completed on time and providing near real-time reporting on close progress.

The Fortune 200 insurance firm transitioned nearly 1600 tasks, relating to IFRS and STAT reporting and accounting process, to a central cloud-based platform, which improved the month-end close process efficiency. Nearly 200 team members now understand their dependency on both upstream and downstream steps, which helped with visibility into process bottlenecks and improved cross-functional collaboration and communication.

At the national financial institution client, automating certification eliminated the need to touch ~25 to 30% of reconciliations, freeing up accounting team capacity to focus on resolving identified exceptions. And the insurance agency improved process visibility meaning that both operational and senior executives can track the real-time status of financial close and drill down into the underlying data for a better understanding of bottlenecks and complexities.

Transitioning to a cloud-based solution across the enterprise improved visibility to the close process, allowing the accounting team to address bottlenecks while developing lean and efficient processes.