CERP Rhin Rhône Méditerranée trusts BlackLine to modernize its financial function and emerges stronger from the Covid crisis

“We needed to centralize all closing documentation and account justifications in one place. We were therefore looking for an online solution, which would allow us to have access to the process of reviewing the accounts of each employee in the cloud, and also to be able to compensate for absences, in order to resume missions without loss of information. It is with these words that Virginie Bastin, Accounting and Financial Director of CERP Rhin Rhône Méditerranée sums up the challenge facing the pharmaceutical distribution company.

With twenty-four logistics establishments responsible for supplying several thousand pharmacies twice a day in the East of France, the company, which achieves a turnover of 2 billion euros and has more than 1,600 employees , brings together 24 employees within its Accounting and Finance Department. She was the one who called on BlackLine, for multiple reasons.

“At the time, everyone worked in their own corner,” explains Virginie Bastin, “We needed to centralize all the closing documentation and account justifications in a single place. We were therefore looking for an online solution, which would allow us to have access to the process of reviewing the accounts of each employee in the cloud, and also to be able to compensate for absences, in order to resume missions without loss of information. Virginie Grandjean, Financial and tax reporting manager of CERP RRM, in charge of the process modernization project, adds: “We wanted to rethink our method of organization and the way we wanted to build our closing file: stakeholders, justification of accounts, frequency of revision, accounting cycles, etc. »

CERP RRM opts for Blackline

The CERP RRM accounting teams began by evaluating the costs incurred for each financial closing exercise within their organization. “We tried to quantify the administrative cost, in particular by valuing the time devoted to it, then we compared this cost to the expected savings thanks to the self-certification of accounts after the implementation of a modern tool. . We also considered the structuring of the closing and the expected gain in efficiency, in particular for seeking information and transmitting it,” continues Virginie Bastin.

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After an analysis of the various providers on the market, in particular thanks to Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for cloud financial close solutions, the choice of the CERP RRM was made quickly. According to Virginie Bastin, “BlackLine stood out directly from the crowd, for various reasons such as its rapid deployment, its ease of use, and the possibility of adding modules along the way, which opened up longer-term prospects for us. Moreover, if we achieve a significant turnover, our team remains on a human scale and our costs are relatively tight. BlackLine was able to adapt to these constraints and offer a solution that met our needs. »

A multi-step implementation

The implementation of the platform and the Account Reconciliations and Task Management modules took place between September and November 2019, following a decision approved a few months earlier. “The implementation was carried out with the support of a specialist consultant who taught us best practices and was able to answer all the questions we faced during the project,” recalls Virginie Grandjean. “Once the roadmap was drawn up, the implementation itself was quite simple: we received excellent support. BlackLine’s solution was also implemented more quickly than expected: around thirty hours compared to around fifty initially provisioned. Our priorities were the organization, the centralization, the availability of the documents, with a first closing in the tool to be carried out imperatively before February 2020 for the year 2019. What we managed to do. »

“Regarding the integration of new users, they were initially trained using three modules recommended by BlackLine before the first use of the tool, which was presented to them on this occasion” continues the project manager. “The grip was then carried out over the water. We had to learn to navigate the platform and understand its many possibilities. »

Improvements perceived by all and at all levels

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CERP RRM’s financial teams now use BlackLine to reconcile all of the organization’s accounts. The accounting department — i.e. general accounting, suppliers and customers — uses the tool to certify accounts and perform tasks related to closing or various other tasks. The Accounting and Financial Director monitors operations and various tasks. At closing, chartered accountants and auditors consult the entire file there, while with the upcoming implementation of Compliance, internal control will be able to identify risks and manage controls with configurable workflows. The Task Management module allows everyone to follow the progress of the closing cycles from the 2021 closing, and is also used as a calendar for certain missions.

The results were not long in being felt. “BlackLine helped us to optimize the justifications of the accounts carried out by our teams, and to add to the reconciliations the elements expected for a complete statement” decrypts Virginie Bastin. “The tool makes it possible to manage the closing effectively, by indicating to the employees concerned to follow the actions that remain to be carried out on the accounts assigned to them, or the stages for which they are responsible. »

Efficiency made tangible thanks to the pandemic

This unprecedented acceleration was all the more beneficial in that it somehow “prepared” the CERP RRM for a delicate situation such as the health crisis. “The deployment of Blackline allowed us to maintain our usual mode of operation during the pandemic. We managed to complete our accounting close within the traditional deadlines despite the health restrictions, while the auditors were also able to operate entirely remotely. Without Blackline, the passage through 2020 and 2021 would have been significantly more difficult for us. remembers Virginie Bastin.

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“BlackLine enabled us to make the closing process more reliable thanks to several levels of review, to ensure that all of the accounts had been properly reviewed, and to easily monitor the progress of operations in real time. The solution allows everyone – the accounting team as well as the auditors – to work remotely and connect when they wish, and centralizes the work thanks to a single backup location. Features that are not insignificant in the digital age and which have proven essential with the pandemic. she continues.

And now ? “We are in a process of continuous improvement” says Virginie Bastin. Implementation of the Compliance module began in 2021 at CERP RRM, while that of a new module, Cash Application, should begin shortly to automate manual flow reconciliations.