Black Hills Corporation

Black Hills Corp. needed to find a comprehensive solution to streamline efforts in meeting its SEC and Investor Relations goals. The company had several departments throughout the organization creating and contributing to financial reports and needed a convenient way to manage them.
  • Four departments use the solution to develop reports
  • 35 departments use Wdesk to review reports
  • Move several types of reports into Wdesk
  • Gain better management over interrelated financial reports

Reams of documents. Rivers of red ink. Rounds of endless edits. That’s what Mary Anne Wingert faced each time she prepared financial reports for Black Hills Corporation, a 128-year old diversified energy company based in Rapid City, South Dakota. As the Senior Manager of Financial Reporting, Wingert is in charge of SEC reporting for the company.

SEC reporting is difficult enough for a firm with one line of business. Black Hills Corp. has multiple regulated utilities with customers in seven states; several non-regulated power generation facilities; oil & gas exploration and production; coal mining operations; and energy marketing operations in the U.S. and Canada. The complexity of Black Hills’ operations meant dozens of financial reports and a lot of work for Wingert and her team.

With so many subsidiaries and financial reporting requirements— including XBRL tagging— Black Hills Corp. needed to replace its manual SEC report development process with a comprehensive solution.

They found it with Wdesk.

Rapid Rollout

The Black Hills Corp. team recognized that Wdesk addressed many issues it faced in its SEC filing process and signed on in early 2010. After a short training session, the financial reporting team was using the platform to file the company’s Q2 SEC report — with XBRL tagging.

Wingert says using the solution paid off right away.

By using Wdesk we saved 300 hours of time preparing our 10-K and we shaved 2-3 days off our filing time.

— Mary Anne Wingert, Senior Manager of Financial Reporting, Black Hills Corp.

“We have enhanced confidence in our documents,” says Jerome Nichols, Director of Investor Relations and Corporate Communication. “The application helps us develop better, more professional messaging.”

With Wdesk we can spend more time on the content of the report as opposed to spending time on the process.

— Jeff Berzina, Vice President, Corporate Controller, Black Hills Corp.

In just nine months, Black Hills Corp. extended its use of Wdesk throughout the company. Now four departments use the platform for report development, and 35 of its departments use it to review reports. Besides standard SEC reports, the company uses Wdesk to prepare pension plan filings, earnings releases, as well as other financial reports relating to individual subsidiaries.

“From a global perspective, Wdesk is a single source that everybody uses. That really makes a big difference in the document,” says Jeff Berzina, Vice President, Corporate Controller. He adds that the company is evaluating ways to extend the use of the application. “We think there is potential for more areas to use the features that link spreadsheets and numbers between documents.”

Painless Changes

Wdesk gives users ultimate control of their documents right up to the filing deadline. Black Hills Corp. recently took advantage of that feature when the company needed to open its books for a journal entry late in the filing process.

“Before Wdesk, it was a lot more stressful when that happened,” says Berzina. With Wdesk, the team was able to make the change quickly. And thanks to the platform’s change once, update everywhere linking function, the number was automatically updated throughout the report. “With Wdesk it was pretty seamless. We were able to make a quick change and have comfort that the changes would flow throughout the document,” he says.

Because Black Hills Corp. uses the solution so extensively, Workiva asked for the company’s feedback on how the application could be improved. At first Berzina was skeptical that their input would result in any changes. But he was pleasantly surprised. “Everything we commented on appeared in the solution,” he says. “We appreciate that type of customer service, not just because it improves the usefulness of the application but because we feel we’re a part of developing it.”

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