Simplifying the CAFR Process for a Major U.S. City


  • Prior to Wdesk, the city's team of five used a combination of Microsoft® Word and Excel to assemble the CAFR. There were many documents that needed to be managed and merged during this process.
  • Moving back and forth between documents and spreadsheets was time-consuming and tedious.
  • It was difficult to get consistency within the spreadsheet files, and numerous people working on multiple documents caused small inconsistencies throughout the CAFR.
  • Formatting was problematic when tables were placed within the text document.
  • When changes were made to the financial statements, the team was forced to spend time manually updating every file within the report that was affected.
  • Making auditor changes was especially challenging because the team had to recompile everything and start over after the entire document was already formatted.
  • The team looked at several traditional options to meet its needs, but those options only put data from the ERP into a better format.

How Wdesk works for this major U.S. city

  • To get started, a Workiva Customer Success Manager transferred the city's previous CAFR documents to Wdesk.
  • The team now works from a single workbook and CAFR document—it no longer has to switch between multiple documents and programs.
  • The team pulls data from the city's financial system and imports it into Wdesk, removing the need for manual entry.
  • All team members work in the report at the same time on the same version, eliminating the small inconsistencies within the report.
  • When a number changes, instead of searching for every instance of that number, it's updated in one place and the rest of the numbers automatically update.


  • With the CAFR now in Wdesk, the team expects to take a couple weeks worth of hours off the next cycle.
  • Wdesk helps the team compile the CAFR more efficiently, making it ready for the auditors much sooner.
  • Because tables are easy to edit in Wdesk, the team spends less time on formatting.
  • Linking numbers across narrative and tables has improved accuracy and saved time.
  • In the future, the team plans to use Wdesk for all the reports it's responsible for, including the popular annual financial report, civic improvement corporation financial report, monthly financial report, and two joint venture reports.
  • The unique approach that Wdesk uses to simplify the compilation and reporting process won the team over. It went from a disjointed process with formatting issues, many files, and multiple programs to a comprehensive process with Wdesk.

Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals. Microsoft Excel and Word are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.

Read More