Winnebago Industries, Inc.

Winnebago Industries’ Finance Department tried to streamline its SEC report development and filing process for two years but the process was still complex and time consuming.
  • A streamlined approach to SEC report development and filing
  • Significant time savings on the SEC document development process, including at least 30 hours saved on word processing
  • Embracing and expanding use of a versatile, powerful solution for SEC reporting

Winnebago Industries' Financial Department tried to streamline its SEC report development and filing process for two years but the process was still complex and time consuming.

Winnebago Industries’ financial team faced several challenges every time they prepared the company’s SEC reports. Their main issues included version control problems, duplicate changes, multiple reviewers, and tight timelines.

Like many financial reporting teams, they used word processing and spreadsheet software to cobble together their reports. “It was a horrendously slow process, and it was very challenging,” explains Sarah Nielsen, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Winnebago Industries.

The company’s financial team attempted to streamline the process in 2008, but found limited success. The process remained complex and time consuming. “It was a little better, but we were still trying to manage a document with multiple authors, and that was our constant struggle,” explains Nielsen.

On top of it all, the team knew another challenge was looming—the SEC’s impending requirement to submit quarterly and annual reports in the new XBRL format. “We were already having a lot of dialogue with our existing printer on how they would deliver that to us,” says Nielsen.

An All-in-One Solution

In early 2010 a unique opportunity presented itself. Workiva invited Winnebago Industries to beta test its new end-to-end, cloud-based Wdesk SEC reporting solution for developing and filing external reports.

Wdesk saves time and money while improving SEC report accuracy by:

  • streamlining the report development process through collaboration
  • converting reports to the SEC’s required EDGAR format with a click of a button
  • integrating XBRL tagging and instance document creation
  • enabling electronic filing of reports directly with the SEC

“I wasn’t familiar with any application that did what Wdesk does,” says Nielsen. “When I first saw Wdesk, I thought I was going to be learning about a company that had XBRL tagging capabilities,” she said, “After our initial demo was conducted, I learned that this application was much more powerful than what I originally thought.” After careful consideration, Winnebago Industries agreed to participate in the Wdesk beta testing program.

The Workiva team trained Nielsen’s team during an on-site training session at Winnebago Industries’ headquarters. “I thought the training and the follow up was really good,” says Brian Hrubes, Controller. “They spent the time to put in our own live info into the solution so it meant something to us. It was easier to learn because we recognized the data.”

Nielsen concurs. “It was a very easy training process. It is all intuitive,” she says. “I was happy that people were able to pick it up fairly easily.”

Nielsen adds that the cloud-based solution eliminated the need for the company’s IT department to get involved with application installation and setup. “It is all in the cloud, and from our IT perspective, this is a very secure way for us to proceed.”

Early Success

The team first used Wdesk to create and file Winnebago Industries’ second quarter 10-Q. The solution’s one active document feature, which gives multiple users access to a single document at the same time, was a major benefit.

“The best thing about Wdesk is the ability to have multiple people working in a live document,” says Karen Post, Financial Reporting Manager. “You don’t have to worry about merging or keeping it up to date because when you open the document you know it’s current and it’s live.”

Nielsen appreciates the one active document feature too. “First and foremost, I like that I can be in the document whenever and wherever I want.” That ease of access and version control allowed Winnebago Industries to expedite the review process among the reporting team and with the company’s auditors, audit committee and SEC counsel, says Hrubes.

Functionality and Flexibility

While the Wdesk features are impressive, the team also appreciates its familiar look and feel, which mimics word processing and spreadsheet software. Post likes the powerful change once, update everywhere linking capability that automatically updates numbers. When source values are changed, all linked usages of that value are updated throughout the document. This eliminates computational errors, saves time, and improves accuracy. “Linking is another wonderful feature in the Wdesk solution,” she says. “We can actually have the calculations in the document and have them linked.”

Now that they’ve used Wdesk to successfully complete a 10-Q, the Winnebago Industries team sees other potential for the solution. They plan to use it for investor relations projects and for creating the company’s proxy statement.

When the SEC’s XBRL mandate went into effect, the XBRL tagging functionality was an important asset. “Originally we were looking for a solution to our XBRL needs,” says Hrubes. “But Workiva sold us much more than XBRL capability.”

The company is still calculating the hard and soft cost savings of using Wdesk, but they’ve already seen a minimum of 30 hours of time savings compared to word processing, and are seeing significant time savings in the document development process. “What we have found is that it helps us accelerate the whole process,” said Nielsen. Winnebago Industries has also eliminated costs associated with external EDGARization of their quarterly SEC filings.

In just six months, Wdesk has positively impacted Winnebago Industries’ Financial Department. “Wdesk really delivers everything we thought it could,” says Nielsen. “I would definitely recommend Wdesk because it meets a need that’s so basic to any organization that files with the SEC.”

I would definitely recommend Wdesk because it meets a need that's so basic to any organization that files with the SEC.

— Sarah Nielsen, Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Winnebago Industries, Inc.

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It was always a tense three hours. While a third-party vendor prepared and formatted her company’s 8-K report, Sheila Davis watched the clock and hoped for the best. As Public Relations and Investor Relations Manager at Winnebago Industries, America’s number-one motorhome brand, Davis is in charge of supplying company information to investors.

With every 8-K produced, she had a small window between 6–9 a.m. to file each one after the news release was issued, but before the conference call with investors and the media. Any delay in the process and Winnebago incurred extra costs for missing the deadline.

Despite Davis’ careful planning, the process didn’t always go smoothly. One quarter, the vendor missed the filing deadline, causing Winnebago extra costs and time. “I really don’t like surprises like that,” says Davis.

A trusted partner

At the time Winnebago’s financial reporting team began utilizing Wdesk to file its SEC reports, they also recognized how helpful Wdesk would be for Davis, and introduced her to the solution. After seeing the benefits, Davis was sold.

Now that she uses the Wdesk for investor relations reporting, Davis has complete control over her filings.

“With Wdesk, I have everything ready to go when it’s time to file. Right after I send out the news release, I finalize the 8-K filing. It only takes a few minutes.”

Davis estimates that using Wdesk saves her several hours each time she files, plus she’s eliminated outsourcing costs.

With Wdesk, I have peace of mind.

— Sheila Davis, Public Relations and Investor Relations Manager

Additional benefits

Fast filing isn’t the only benefit of using Wdesk. The application streamlines the process of creating, reviewing, and proofing the earnings releases, and news releases Davis produces.

The data in those documents is linked to the company’s Wdesk workbook, so when Davis pulls numbers to populate her reports, she knows they’re accurate.

“The linking in Wdesk has saved a lot of time because we don’t have to change each number in three or four places. I just verify the link.”

The fact that Wdesk is cloud based gives Davis an extra sense of security because users don’t need to email the documents to each other or print them out for review. Only authorized individuals have access to the files.

“Do you know how easy it is to type someone’s email address and have the computer populate the wrong name?” asks Davis. “There are just so many ways reports can accidentally be sent in a non-confidential manner, and that’s a big security issue.”

In total, Wdesk helps Davis achieve her number one goal. “Quality is the biggest issue for me. Our new releases have to be perfect from an accuracy standpoint. And with Wdesk, I have peace of mind.”

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