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BlackLine Review & Alternatives for 2022

Susan Honea

Susan Honea – 8 years experience helping businesses with bookkeeping, tax preparation and auditing

Last updated: March 7, 2022

BlackLine is an online accounting package that automates a lot of the tasks that you need to go through when assembling your accounts. We analyze the main competitors to this cloud-based system.

BlackLine Review & Alternatives for 2022

BlackLine is a finance business process automation platform that started up in 2001 to provide a replacement for Microsoft Excel. The company has grown quickly over the past 21 years and now has 11 offices worldwide.

The number of serious competitors to BlackLine is gradually decreasing because the growth strategy of the company is to acquire its rivals. This policy has accelerated the growth of the company and expanded its capabilities, while still staying within the field of finance management automation.

The company bought an SAP automation system, called Runbook, in 2016 and then bought Rimillia, an accounts receivable automation platform, in 2020. More recently, BlackLine completed the takeover of FourQ Systems in January 2022. FourQ specializes in intercompany financial management – a service that is particularly interesting for multinationals that have to roll up their accounts across borders.

The BlackLine platform is constantly expanding but the basic premise of this service is to help businesses get through period closing. If you can lock down the books at the end of each month, compiling year-end financial statements will be a lot easier. So, the work that BlackLine facilitates takes a lot of the stress out of managing the Accounting Department of an enterprise.

BlackLine modules

The BlackLine cloud-based platform is comprised of modules. These are:

  • Task Management
  • Journal Entry
  • Transaction Matching
  • Account Reconciliation
  • Smart Close
  • Cash Application
  • AR Intelligence
  • Intercompany Hub
  • Variance Analysis
  • Compliance

These modules all interlink – they are not silos. The purpose of each module is self-explanatory from its name. However, we will look at one of the modules in greater detail.

BlackLine Task Management

BlackLine Task Management

The Task Management system is the central selling point of the BlackLine platform. The module enables the supervision of duties to be left to the BlackLine system, enabling executives to get at-a-glance progress reports and ensure that timelines and deadlines are being kept to.

This service is a cross between a project management Gantt chart and a batch script. The user first defines tasks on a calendar and then details the dependencies for that task. Tak definition allows for automatic feedback from other BlackLine modules or from third-party tools to indicate progression.

The status reports on each task enable accounting executives to track progress on all work that needs to be completed for closing.

BlackLine accounting process automation

BlackLine accounting process automation

While the Task Management module will convince executives with the final say over purchasing that BlackLine is worth using, the accounting process automation will appeal to your staff. BlackLine reduces the risk of transposition error and takes over repetitive and boring tasks to help the accounting workload run smoothly.

The system uses orchestration to pull in data automatically and pass it between modules to generate journal entries, perform matching, validate, and then post entries. This automation relieves the pressure that always gets placed on accounts clerks and bookkeepers at month-end when a flood of transactions suddenly get pushed through and need to be accurately validated and transferred into the books.

BlackLine details

BlackLine is a cloud-based service, so you don’t have to install the software on your servers. This removes a lot of IT management duties from your business, saving money. The prices for the BlackLine system are not published. Your best way to get an insight into how the system works is to request a demo.

Alternatives to BlackLine

BlackLine is an impressive finance process automation platform and it is constantly adding on new functions. The company has an impressive client list that includes Coca-Cola, Zendesk, Western Union, Hyatt, and eBay. The company serves more than 315,000 users in 130 countries.

Although BlackLine is a good choice, it is always a good idea to assess several options before deciding on a new IT system. Here are some competitors to BlackLine that you should consider for comparison.

