Banking on Wdesk Data Collection

Gathering data, ensuring its accuracy, and managing updates was an unwieldy process. This financial institution chose to use Data Collection to streamline the process and improve accuracy.

Big company. Big challenges. Big headaches. That sums up the situation for the reporting team at one of the world’s largest financial institutions. Each quarter the team gathers data from hundreds of people in offices around the globe and feeds it into various reports that often run into hundreds of pages.

The team had already vastly improved the company's external reporting process by switching from outsourcing tasks to handling everything in-house using Wdesk for SEC reporting.

“Wdesk totally changed the way we do our work,” says the corporation’s vice president of SEC reporting. “We now control it ourselves and have total sight of what we’re doing from start to finish, versus having to rely on somebody else.”

But his team still faced challenges with the important step that comes right before developing the reports—collecting the data.

A global issue

Just for the company’s note for debt services, part of its quarterly SEC reports, the team had to collect data from 180 people in offices worldwide. To gather that information, emails were sent to each source every quarter. As the sources returned their numbers, the team would log the data into a spreadsheet and then roll up hundreds of numbers into a few data points for the report.

If a source changed a number—which was a regular occurrence—the reporting team had to update the spreadsheet, recalculate the aggregate, and change it on the report. Tracking who sent what and when was a headache. “It was a very manual process,” says the vice president.

Lightening the load

Once again, a solution from Workiva revolutionized the way the team worked. The financial corporation, a long-time Workiva client, was one of the first companies to try Wdesk Data Collection.

The solution takes the tedious, time-consuming work out of collecting data. Wdesk offers simple, intuitive features for requesting data from providers, and it links incoming information to the company’s workbook, a specific report, or presentation. Data providers can update numbers on the fly, automatically updating all linked files.

Data Collection can be used for any type of information that needs to be collected, aggregated, linked, and applied to a centralized file—from SEC and sustainability reports to management reports and investor presentations. “It doesn’t have to be financial information,” notes the vice president. “It can be numbers, it could be qualitative, or even narrative. It’s boundless. There are no limits for what this application can do.”

Plus, Data Collection adds a time stamp and detailed source information to every step in the process to reinforce accountability and aid in auditing. “It shows the data provider, his or her reviewer, and the times and days they all signed off,” explains the vice president. “It’s a one-stop shop for the entire timeline.”

Because the data is transmitted via the cloud-based Wdesk platform—versus multitudes of emails that can easily be misdirected, intercepted, or deleted—it remains secure.

A meaningful addition

Thanks to Wdesk, the financial corporation’s reporting team has slashed about 20 hours of work per person, per week from the reporting period. Now that team isn't dependent on outside vendors, it has a more nimble reporting process and can produce reports more quickly and file earlier.

“Data Collection is great for workflow management,” comments the vice president. “It allows us to have a 360-degree view of our workflow and work stream, versus having to rely on external vendors. And Wdesk is less expensive than our previous reporting vendor.”

He says the addition of Data Collection to the existing platform is a perfect example of what makes it so valuable. “The beauty of Wdesk is that we have a contract for a certain amount of time. Other solutions have infrastructure, like hardware and servers, that gets old and needs to be replaced. Wdesk is an ongoing application that we’re running.”

The vice president expects to expand the use of Data Collection and could ultimately have 800 people in offices around the globe using the platform to feed data into the reporting system. “It’s just a phenomenal application, and we’ll be using it for years to come. It will totally change the way we do our work.”

He says that Wdesk has also made the reporting team’s job more meaningful. “We now have more time to really do our job, to step back and be analysts again, versus just managing data.”

He adds that there’s no going back. “One of my coworkers and I agree—if we ever go to work for another company, the first thing we’ll ask after salary is ‘Do you have Wdesk?’ If not, we’re not going to work for them.”

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