SmileDirectClub Realigns Risk and Future Growth, Saves $500,000 in Audit Fees
Before Workiva, his team "barely finished [their] work in time for the board meeting."
- Effortless remote work, making COVID-19 continuity a small hurdle
- Seamless interaction with team members via intuitive platform
- Eliminated external audit assistance, shaving $500,000 from his function's bottom line
Why They Chose Workiva
“I don't think Workiva has a peer as far as breadth of vision and technology and track record.”
Enterprise Risk Management, Internal Audit Management, Internal Controls Management, SOX Compliance
When it comes to compliance, it’s fair to say that David Gamble has seen a thing or two. With 20+ years of experience (right back to the start of SOX), he’s helped companies of all sizes surmount the regulation’s complex challenges.
It’s also fair to say that Workiva might be one of the keys to his personal success and the success of his organizations—most recently, SmileDirectClub. But David’s experience with the platform starts further back than that.
Stepping back to step forward
Back in 2014, David served as the director of SOX compliance at a Tennessee-based public power utility.
“I remember in the beginning days at the utility," said David, “we barely finished our work in time for the board meeting.” His processes were a veritable soup of software, with Microsoft Word®, Excel®, and PowerPoint® as the main, ill-functioning ingredients.
And then came Workiva. As one of the first customers using Workiva for SOX compliance, he saw the power, potential, and capabilities of the platform.
“The thing that I love about Workiva,” said David, “it automates much of the grunt work of auditing and allows you to do the thinking and the analyzing at a higher level.”
That same higher level thinking took David to become the Director of Risk and Advisory Services at SmileDirectClub in 2019, shortly before the company went public.
Workiva helps set the vision
As a pioneer in the doctor-directed at-home orthodontic industry, SmileDirectClub rewrote the rules on straightening smiles, going from zero to IPO (and 300 retail locations) in just five years. Accordingly, David got to pioneer his own compliance team. His grand, articulate vision—guided by the nearly endless capabilities of Workiva—even helped land him the role at SmileDirectClub.
“Because the company was growing so quickly, we anticipated that we would lose our emerging growth company status,” said David. “So, I told the CEO and the CFO and the COO, ‘We'll do whatever you want to do. But, if you want to give us the best chance of success, you're going to implement Workiva.’ That vision was the reason I got the job.”
Specifically, the vision that David foretold was one of remote work, financial savings, and management ease. It was about delivering on a roadmap and bringing the future dreams of compliance to today’s reality.
“Because of Workiva, we will be updating our SOX risk assessment three times this year. Once we get Wdata, we'll be able to update it in real time. That's unheard of in the audit world,” said David. “That's what we used to dream about when we would all go to audit conferences.”
Global teams, global solutions
As David and SmileDirectClub utilize a shared service center for compliance work, remote capabilities are a base requirement for the job. Living exclusively in the cloud, Workiva easily clears that hurdle, allowing David’s globally dispersed team to work in synchrony, no matter the situation.
“I have a team of three in Costa Rica, and we were able during the pandemic to do all of our audit testing with Workiva,” said David. “Were it not for this product, we could not have been able to do that at all.”
As an unexpected benefit, David’s team found themselves being much more engaged, thorough, and detailed in their work because it was simple to use.
“It's easy to add a footnote to the testing documentation, and then it's easy to put that into the audit report,” he said. “They find themselves doing things just because it's easy. There's no doubt that their satisfaction would've been much less if we had tried to do all that in Excel and Word and PowerPoint.”
There’s a glaring correlation between his team’s well-being, technology, and organizational success, says David, and Workiva connects the dots.
“I can't effectively manage and monitor risk without effective technology—that's the pace at which the world is changing,” he said. “My team is remote, and we’re able to seamlessly interact and work together and collaborate. That just wouldn't be possible without technology.”
$500,000 saved in audit fees
Team collaboration and engagement are great, but Workiva truly excels on the bottom line, said David.
Back at his previous role as the head of SOX at a utility company, Workiva was able to redeploy an entire FTE role in 2015. But today, the financial impact of Workiva is nothing short of incredible.
“Other than IT audit, we're really not going to utilize any external audit assistance. That's going to save the company about a half a million dollars in 2020,” David said, “and we would not have been able to do that without this tool.”
Much of the exponential growth in savings, he said, can be attributed to the pace at which Workiva has improved over the years. And, he added, “There are some pretty incredible things being planned. It is remarkable to see the functionality and the improvement that happens.”
“I don’t think Workiva has a peer”
The improvement of Workiva as a product stems directly from the company’s unique commitment to growth, David said, which isn’t found elsewhere in the industry.
“There were software platforms in the beginning of my career—they were number one, and they're gone. And in the middle of my career, there were software platforms that were number one, and they're gone. They didn't continue to invest, or management didn't have the commitment,” said David.
Which spells out an enormous lesson for organizations shopping for SOX, internal controls, or internal audit—you’ve got to look at the whole company, not just at the technology. The features and functionality of Workiva are immensely beneficial to SmileDirectClub, but knowing his vision will be safely carried through on the platform helps him rest easy.
“I'm telling you,” said David, “I don't think Workiva has a peer as far as breadth of vision and technology and track record.”
Word, Excel and PowerPoint are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.