At a global medical devices company, innovation, ethics, and compliance are paramount as employees focus on enhancing outcomes for patients and their caregivers. The company's high standards extend to the attention paid to preparing timely, accurate regulatory filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
In recent years, the company has adopted Workiva cloud solutions to connect people, financial reporting processes, and data across its international operations for efficient reporting.
Before adopting Workiva, the company's manager of financial reporting remembers long hours spent creating and reviewing 10-Qs using desktop-based office software. Only one person could update a document at a time—to avoid issues with version control—so everyone waited their turn before working on their contribution. Staff would work on it until 8:00 p.m. before a filing deadline, a senior team member would review it until 11:00 p.m., and the manager was stuck looking at it until 3:00 a.m.
"I was getting a bit frustrated with the process," the manager said. She wanted to give her team better working hours and still deliver data that the company's disclosure committee could trust, even when a late journal entry affected final numbers in a chart or spreadsheet.
"How do I get them comfortable that the right changes have flown through and they're not spending a lot of time scratching their heads trying to figure out exactly what changed in a table?" she said.
Finding time for the bigger picture
By using Workiva for SEC reporting, the medical devices company's reporting team can collaborate simultaneously, connect data across multiple instances, and provide visibility into changes. Specific benefits include:
- Multiple users can enter updates in a spreadsheet, document, or presentation at the same time, with an audit trail capturing revisions
- A blackline feature makes it easier to compare versions of a document and quickly identify numerical changes in financial tables
- Updating data at the source updates all linked instances, across multiple pages and reports
- Rolling forward is simple with formulas the manager of financial reporting created to auto-populate prior year numbers into new 10-Qs
The team has used the Workiva connected reporting and compliance platform to reduce the 10-Q process by about a week and the 10-K process by three to four weeks, the manager said.
"A lot of that had to do with having multiple users being able to go into the document and update, having better controls, and being able to link different cells," she said.
She created a validation workbook that could, for example, help the team check whether a number in a footnote matched the income statement or whether there was a rounding discrepancy to resolve.
Building future leaders
Workiva has delivered efficiency that gives her team the time to review results, including the impact of a new product or the reasons for large variances within a business line.
"It really allowed my team to spend more time analyzing the information," she said. "They were then being groomed into better professionals who were able to focus on their career goals of looking at the bigger picture and understanding how the different pieces of the filings fit together, rather than just focusing time on populating and filing."
In that way, Workiva has aligned with the company's mission to execute on operations, move quickly, and invest in talent.
"We'd have more time to question: What is leadership looking at? Can we start looking at some of those same things and start grooming ourselves to become better leaders in the future as well? Because this is what we'll need to focus on as we grow in our career path."
That's why she said the main reason she recommends Workiva is efficiency, hands down.
"It's a smarter and faster way of reporting," she said.