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7 Tips to Simplify Your Legal Entity Reporting Software Purchase

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Hand holding a laptop
October 14, 2020

You and your team know you need to improve your legal entity reporting process. But, purchasing and implementing new software can be a bit daunting, especially if you have never done it before. 

As solution engineers at Workiva, we have helped many organizations through this exact process. And, it can be easier than you think—if you have the right guidance. That's where we come in.

We’ve put together these tips—which we learned from working with multinationals who were in the same position as you—to help simplify this process.

1. Start the conversation early

Identify the key stakeholders and decision-makers in the process, and start the dialogue with them as soon as possible to reduce the odds of running into major barriers down the road.

By starting the dialogue early, you can also ensure that budget is available for your software purchase—otherwise, you may be forced to wait until the next cycle when funding becomes available.

It’s also important to get your IT and security people involved early on as well. This will provide them with the time to carry out their checks and get their questions answered without causing delays at inopportune times.

By starting early, you will have the time to outline the challenges you're facing and set clear objectives that you want to achieve with your new software.

And, you can stay ahead of the game by asking your vendor to provide an example of their legal contract, so your legal team can already review the language, instead of leaving this to the end.

2. Make your case

You likely already have the support of your manager since they are aware of the challenges you face, but you should also find an executive sponsor to help make sure the leadership team is behind your decision to make a change. 

The important part of obtaining executive support for any software purchase is demonstrating the business value. This means not only looking at how much it will cost to bring in a solution, but also how much it will benefit your organization. Work with your vendor as they can help lay out the tangible benefits that your new software can deliver to your company—such as the amount of time and money you can save, which could be redirected to other value-added initiatives.

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Take the legal entity reporting survey

 

3. Consider other technology projects at your company

As you are engaging stakeholders early on, make sure to speak with management and other departments about technology projects going on in your company. There may be an opportunity to find synergies with these projects, which will make your business case even stronger. After all, it's better to bring multiple teams together in one platform, instead of using disparate systems that don’t work together.
 
Make sure the software you're considering is a cloud-based platform, as this will put you in a strong position to manage the new demand for remote working in large numbers. Cloud solutions offer the flexibility to integrate with existing technology you may use now or are planning to use in the future. Software that offers this flexibility means you don’t need to hold back on any projects while you wait for other initiatives to take shape, such as an ERP transformation.

4. Own the project

You need to have a person dedicated to this project to help get it over the line. This is especially true for large deals because it can be much more of a struggle if there is someone leading the way who is not 100% focused on the project.

This person may be a project manager, for example. Regardless who this person is, they should own the project, understand why the project exists, and know what you are hoping to accomplish.

5. Get everyone on board

It can be frustrating when you're sitting in your office halfway around the world from the person who made the decision to change processes, and you didn’t know anything about it. Make sure you communicate and get those who actually use the software on a day-to-day basis on board.

Earlier this year, we worked with one customer who was in the final stages of choosing their global statutory reporting software. They brought together over 30 regional heads from around the world for a meeting at their headquarters with Workiva. All of these people had a chance to see a demo, ask questions, and be involved. This provided confidence in the project and secured their buy-in, which will also help make the transition much smoother.

6. Ask a lot of questions

When meeting with vendors, be open. Think about the challenges you're experiencing and the goals you want to achieve, and ask as many questions as possible. 

Make sure everything you wanted to know is covered—including the vendor’s partner network. 

Open communication is key to ensuring that the demos you see are speaking to your challenges and that you have all the information you need to make the best decision for your organization.

7. Understand the deployment and training plans and support model

As accountants, we know how it feels to leave our comfort zone—we’re not big fans of it! So, make sure you understand what the transition phase will look like when you implement your new software.

Have conversations with your vendor about the training plan, and ask them how they can make sure the training is relevant to you—for example, by training you in the run-up to your filing so you have time to practice and get familiar with the software, and then actually putting that training to use.

Discuss what the deployment plan will look like, who is responsible for what, and how you will measure key milestones. Talk with your vendor about how they'll engage with you throughout the deployment process to discuss the progress you are making.

Also, ask questions about the vendor’s support model. Will you have a dedicated customer success manager, or is there a standard help line you must dial if you need support? This can make a big difference in those times when you're running up against a tight deadline and need assistance. Make sure there are no surprises and you know exactly what to expect.

Make a difference

The process of purchasing and implementing new legal entity reporting software should be exciting!

Think about all those late nights and the huge pile of pizza boxes accumulated by the end of your reporting process. Now, think about switching off your laptop at 5:00 p.m. and enjoying dinner with your family instead—no more late nights and no more empty pizza boxes. (Unless it’s pizza night at home, of course!)

This is exactly the kind of difference that's possible when you transform your reporting process. By following these tips, we hope that it will make your journey as sweet as the destination.

If you need any help along the way, don’t hesitate to reach out.

About the Author

Iain is an ACCA qualified accountant with over 12 years of experience in accounting and tax advisory, together with technology and transformation experience with EY.

He is a solution engineer at Workiva for the company's global statutory reporting and tax reporting solutions. As a solution engineer, Iain spends time with potential clients understanding their finance and tax processes, and from that, shares best practices and demonstrates how the Workiva platform could be applied to improve the way they work.

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