Unprecedented 35 Departments at Black Hills Collaborate Utilizing Wdesk

September 15, 2011
Company Saves 300 Hours Preparing 10-K For years SEC reporting has been a piecemeal process—and a major headache for companies large and small. Reporting teams create worksheets in one software program then grapple with meshing those tables into different programs. Review procedures vary from multiple rounds of pen and ink mark-ups to gathering all stakeholders around a table for a tedious page-by-page analysis. Then companies pay tens of thousands of dollars for outsourcing services that convert and file SEC reports, and even more for "bolt-on" programs that handle new XBRL requirements. Mary Anne Wingert was doing all of those things in her role as Senior Manager of Financial Reporting at Black Hills Corporation, a diversified energy company based in Rapid City, S.D. She wasn't alone. With multiple regulated utilities with customers in seven states, several non-regulated power generation facilities and energy marketing operations in two countries, dozens of departments throughout Black Hills Corp. file reams of complex financial reports every quarter. The company needed a comprehensive approach to report development and filing. Ironically, it was yet another government requirement that spurred the company to find a solution: Wdesk External Reporting Solution. Almost a year ahead of the SEC's mandate that Black Hills Corp. start XBRL tagging, Wingert purchased a XBRL "bolt-on" program to the company's EDGARizing software. She allowed plenty of lead time to incorporate the program because she wanted to be prepared and comfortable with it well before the filing deadline. However, implementation of the software went poorly and Wingert soon became concerned that the company would miss its filing deadline if it continued using the product. A Streamlined Solution That's when Wingert saw a Wdesk demonstration. The advantages of the comprehensive solution—well beyond its powerful XBRL tagging applications—were evident immediately. "My initial response was that if Wdesk can do what you say can it can do, we'll take it," says Wingert. With only a short training session Wingert and her financial reporting team were using the External Reporting Solution to develop and file 2010 second quarter SEC reports with XBRL tags. "Just by using the 'Help' function, I was able to do most of the XBRL tagging on my own and it was really easy," comments Wingert. She was able to conduct a test filing—complete with XBRL tags—using the application within two months of purchasing the solution. Wdesk has completely replaced the team's arduous process. "Our previous system was very manual, very time-consuming, and very, very tedious," says Wingert. With Wdesk single document datamodel feature, seamless data linking, and robust review capabilities, Wingert and her team have saved 300 hours of time preparing the company's 10-K and slashed three days off the filing time. They use the time they've gained back to do other value-added projects for the company. Company-wide Use Wingert's team isn't the only one at Black Hills Corp. benefiting from Wdesk. Now, a year and a half after Black Hills Corp. transitioned to Wdesk, three departments use the application for report development and about 35 departments use it to review reports:
  • The Financial Reporting team uses it to create and file all SEC reports including 10-Qs, 10-Ks, and earnings release 8-Ks for two companies. More than 75 employees plus external auditors provide comments on these reports using Wdesk comment feature.
  • Investor Relations uses the solution to develop the Earnings Release.
  • The Treasury Department creates 11-K pension plan filings using Wdesk.
  • One subsidiary, Enserco, uses Wdesk to prepare its financial statements while Wingert's team uses it to prepare four other subsidiary financial statements.
  • The company used the correspondent document in Wdesk to reply to an SEC Comment Letter.
There's an added important benefit to using Wdesk for Black Hills Corp.—the program supports the company's independent streak and returns complete control over SEC report development and filing to the Black Hills team. "We are very self-sufficient and don't like to be told that we have to put our pencils down," says Wingert. "We like to do everything for ourselves…and Wdesk lets us do that."
Mike Sellberg

About the author

Mike Sellberg is Executive Vice President and Chief Product Officer at Workiva. He is the former EVP and CTO at iMed Studios and the former Divisional General Manager at Engineering Animation, Inc.