Innovation for Finance and Accounting Professionals
"Innovation for Finance and Accounting Professionals" was first published on FastCompany.com, August 6, 2019.
“Workiva changed my life.” “A game changer.” “I love this product.”
These are the phrases Workiva employees routinely hear from customers about the company’s connected reporting and compliance platform. Users can easily create and file complex financial and compliance reports to executives, boards, and federal and state regulatory agencies, including the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
By using Workiva software to connect data from various sources and systems across an organization, authorized employees in any department can access up-to-date information to make accurate financial decisions, such as knowing the optimal quantity of raw materials to order or forecasting seasonal labor needs.
Financial Transformation Drives Growth
Workiva’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform, known as Wdesk, is light years ahead of financial processes that rely heavily on manually prepared spreadsheets. A deep understanding of its customers’ most pressing financial reporting challenges is one reason why Workiva’s customers are such raving fans.
Workiva has built innovation into every aspect of its operation. “Our innovation is driven by a focus on learning from our customers, building quick prototypes that allow our customers to get a sense of our direction, and then iterating on our designs until we’re able to deliver a product that our customers will love,” says Workiva CEO Marty Vanderploeg.
Those customers include more than 75 percent of the largest companies in the U.S. as well as a healthy mix of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and government agencies. The Wdesk platform is used by customers in more than 180 countries.
Listening is a Core Business Strategy
Workiva’s culture also supports and furthers the company’s innovation, boasting a 95 percent employee satisfaction rate. To a large degree, Vanderploeg believes that satisfaction is due to the company’s robust internal communication channels, such as all-hands meetings where live questions from the audience are encouraged, weekly one-on-one meetings with individuals and teams, quarterly anonymous surveys of employees, and open chat rooms for feedback—all of which are designed to both share and receive information.
To ensure employees feel empowered to share ideas and provide input, Vanderploeg also gives out his personal cell phone number to employees and customers, who are encouraged to use it to contact him if needed.
Workiva has worked hard to build an open culture that values feedback from everyone. “The first job of our managers is to listen,” Vanderploeg says. “That’s where some of our best new ideas originate.”
The company is committed to diversity and inclusion, which Vanderploeg believes is critical to building the best possible talent pool and ultimately makes the company stronger.
Spending millions on R&D and continuously updating its technology “builds an ecosystem where everyone has pride and job satisfaction,” Vanderploeg says. R&D employees are also given free time to devote to experimenting and exploring new ways to solve problems. Reassuring them that it’s safe to fail is another way Workiva fosters creativity and innovation. And because Workiva is a pure cloud company, employees naturally have a collaborative, mobile workplace.
By creating an environment where employees are encouraged to speak up, work as a team, and have fun, Workiva employees are able to keep breaking new ground and find purpose in their work. And happy employees make happy customers.
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