Noodles & Company is known by its millions of fans across the country as the place to go for fresh, delicious, handcrafted noodle bowls, sandwiches, and soups. Based on its innovative approach to fast casual dining, Noodles & Company has grown from its first location in Denver in 1995 to nearly 500 establishments around the country today.
The chain’s innovative spirit extends well beyond its restaurants—it’s also known in the industry for its forward-thinking business practices. Noodles & Company runs lean, uses creative business approaches, and is an early adopter of technologies that can drive the company forward.
That’s why Workiva is made to order for Noodles & Company.
When Noodles & Company went public in 2013, the playing field changed for its two-person financial reporting team. Carrie Hart, Senior Director of Financial Reporting and Compliance, and a technical accountant produce all of the company’s external reporting, technical accounting, financial statements, and more. Now they have to prepare for Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) compliance, too.
A strategic switchWhen it came time for an S-1 filing, the process with their printer was not as smooth as expected. With the demands of financial reporting as a public company looming large, the team decided it needed a brand-new approach. “We did a thorough reference check from our network to figure out what is the best resource to use when you go public,” says Hart. “By and large, it was Wdesk.”
The team switched to Wdesk, and had Workiva employees transfer its documents and spreadsheets into the application. Then it braced for what they expected would be a lengthy software implementation.
“I thought it would take a month—but it took two days” says Hart. “It was amazing. Everything was perfect… I highly recommend using Workiva for the implementation.”
Now the team of two handles all of their SEC and Section 16 reports, XBRL tagging, certifications, presentations, and audit committee decks within Wdesk. “I like that everything is all in one place,” says the technical accountant. “It’s really easy to go in to the workbook and just update all your numbers there.” They’ve also opened up Wdesk to the company’s external auditors, general counsel, and CFO for review and input.
All of the company’s financial data is in one paperless place—using as little paper as possible is one of the company's goals goals. “We strive greatly in all aspects of our accounting department, from accounts payable through treasury, not to keep paper,” explains Hart.
In the past, weekly reports from every single restaurant were delivered to headquarters, resulting in mountains of paper. Now everything is scanned and stored digitally in Wdesk, and it can be accessed from anywhere at any time.
Consolidating data digitally not only saves paper, it also solves version control and streamlines data collection from the supply chain team. Now information owners can log in to Wdesk and upload data and support right in to the reports. “We don’t have to worry about miskeying or misinterpreting a piece of information that came from those teams,” says Hart.
In addition, executives and auditors review and comment on the reports right in the solution. “It’s become the one place where everybody can know which document is live,” explains Hart. “It gets rid of the redundancy of paper and who owns the live document.”
Hart says Wdesk has had a big impact on the bottom line. “It’s saved us countless hours and probably at least two additional head counts added to our company for not having to do that anymore.”
Wdesk for SOXBecause Noodles & Company went public under the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, it has five years to become compliant with Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) requirements. To ensure the company is well prepared for SOX compliance requirements, Hart is taking a phased-in approach to the process, starting with having an external auditor assess its processes. Results of the audit pointed to some processes that could be streamlined.
Once again, Wdesk was the answer.
The Noodles & Company team is using Wdesk to prepare for its first SOX certification and audit. In its first phase, the team is setting up risk control matrices and narratives in Wdesk, and it's using the application to collect data, documentation, and sign-offs from meetings in the system, too.
Hart and her teammate plan to expand their use into risk assessments, dashboards, evidence management, audit committee presentations, and more. With live-linking, the narratives, risk control matrix, and revenue process flowcharts are connected, so that if information needs to be changed, the team can edit the source and all related instances will update automatically.
An exciting partnershipWorkiva shares Noodles & Company’s innovative spirit. That’s why, when a new feature is added to any of its solutions, the Noodles & Company team is one of the first to try it. “We love to test all new functionality—we immediately jump on chance to improve our work,” says Hart.
She encourages other companies to join in and leverage all the services and innovation offered by Workiva. “I absolutely would recommend Workiva to any company thinking of going public or that’s already public that needs software to do its filings.”
It’s the freedom to do your own filings when you want and to make changes up to the last minute if you need to.
— Carrie Hart, Senior Director of Financial Reporting and Compliance