Brown-Forman Saves 13 Hours Per Month on Board of Directors Report



I worked for the chief accounting officer for two years and helped with some of the review process of using the external reporting tool. At the same time, I also had responsibility over our board of directors report, compiling all of that together, working with all of the different content providers. I thought that there could be a lot of synergies involved with coming up with a modern process of let’s have all this in one place rather than segment it off in PowerPoint®, PDF even, Excel®, Word®—create a central place for all for this to be housed.

That was the plan, and that’s the way we started, thinking what the end goal was. To get there, we worked with investor relations, production, IT, and different areas to start to figure out how to adopt this tool. Really, it was just about coming up with a modern process for our internal reporting, make it easier so we could spend more time analyzing things rather than compiling.

When I took that over, it was actually not a single report that was editable. You had multiple parts, an executive summary that was its own document, you had your P&Ls and balance sheet in a separate document, you had the back of the report, which we call key metrics, was its own document. In order to edit a certain section you actually had to go into that individual document, edit it, save it, recompile it all into a PDF, and that was the process. If there was a small word change, you had to do that. It was painful to say the least, and using this tool, we were able to kind of cut that time, which took about 15 hours a month compiling and just kind of doing non-value added work to under two hours a month just compiling.

We hear feedback from the chief accounting officer, who really likes the look and feel of the report. You hear it from contributors who don’t have to mess with formatting. Then, also the compilers of the world don’t have to worry about combining multiple file types and wondering if one of those pages is Arial and the other one is Times New Roman. It is all a consistent format. Wdesk definitely drove the organization towards a modern process within the board of directors report. If you were to look at one from three years ago or four years ago at this point to now, you could see so many inconsistencies before, and now it’s a better quality document. It’s more detailed and it’s easier to follow. From that perspective it has been a huge win.

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