Connecting Data Across Financials, MD&A, and Press Releases
Limitations to traditional office software forced the reporting team to make manual adjustments to data, including tedious ticking and tying and time-consuming side-by-side reviews.
- Astronomical time-savings with faster reporting readiness
- Increased data integrity and assurance in the numbers reported
- More hours to focus on reviews and value-added activities
Why They Chose Workiva
- Automated data refreshes enable updated numbers to flow throughout documents with push of a button
- Intuitive interface and workflow significantly shortened the learning curve
- Built-in validation checker helps ensure data integrity and accuracy
- SEC Reporting
- SEDAR Reporting
This online gaming company created an environment where millions of customers can play their favorite poker games virtually every day. However, when it came to their regulated reporting, the organization was still very much mired in a world of manual processes.
"The keyword would be 'manual,'" said the company's senior financial analyst of external reporting.
"The whole process from syncing the data into the system, making changes, and doing the ticking and tying was very manual, because when you synced the data from Excel® to Word®, it only applied to the tables," he said.
That meant the problem got worse the further you went into the report, explained the analyst.
"For the MD&A, variances in any of the discussions would have been done manually. We would have to calculate what the change was from the prior year, what the percentage change was, and whether it was an increase or decrease. If any data was on the financial statement and MD&A, that would require a manual check. We would print off two versions and put them side by side and just tick and tie that way."
"These things are time-consuming," he said. But that all changed when the company moved their reporting to the Workiva connected platform. "When we transferred over to Workiva, a lot of these things were able to be automated."
Connected data saves time, adds value
It didn't take long for the analyst to embrace the idea of a connected reporting process. "As soon as I heard 'data rounding,' I was like, 'I'm sold,'" he said.
Rounding was a particular pain point of the previous disconnected process, according to the analyst.
"I would do all the roundings, we would submit a copy draft to the CFO, and then deliver the next draft two days later when the adjusting entries come in. We would have to re-round and refresh everything. It was a whole day's worth of manual process where we had to delete all the rounding plugs and re-add and then re-plug in. It was a nightmare."
He explained why connected data made the difference: "When data gets pulled from our GL, it comes in as rounded numbers. What we had before would feed into the tables as unrounded numbers. We had to go in manually and do the down adds and cross adds and make sure everything was fine. Then, that would be synced into the Word document. What Workiva helped us do is build a rounder page before that, like a filtration, almost. So, once we refresh the data, it is automatically rounded into tables and ready to go."
Not only does connected data save time, it prevents embarrassing inconsistencies. For example, the analyst cited the improvements in the MD&A definitions that the legal team makes changes to at the last minute.
"Being able to link that into the financial statement so that we catch any wording changes—we didn't have that before. We don't have to compare the wording of the definitions, accounting policies, and stuff like that anymore," he said. "Having linking and data consistency built in is a big, big help."
"We can save a lot more time and shift our focus into doing reviews and other value-added things."
Unlike some technology upgrades, the organization's switch to Workiva went without a hitch.
"When we moved to Workiva, I thought it was going to be a daunting process. But then it ended up going smoothly," said the analyst.
"It was painless because we had a great CSM (Customer Success Manager) who helped us out. They were able to answer all the questions that we had on the technical side. And, because there was so much pre-work, when it went live and we started flowing numbers through, we understood what needed to be done."
Adoption of the Workiva platform went quickly, according to the analyst. "I think we had two training sessions to go through how to file and how the documents were interlinked," he said. "A lot of it is intuitive."
Night and day difference in data integrity
Looking back, the analyst recalls the challenges of pulling data straight from the general ledger for their reporting. "There'd be little kinks—things don't down add well, things didn't tie because of rounding. It was a lot more manual, and you didn't have as much faith in your data. There was a lot of work to get comfortable with the data."
"With Workiva, we hit refresh to get the numbers from the GL, sync up the documents, check the validation, and see that this number appears three times—in press releases, MD&A, and financial statements—and they're all the same, and they're all rounded. Just that data integrity gives you so much more comfort over numbers," he said. "You're ready to go way faster."
The senior financial analyst recommends Workiva to anyone looking to improve upon manual reporting processes. "The amount of time that you could save is astronomical. These are the things that you don't think about until you have in front of you, and you're like, 'Wow, it's day and night difference.'"