Meredith Corporation

Meredith Corporation was dealing with clumsy report development in one department and slow, outdated processes in another. Both were working long hours just to prepare their business reports. The company needed a comprehensive solution to manage their issues and streamline their work.
  • Stress-free transitions thanks to world-class customer support
  • Improved work-life balance
  • Increased confidence in document quality from enhanced validation processes

When Edwin Thomas Meredith launched Successful Farming magazine back in 1902, business deals were sealed with handshakes and companies expected good old-fashioned customer service from their business partners.

Times have changed, and Des Moines, Iowa-based Meredith Corporation has grown into a $1.4 billion media and marketing giant. But some things have remained the same, including the company’s expectation of excellent service from its trading partners. Luckily for Meredith, they’ve partnered with Workiva.

A Solution Right Next Door

Like many publicly traded companies, Meredith was in search of an easier, more effective way of creating its SEC reports. As luck would have it, the answer was just 35 miles away. Workiva, an Ames, Iowa-based company, was launching a comprehensive cloud-based platform that could streamline external report development and filing.

Alleviating Stresses

Wdesk is now integral to Meredith’s SEC reporting. “Our process is completely seamless and creating the reports is easy,” says Johnson. Between the one active document feature that allows multiple people to use the same file simultaneously, and integrated EDGARization and XBRL tagging, Meredith has eliminated a full day from its reporting timeline—not to mention a lot of headaches.

And now thanks to the one active document feature, “I don’t have that stress at all. I don’t have to make sure I’m available at a certain time, or stay late to do my piece of it so that the guy who arrives in the morning can hit the ground running. That’s the big deal for us,” says Alderman.

And with multiple years’ worth of history in the system, it’s easier to check something already filed, Alderman adds. “The first time or two, you feel like you have to check every number. But now we have the comfort level to just check the new things, rather than every piece of history.”

Alderman estimates that she’s freed up about 50 percent of her time, which she can devote to higher-level activities.

We all have more time to do quality control.

— Saralyn Alderman, Assistant Financial Analyst, Meredith Corporation

Reliable Documents

Even level 1 XBRL tagging wasn’t difficult for Johnson, Alderman and the Meredith team. “The solution is easy to understand and use, and it requires minimal training,” says Johnson. “Wdesk helped me get the XBRL nuances right. That was a large benefit.”

With Wdesk the quality of our documents has improved.

— Karen Johnson, Director of Financial Reporting, Meredith Corporation

A Higher Level of Service

When it came time for Meredith to proceed with detailed XBRL tagging on the company’s 10-K, Johnson turned to Workiva for support on the massive project.

The Meredith team opted to use the Workiva Professional Services for support. The service augments the Workiva regular customer success program, giving customers the additional support they need—whether it’s with XBRL tagging or handling unique reporting needs.

Professional Services customizes its assistance to match each customer’s needs and budget. Every member of the U.S.-based Professional Services team has an accounting or finance degree and many have CPA designations and extensive knowledge of SEC reporting.

Johnson and her team worked closely with their Professional Services expert during the detailed XBRL tagging process. “They are extremely knowledgeable and good to work with,” says Johnson. “Had we tried to do this level of XBRL tagging ourselves without Workiva, we would have failed.”

A Continuing Partnership

By using Wdesk, not only do Johnson and her team have more time to work on other projects, they don’t have to worry about mysterious updates to the platform either.

Johnson has even earned continuing professional education (CPE) credits for attending certain complimentary educational webinars from Workiva right at her desk. “I like that I can attend a webinar and can get credit for it too,” comments Johnson. “It’s a bonus and it really shows WebFiling’s customer service because offering credit isn’t something that they had to do.”

The customer service from Workiva is excellent and I always enjoy working with them.

— Karen Johnson, Director of Financial Reporting, Meredith Corporation

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Meredith’s SEC reporting team was enthusiastic about how Wdesk had streamlined its entire process. “Workiva customer service is beyond compare,” says Terry Rinker.

Everyone knows that change can be difficult. When you work in a high-stress environment like Corporate Governance, changing familiar processes and putting your trust in a new system can be practically overwhelming.

That was the challenge facing Terry Rinker, Senior Legal Assistant in Corporate Governance at Meredith Corporation, one of the leading media and marketing companies in the U.S. “I’m not very comfortable with change. I tend to stick with what I know,” she explains.

Among her many responsibilities is creating Section 16 reports for company officers and directors. But when the software firm that Meredith had been using to create those reports increased their rates, Meredith decided to find an alternative.

Rinker knew that Meredith had recently switched its SEC reporting over to Wdesk. So when she found out Section 16 reporting was also available, she decided to give it a chance. “I was very apprehensive,” admits Rinker.

Rinker was in charge of implementing the change. But thanks to the Workiva world-class Customer Success Team, she was able to switch without any issues. “The Workiva customer service is beyond compare,” says Rinker. “My Customer Success Manager walked me through the application. He was very reassuring and knowledgeable and offered anything I needed to get started.”

The Workiva customer service is beyond compare. My CSM walked me through the application. He was very reassuring and knowledgeable and offered anything I needed to get started.

— Terry Rinker, Senior Legal Assistant, Meredith Corporation

Despite her fears, Rinker says the switch to Wdesk has been nothing but positive. Before Wdesk it took her up to 90 minutes to produce a single report, and she had to create every report individually. “My time is very valuable,” she comments. “I have a highly stressful job so any time I can cut that stress it’s fantastic.”

Now with all of the forms and investor information stored on Wdesk, it takes just 10 minutes—at most—to create a Section 16 report. “Wdesk is a huge time saver! I love that the footnotes are already in there,” she adds. She uses the powerful Wdesk batch filing feature to create and file multiple reports at one time.

Rinker says the platform’s validation process gives her extra confidence in her reports because Wdesk double-checks the numbers throughout the document. In the end, Rinker says this change was a good one for her and the company. “I was afraid Wdesk would be difficult and I’d have trouble doing the filing. But that wasn’t the case at all. I would definitely recommend Wdesk!”

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