  1. Oracle Enterprise Performance Management (EPM): Best alternative to BlackLine for large organizations. Oracle has been in the ERP business for decades and its accounting system has been perfected for large organizations.
  2. FloQast: Best alternative to BlackLine for close management. If closing is a stressful event for you each month, this package will solve your problems.
  3. Redwood Finance Automation: Best alternative to BlackLine all-rounder. This is an orchestration system that will tie together your existing software packages.
  4. Oracle NetSuite: Best alternative to BlackLine for medium-size businesses. This smaller package is a better alternative to Oracle EPM for all but the largest of businesses.
  5. Dolibarr: Best alternative to BlackLine that is free to use. This comprehensive ERP also has modules for CRM, HR, and website management – all for free.
  6. Intuit QuickBooks: Best alternative to BlackLine for small businesses. If you do your accounts, this system relates to the terms you understand, so you don’t need accountancy training to use it.

What we look for in the best alternative to BlackLine

When coming up with our list of the best alternatives to BlackLine, we looked for software based on the following criteria:

  • Target market – Businesses of different sizes have different requirements from account software so we made sure to include a range of BlackLine alternatives, providing at least one option for each business type.
  • Features – BlackLine is a platform that is divided into modules that work with each other; we looked for packages with the same architecture
  • Integrations – BlackLine can coordinate with external systems to gather and forward key data; every candidate on our list has that capability.
  • Security – Accounting data needs to be kept secure both at rest and in motion; access to the system should be controlled by individual user accounts for action tracking.

Different businesses have different needs from their accounting system, so rather than compiling a list of the universally best alternatives to BlackLine, we looked for the best package for each scenario. In most cases, these accounting packages will provide a better service to specific types of business. You can read more about each of these systems in the following sections.

1. Oracle Enterprise Performance Management (EPM)

Website Oracle Fusion
Free Trial Demo

The best alternative to BlackLine for large organizations

Oracle was one of the first providers of ERP systems. The leader in the field is SAP. However, Oracle’s ERP system is more flexible and adaptable. This makes it easier for workforces to accept because it can be tailored a little to the business’s current working practices. However, this system does impose a structure on your process flows, so it does require user training.

The Oracle system will give your business a reputable working system that flows data from one process to another. A lot of the data entry tasks are taken care of and it includes approval workflows and anti-fraud checks.

You won’t have any problems finding lost transactions when it comes to period close because all of the working data of the organization is already there in the system. This also means that period close is a deadline that forces every team member to get work done in time.

Things we liked:

  • Enforces a process structure
  • Generates journal entries from regular business activity records
  • Provides easy visibility for work supervision
  • Secure system with user accounts and roles that restricts access to data
  • Can account for different accounting regulations in different countries

Things we didn’t like:

  • Requires expertise in-house to manage
  • Takes a lot of work to set up
  • Requires user training

2. FloQast

Website FloQast
Free Trial Demo

The best alternative to BlackLine for close management

This cloud-based system is easy to set up and use. You create specific roles and assign them to user accounts and then each team member gets task schedules. All of this ensures that everyone has deadlines to work to, so you are not up until 2:00 AM at period close trying to work everything out at the last minute.

The FloQast system has strong connection security between each endpoint and the SaaS server, so it is not difficult to let employees switch to working from home. The tool has a bright and appealing screen layout that includes reminders and goals for each day. Everyone knows what is expected from them to get the day’s work done and data is automatically flowed through to the final accounts.

Things we liked:

  • Good for remote workers
  • Provides each staff member with reminders and goals
  • Automatic data flow
  • Connection security
  • Compiles journal entries automatically

Things we didn’t like:

  • No free trial
  • No price list

3. Redwood Finance Automation

Website Redwood
Free Trial Demo

The best alternative to BlackLine overall

Redwood Finance Automation is a really good choice if you have to deal with accounting staff who are resistant to change. People get nervous when their working practices get updated and try to sabotage the project. With Redwood, this resistance is less likely because it connects the systems that you already use.

One of the major incentives to introducing automation is to reduce staff costs, which could mean redundancies and employees know that. However, you also need to eliminate human data entry errors that frequently arise when transferring data from one system to another. Redwood works as an orchestration system, which is all about automating those data flows.

