Establishing standardized multi-entity reporting processes for The Kraft Heinz Company
- Manual statutory reporting processes were taking up too much time and leading to inconsistent output
- Lack of standardization and transparency throughout the process led to confusion and damaged confidence
- They didn’t have a quick, easy, and secure way to review translated versions of the report
- The Workiva platform has delivered a standardized process, saving the reporting team a lot of time, increasing data consistency, and improving the overall output
- Review is now much simpler—reviewers have oversight of all data, can see data lineage, and reporters are able to confidently and quickly respond to any questions
- The Workiva platform’s inbuilt translation capabilities have facilitated greater collaboration with globally distributed teams
Why They Chose Workiva
- Statutory Reporting
The Kraft Heinz Company is known and trusted across the globe as a producer of high-quality, great-tasting, and nutritious food and beverages. As a global powerhouse with 187 separate entities outside of the United States, it also has to produce a lot of corporate reports.
For Financial Reporting Manager Luke Templeman, who manages financial reporting, month close, and financial statements for holding companies within Europe as well as assisting the firm’s Middle Eastern and Latin American arms with their annual local statutory reports, these are tasks that need both precision and efficiency. With little room for error, and with an imperative to maintain consistency in financial statement presentation across all local annual reports, leadership knew that they needed to introduce standardized practices across all of its entities' financial reports.
“When you look at our financial statements before Workiva, they would all look different and all have different notes,” shared Luke. “As an example, we were producing individual statutory reports for our multiple UK GAAP financial statements and none of them had the same formatting, look, and feel. We put a lot of work into ensuring data accuracy and compliance to local reporting regulations, so it was frustrating from both management review and reporting standpoints that we weren’t able to deliver a consistent output to our various stakeholders.”
With the Workiva platform already implemented in the Kraft Heinz Company’s U.S.-based divisions, and following positive experiences with Workiva while working within previous roles, Luke and his manager felt confident that the platform would enable standardization and help ease the preparation and management review processes.
For Luke, the previous annual statutory reporting processes within the Kraft Heinz Company were too manual and time-consuming.
“For each annual report, we were working off multiple spreadsheets and then pasting that information into separate documents. With many stakeholders in multiple locations involved in each report, that was a lot of manual work. We could have input from Brazil, then additions from Dubai, and end up with a number of random adjustments that needed to be made. We had to copy and paste tables, review, and check the wording every time new information was provided. And, if there were edits that needed to be made, these needed to be painstakingly updated across all spreadsheets and documents.”
Sifting through masses of information and documents also caused complications for the company’s controllers and VPs during the review process.
“When you’re a controller and you’re going through seemingly endless sets of financial statements from everywhere, it’s inevitable that you’ll have to ask some questions. There were always multiple instances where we were asked, ‘What have you done here?’ or ‘What is this?’ Since the annual reporting format was not standardized, it felt like we needed to read the preparer’s mind to understand their logic behind the preparation. Ultimately, it was difficult for me to know that the data provided by my colleagues across our entities was correct without putting in a lot of work myself.”
Another element of the review process that was causing problems was translation.
“In Brazil, they need to review in Portuguese. In Chile, Spanish. France, French. Each report needed to be translated prior to review so that we could get in-depth insight to the notes. There wasn’t a quick, easy, and secure way to do this.”
How the Kraft Heinz Company established standardization and consistency
The team has been able to resolve many of the issues within their local statutory reporting process by using the Workiva platform. The way that it addresses their main issue—lack of standardization—is a stand out for Luke.
“At our scale, reporting processes shouldn’t be ad hoc. We’ve found a great standardizer with the Workiva platform. The hours that I used to spend trying to format information have now vanished. Now, when I create and format a table, I know that it’s going to be uniform and look professional across all materials. Personally, that has saved me a lot of time.”
The Workiva platform has also proved invaluable for ensuring data consistency.
“Because we take advantage of the Workiva platform’s linking functionality, when I go to update numbers or copy and hit publish, it’s reassuring to know that these changes are immediately updated across our financial statements. In my mind, that saves so much time. It means that we won’t accidentally skip past numbers and that, when we submit for external audit review, we are much more comfortable with the data.”
It has also transformed the organization’s review process, saving higher-ups within the company from having to sort through reams of data.
“The VPs find it very easy to go in and review financial statements on the platform. They don’t go into all of the detail, but why should they? They want to have a high-level view of all numbers and give a quick assessment about whether it makes sense, which is what they do very successfully with the Workiva platform. And, from my perspective, when they ask me questions or flag anything for review, I’m confident in my responses and can get back to them quickly because I have oversight of all information.”
Ease of review has been further helped by the platform’s built-in translation functionalities.
“The language translation that we get is never going to be the same quality as if a native speaker handles it. But, during review, that isn’t a priority. What is a priority is being able to gain rapid feedback from our colleagues in non-English speaking territories. The translation tool has made it much easier to review and has been proven to help us gain deeper insight during review. It’s another way that we now have more control over the entire end-to-end process and another example of improved standardization that has been beneficial across the board.”
And the platform has played a key role in ensuring compliance. When the European Single Electronic Filing (ESEF) requirements became mandatory in early 2022, the team didn’t have to worry about wrangling with its XBRL® tagging.
“The tax manager let out a sigh of relief when he saw how he could apply XBRL tags with Workiva. It was so smooth and so easy!”
Their advice? Trust the process
It’s worth noting that the Kraft Heinz Company in Europe is just at the start of its journey with Workiva, which means that the team is still working on its transition from using spreadsheets and documents for annual reporting activities. For some, change isn’t easy. But Luke has advice for other multi-national organizations to consider during the early stages of adoption.
“As a company, we’re very innovative and work at a fast pace. But as controllers, by nature, we always question why change is necessary when, in previous years, the end reports were delivered on time. If you experience hesitation, I would say that you just have to get into the tool. Use it. Get used to it. It’s only by doing that and by making it your own that you’ll get more confident, get more comfortable, and be able to work quicker.”
Owing to the early successes that Luke has experienced with the platform, and the support that he’s received from Workiva, he’s looking to expand its use within the organization.
“The team at Workiva has consistently gone above and beyond for us. We’ve developed a strong relationship that I’m confident will deliver value as we continue our journey toward full standardization across more territories.”
As work continues on that journey, Luke’s focused on his next goal: to help all of his colleagues to enjoy the same time savings that he’s experienced with the Workiva platform.
“Using Workiva, my interim financial reporting took me about two to three hours to roll forward whereas, before, it could have taken me a day or two. It was very, very quick. As more people get comfortable with using the platform, we’re hoping that we’ll be able to gain back significant time.”