WebFilings: A Revolution 25+ Years in the Making

CFO blog image
February 11, 2010

I am excited to be part of the founding team that has introduced Wdesk, a revolutionary solution which automates and improves the process for drafting, review and filing of external reports. My enthusiasm comes from more than 25 years of experience in various financial reporting roles.

While virtually every other area of our work lives has benefited from technology improvements over this time frame…the time consuming and tedious process of completing external reports has remained in the comparative dark ages.

Early in my career, I learned first-hand the tedious SEC report drafting process—ticking and tying, footing and cross-footing, drafting and proofing—and then doing it again on successive turns of the document. Since then, the introduction of word processors has allowed for faster turns of the document, and email facilitates instantaneous delivery of drafts to the review team and the army of lawyers, auditors, advisors, and consultants, but the process is still disjointed, linear, and back-loaded.

In 1990, while using a technical writing application that supported basic linking of elements in a document, the idea of building a dedicated SEC reporting solution first hit me. In later positions as a controller, CFO and founder of a consulting firm focused on financial reporting, I worked on dozens of SEC reports, and continued to experience the same pain points that were there in the early '80s. The documents have grown in size due to new disclosures and increased litigation risk, while the number of days to file have been reduced.

The EDGAR HTML conversion process takes a day or two, and the XBRL mandate puts additional pressure on meeting tight filing deadlines. “Pencils down two days early” was the message from the pundits at the recent XBRL US conference.

Additionally, auditors have stepped up their 10-Q review process, so more time needs to be baked in for that. The net result is that in the past 25 years, there has been no relief to the intense time pressure to complete SEC filings.

Enter WebFilings.

Two years ago, a group of talented colleagues came together and formed a company dedicated to building a revolutionary solution that addresses the pain points shared by every company with public reporting responsibilities. Several million lines of code later, WebFilings has released an application that I believe will fundamentally change the way that external reports are drafted and filed. Not only does Wdesk bring transparency and efficiency to the process but also reduces cycle and elapsed time, improves quality, and eliminates expensive outsourced services.

The financial/business metrics are compelling, but I am most touched by the human response to our solution - that someone understood their pain and built an easy-to-use solution which addressed it spot on.

Looking back 25+ years, I wish that my colleagues, customers and I could recover the incredible amount of time spent ticking and tying, footing and cross-footing, drafting and proofing—time that WebFilings is now positioned to save our customers.