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Dean Foods Switches to Workiva for Internal Audit Management

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Disconnected Challenges

Dean Foods wanted a single solution to manage Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) compliance and internal audit, and they were disappointed with their existing internal audit tool.

Connected Results

  • Consistency and discipline in managing workpapers, workflow, approvals
  • Improved dashboarding capabilities
  • Ability to use a single cloud service provider for SOX and internal audit work

Solutions

Internal Audit Management

The internal audit team at Dean Foods had high hopes for new audit software suggested by its external professional services firm. David Joe, then the dairy company's Senior Audit Manager, remembers looking forward to upgrading from using a shared folder and a word processing document to manually manage workflow, communication, and collaboration. 

They also hoped to monitor tasks through dashboards instead of losing track of approvals and signoffs. Rather than remembering to email colleagues any time they updated anything, they were excited to house all the team's work in a single secure, transparent, connected platform. They also hoped the new software would bring consistency to their workpapers. 

Instead, the team found the outside firm's solution was a decent repository for documents but more frustrating than expected, David said. 

Meanwhile, Vice President of Audit and Risk Management Jo Harris wanted one solution that could handle both SOX compliance and internal audit management.

In the end, Dean Foods chose Workiva for not just SOX compliance and enterprise risk management (ERM) but also internal audit management—and SEC reporting, investor relations, internal reporting, and unexpected uses, like building a checklist for onboarding new employees.

"It just works how you would expect the tool to work," said David, who helped implement the Workiva internal audit management solution as a senior audit manager. He now leads the operations finance team at Dean Foods.

From legacy systems to scoping, testing, tracking, and reporting in the cloud

Several years ago, the internal audit team had no dedicated solution for doing their work. Instead, David's team was getting by with a shared folder and a word processing document they would pass around with comments.

The option recommended by the professional services firm was the first internal audit tool Dean Foods had ever had. It took about a year to fully implement, largely because it was not performing in the way the company wanted, David said. It was not intuitive, came with a lengthy user manual, and team members still had to email each other updates on their work.

However, internal colleagues who were using Workiva for SOX compliance were enjoying efficiency, consistency, and dashboarding. They saw a preview of the Workiva solution for internal audit management at the annual Workiva user conference and encouraged David's team to check it out. David also had heard good reviews from his social circles about using Workiva for tax and SEC reporting.

With the push to use a single program for both SOX and internal audit, Dean Foods switched and implemented Workiva for internal audit management within about eight weeks, David estimated.

Within a few months, David noticed several benefits of using Workiva:

  • Intuitive, easy-to-use interface
  • Single platform for managing all internal audit work
  • Customizable templates for consistency in workflow
  • Permission controls that make it easy to share only the information you want to share with others
  • Embedded comments tagged to specific people, who automatically receive an email alert
  • Real-time dashboards to track progress on tasks
  • Linking feature to automatically connect data from audit observations to final reports

"I definitely see Workiva as a giant leap forward from where we were before," David said.

The cloud solution is speedy, even for those logging in from home or one of the company's plants, David said, and the Workiva Customer Success team has been responsive. "That's another one of the really big benefits that I've seen from the move—not just the tool itself but the support that comes along with it," he said.

Teams within Dean Foods are continuing to examine how to maximize their use of Workiva solutions.

"There are lots of ways we can expand our use," David said. "The team is really excited for the journey."

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