The Redwood system is very easy to set up and use. It is an online package, so you don’t need to install any software. You then create a workload, which is done by assembling a chart that shows each process and how they link together. Each process needs further definition, which means stating which package performs that task, which other process it gets its data from, and which other system it sends data to.

Once you have the Redwood Finance Automation system running, you will have more time to decide how to benefit from its efficiency. The system will relieve an understaffed Accounts Department and allow your team to focus on new projects, such as cost analysis.

Redwood Finance Automation can also help you with reporting and fraud detection. With firefighting over errors eradicated from your daily schedule, you will be able to manage finances rather than crises.

Things we liked:

  • No software to install
  • Using the system just requires you to set out your process flows
  • Doesn’t require employee retraining
  • Includes fixed assets accounting
  • Also offers inventory accounting matching

Things we didn’t like:

  • No free trial
  • No use if you want a completely new system

GREAT ALTERNATIVE TO BLACKLINE: Redwood Finance Automation. This package doesn’t disrupt your existing working practices, it just eradicates the transposition errors. As well as tying together your existing software, it gives you a way to properly define the processes your department performs to operate efficiently.

4. Oracle NetSuite ERP

Best alternative to BlackLine for medium-sized businesses

Oracle’s EPM system is only suitable for large organizations; everyone else should look at NetSuite ERP instead. This service is based in the cloud and so you don’t need to install or maintain software. You create individual accounts for each user and senior roles can see what employees have been doing. All activities are logged, so it is easy to spot fraud and roll back mistakes.

The NetSuite system requires all business activities to be entered into the system for approvals to be made and documents to be generated. Thus, when it comes to period close or end-of-year reporting, all of the business activity data is already in the system. NetSuite flows this information through automatically to create your journal entries and generate your accounts.

Things we liked:

  • Helps run any business
  • Automatic journal entries
  • Easy period close
  • Automatic financial reporting
  • Staff supervision funcitons

Things we didn’t like:

  • No free trial
  • No price list

5. Dolibarr

Website Dolibarr
Price from Free/mo

The best alternative to BlackLine that is free to use

Dolibarr is a very comprehensive business process system that is free to use. Although free stuff usually looks amateurish or is a cut-down version of a paid system, Dolibarr only has a free version and it is just as good as any expensive ERP. The organization also produces HR, CRM, and Web management modules.

Dolibarr is on-premises software that installs on Windows or Linux. This means you will need expertise in running a server to use the package. It should also be possible to install the software on Linux-based cloud platforms, such as AWS if you want to run the system off-site. You can set up individual user accounts and assign roles to each.

The administrator menu allows you to set up individual accounts for users and assign roles. This presets the menus and screen availability for each employee.

The system supports purchasing, inventory, sales, payments, and collections and if you use it for your business processes, it will flow data through to generate journal entries and create your accounts.

Things we liked:

  • Free to use
  • Professional looking and comprehensive
  • User roles
  • Includes business management software as well as an accounting package
  • Can run your entire business

Things we didn’t like:

  • No cloud SaaS package

6. Intuit QuickBooks

Price from $25.00/mo
Free Trial 30 Days

The best alternative to BlackLine for small businesses

If you run your own business as a sole trader or small partnership, you won’t have daily access to an accountant and you will expect to create your accounts yourself – possibly with the use of an accountancy service at the end of the year. If this is the case, then the accounting terminology and tasks built into most accounting packages will completely mystify you.

Intuit QuickBooks is designed for small business owners who have no idea about accounting but just need to get their books done somehow. This system is structured in ways you will understand. There are places where you enter details of your purchases and the invoices you receive and you can even manage your stock and create sales orders and invoices in the systems. It will generate your accounts for you.

Intuit QuickBooks is offered in four plans, which range from a system that is suitable for independent consultants up to a plan that includes full inventory and shipping management.

Things we liked:

  • Structure for real people, not accountants
  • Wizards and guide videos
  • Accessible through mobile apps
  • Hosted on the cloud
  • Four plan levels

Things we didn’t like:

  • Not suitable for businesses that employ more than 20 people