From Flash Reports to Financial Statement Analysis and Beyond
It happens all the time. I’m at an industry conference, and someone pulls me aside to ask a familiar question: What else can my team do with Workiva?
They see the value in the platform and know it’s making a difference for their teams, but they also suspect their organisation could be getting even more out of it.
And, most of the time they’re right.
Workiva is one platform that offers many opportunities. Most organisations—from private and public companies to government agencies and nonprofits—have room to grow when it comes to using the platform to its fullest potential.
Among companies, many start using Workiva for SEC reporting. It’s the most common entry point for our customers. (Plus, that’s where we began, too.) Generally, after managing one reporting need with Workiva, users start thinking of other processes they could streamline. This could be work that happens in desktop spreadsheets. So-called 'collaboration' that is managed through email and network drives. Reviews that rely on long email strings with outdated attachments, sometimes even handwritten comments.
At the other end of the spectrum are organisations with a vision for taking our platform to the next level, with a roadmap they've created to help them reach that peak. They eventually have a fully connected process where they can use Workiva to prepare, analyse and report on all of their financial data, from their earnings presentation to their P&L and beyond, including:
- Management reports
- Board of directors reports
- Financial statement analysis
- Statement of cash flows
- Investor relations
- Flash reports
They also use Workiva for internal controls and enterprise risk management (ERM) or customer-specific use cases, from managing the fleet vehicle inspection and replacement process to collecting comments for employee performance feedback for a bank's finance team.
The customers I talk with want to see how their organisations' reporting processes measure up. The connectivity framework below is an excellent tool for evaluating different levels of collaboration across an enterprise in terms of technology, data, content, processes and teams.
Exemplars of expansion
So, what does a connected team look like? And, how have companies successfully expanded their use of Workiva? Here are a few examples and insight from their leaders.
Fast growth and an initial public offering challenged the finance group at Biohaven Pharmaceuticals to find new, flexible and scalable ways to work. They turned to Workiva for SEC reporting and quickly realised the potential to use Workiva to streamline multiple processes.
'We recognised right away that the platform was built with certain principles in mind to address risks and operational issues that are not exclusive to a finance group', says George Clark, who oversees SEC reporting and the technical accounting team.
Now the company’s finance group uses the platform for SOX compliance and financial close reporting. Other business lines use it to streamline processes, mitigate risk, improve collaboration, track time and manage resources.
Wintrust Financial Corporation
Joel Macholan, who heads the FP&A team at Wintrust Financial Corporation, is in charge of converting financial data into forecasts company leaders use to make strategic decisions. His team depends on Workiva for producing reports with financial projections, analysing variances and answering questions from management. They also use the platform to produce a range of other content, including:
- Quarterly reports
- Monthly performance reports
- DFAST reports
- SOX compliance
- SEC filings
Wintrust came up with a unique use case for Workiva when they started using the platform to collect and share development plans for each person on the finance team. Joel says it's all about finding opportunities and helping power users raise awareness throughout your organisation of what the platform can do.
'[Power users] play a huge role. The development of power users is probably the most important thing in terms of expanding the use of [Workiva] throughout the organisation', Joel says.
A national financial institution
One national mortgage loan company offers a great example of a highly connected reporting process. The organisation has used Workiva solutions since 2012, starting with SEC reporting and steadily adding new solutions including SOX compliance and management reporting, along with new Workiva capabilities including Wdata and Workspaces.
But the biggest change they made is creating a three-person team devoted to the future state of reporting for the organisation. The team analysed steps in the financial reporting process to build an advanced, connected reporting structure that automates 65 per cent of their quarterly reports and saves the team 125 hours a quarter.
'All of those savings come from using Wdata', says a financial reporting manager for the institution. 'And, I highly recommend using Workspaces because it’s a great collaborative environment'.
Getting the most out of your investment in Workiva
Back to that original question: What else can a team do with Workiva? I have three answers for anyone wondering how to level up with Workiva.
- Start small. Evaluate your processes and look for opportunities to streamline, connect and automate a single step or part of your process.
- Build a plan. Create a roadmap for connecting and automating your work with Workiva. Then, follow that roadmap to start building out your processes.
- Experiment. Start the conversation with your team about the parts of your processes that just aren’t working, and then test new approaches.
People are the real key to success, so start the conversation with your teams today, and don't be afraid to fail. You may stumble more often than you succeed at first, but the impact you'll have on the way your team works will be significant.
Of course, our Customer Success Managers are always here to help determine the next best steps to help your organisation achieve a higher state of connected reporting—and ultimately, to reach your goals. Just drop us a line.
Your Road Map for Achieving a Connected Financial Close
Visualize the steps to accelerating your close with this maturity model.