An energy company that has become one of the world's leading renewable energy operators has been fueling growth with the help of about 80 financings for more than 200 energy projects. For every financing, the company creates annual lender presentations, monthly or quarterly operating reports, and financial reports—and the number of financings keeps growing.
"When I first got there, the audit season was crushing, and my team was just buried," said the firm's project accounting director, who joined the company in 2015.
At the time, partners from the company's three audit firms were writing footnotes independently, leading to multiple versions. People had different methods for rounding numbers, grouping data, wording disclosures, or titling information. Employees found themselves reconciling discrepancies in data, words, chart colors, and even between presentation slides and presentation scripts.
"You're dealing so much with style, formatting, and consistency that you're not spending time on the analytics," the project accounting director said, "and the analytics are really what these lenders care about. They care about whether or not their product is going to be able to make debt service. They care about whether there's some sort of defect in the equipment that's costing the project a lot of repair costs."
With Workiva, the energy firm was able to:
- Build templates to help standardize and streamline certain work
- Gain more control over who can edit, review, or comment on material
- Sync data into the connected reporting platform instead of importing it manually
- Automate the custom calculations as a check of the numbers
- Enable auditors to electronically enter comments and questions
An accounting project manager at the firm remembers once trying to decipher auditors' handwritten comments on PDFs. "In half of it, we couldn't even read what they wanted to say," she said.
With Workiva, users can enter comments and tag them to specific people. "It's instant. You see it, and you can respond. That was actually a huge time-saver for this year as well," she said.
Now, highly trained accounting and finance teams have more time to conduct valuable analyses during audit season.
"Historically, we just had to add people," the project accounting director said. "Now, because we're not in this wave of audits that are crushing our resources, each controller is able to support more financing.
"It lets the controllers, the regional controllers, and me really focus on being the financial stewards of those assets."