So, you think you’re ready for GSR?
It’s a risky feat having multiple entities around the world that need different reporting documents to stay compliant—especially when you’re balancing requirements across hundreds of sheets, languages, and stakeholders. The lack of visibility, transparency, and simplicity is challenging, and you need a solution that provides control and global statutory reporting (GSR) ease.
It’s exciting to envision a future where your data is standardized and reporting is more automated, where you have better collaboration and increased oversight. But before you jump into implementing a cloud platform like Workiva, here are a few things to consider in advance. Among other things, this will set you up for a smoother transition and speed up adoption time.
1. Prepare your chart of accounts
You’ll first need to validate and confirm the chart of accounts for each entity. Depending on how your accounts are set up, you may also need to adjust the structure. For example, if you operate from a list of parent and child accounts, it’ll need to be flattened before loading into Workiva. As you’re doing this, dive deep into each country’s accounts and exceptions to keep a holistic view.
2. Head to the source
In such a numbers heavy project, there’s a great deal of data needed for a successful implementation. Take inventory of how you source your sub-ledgers, asset schedules, and account-level GL data. Are you using a third party to prepare or file any reports? If so, they’ll likely need to be involved in the implementation and go-live, so inform them as needed.
3. Consider team availability
Before kick-off, ensure your team has the bandwidth to be active contributors to the project and make note of any blackout periods for your accounting team. Our experience is that stakeholders should allocate about two- to three-hours per week to support implementation needs.
4. Train before kick-off
When a project begins, heavy lifting is required—and plenty of new workflows must be integrated. Train your team on the skills they’ll need up front. Workiva offers a Learning Hub with courses and resources that will be critical while navigating implementation.
5. Find common ground among notes and languages
Even across international entities, it’s necessary to keep your team speaking the same financial language. The disclosure notes that accompany financial statements are very nuanced. If you haven’t already developed one, start a common narrative where disclosure language can be standardized and structured for easier comparison across a consolidated platform.
6. Prepare for collaboration—lots of it
Workiva offers a high level of customization across geographies. If you want to align on standardization, it’s going to require teamwork. Chat about what’s important for your team and find harmony as you consider the platform’s features and what to integrate.
7. Heed filing deadlines
Even in the midst of a GSR process transformation, your filing deadlines don’t budge. Consider the timeline necessary to implement Workiva, have adequate training to execute tasks, and get prepared for the next filing cycle. Be realistic in what you want to achieve—it’s no fun to be scrambling for compliance while on the learning curve of new technology.
8. Check for upcoming changes
If you’re currently planning or have kicked off a project that will alter your data (think GL overhaul, ERP implementation, or a change to your chart of accounts structure), it’s worth waiting to see where your data lands before embarking on a GSR journey with Workiva. Otherwise, you’ll likely end up having to re-do things after implementation.
9. Designate points of contact
There are a lot of moving parts in a process improvement project. Consider who will wear what hat prior to kick-off. You should have a main point of contact for project management, IT (to handle approvals and development), reporting documents, and data procurement. Also think about whether it would make sense for someone from your finance team to be trained as a super user during the implementation.
10. Plan to stay collaborative post-go-live
Undertaking an implementation of this scale will inevitably change the status quo of your teams. And despite all the up-front effort to stay organized, reports can easily drift away from one another if you’re not careful. Discuss your change management process and formalize a plan to stay in touch after the project is over.
As you can see, implementing Workiva isn’t just a lift and shift; it requires thoughtful discovery, tailored design, and a clear understanding of goals. It’s a total transformation that needs participation from financial managers and input from the upstream and downstream teams. If you can lay the proper groundwork upfront, you’ll save yourself time (and headaches) down the line!
Ready to start your GSR implementation? Need more guidance on how to start? We’re ready to help determine a game plan that works for your team and goals.