Workiva Named Large Software Company of the Year by International Business Awards

Stevie Awards Large

“The Workiva platform is the fastest, safest and most sophisticated data management engine available today,” states a Stevie Awards judge.

VIENNA – 21 October, 2019 – Workiva (NYSE:WK), provider of the world’s leading connected reporting and compliance platform, has won a Gold Stevie® Award for Company of the Year in the large software company category in The 16th Annual International Business Awards®. The awards were presented at a gala ceremony in Vienna, Austria on October 19.

“Workiva is honored to be recognized globally with a Gold Stevie Award,” said Marty Vanderploeg, CEO of Workiva. “We give our employees the freedom and resources they need – backed by our culture of collaboration and inclusion – to help our customers around the world build trust with connected reporting.”

The International Business Awards are the world’s premier business awards program. A record total of more than 4,000 nominations from organizations of various sizes and industries in 74 nations and territories were submitted this year for consideration in a wide range of categories.

More than 250 executives worldwide served as Stevie Awards judges from May through August. Here are some of the judges’ comments about Workiva:

“Superb rapid growth without compromising product quality and customer satisfaction. Workiva indeed has great solutions.”

“The Workiva platform is the fastest, safest and most sophisticated data management engine available today.”

“Workiva is committed to exceeding industry standards in data protection.”

“Workiva provides the flexibility to identify and adapt to changing regulatory and management needs, which is important to their worldwide customers.”

“A very strong submission from an established organization and an excellent example of a range of solutions essential to any CFO office.”

“The IBA judges from across the world were highly impressed with the nominations they reviewed this year. With the level of achievement documented in the nominations from 74 nations, the Stevie Awards are proud to honor organizations that demonstrate a high level of achievement in a variety of industries,” said Michael Gallagher, president and founder of the Stevie Awards.

Workiva has received 19 Stevie Awards since 2016, including a Gold Stevie® Award for Employer of the Year in the Stevie Awards for Great Employers in September 2019.

Details about The International Business Awards and the lists of Stevie Award winners are available at http://www.StevieAwards.com/IBA.

About the Stevie Awards

Stevie Awards are conferred in seven programs: the Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards, the German Stevie Awards, The American Business Awards®, The International Business Awards®, the Stevie Awards for Women in Business, the Stevie Awards for Great Employers, and the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service. Stevie Awards competitions receive more than 12,000 nominations each year from organizations in more than 70 nations. Honoring organizations of all types and sizes and the people behind them, the Stevie Awards recognize outstanding performances in the workplace worldwide. Learn more about the Stevie Awards at http://www.StevieAwards.com.

About Workiva

Workiva, provider of the world’s leading connected reporting and compliance platform, is used by thousands of enterprises across 180 countries, including more than 75 percent of Fortune 500® companies, and by government agencies. Our customers have linked over five billion data elements to trust their data, reduce risk and save time. For more information about Workiva (NYSE:WK), please visit workiva.com.

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Workiva Inc.
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Nasdaq: Refreshing the Roadmap to IPO Readiness

Nasdaq Refreshing the Roadmap to IPO Readiness

From Nasdaq.com: A well-executed IPO is an exciting milestone, but can be one of the most difficult tasks undertaken by CEOs and CFOs. Taking the right steps prior to initial public offering can help ease the transition from private to public and increase the odds of meeting post-IPO growth goals and expectations.

Gone are the days when learning to navigate quarterly earnings calls and Sarbanes-Oxley regulations was the most challenging hurdle; newly public companies now need to prepare for new paradigms of investor engagement, complex threats that are emerging in the “third wave” of the technological revolution, and a rapidly shifting regulatory environment.

I’ve updated the IPO roadmap with a number of advance measures that can help a company prepare for these modern challenges. If your company is exploring an initial public offering, plan on taking 12-18 months to gear up for it. This “golden window” is the perfect opportunity to lay the groundwork for a successful IPO.

Amend the bylaws to allow for evergreen replenishment of the equity pool.

The golden window is a onetime opportunity to amend your company’s bylaws with a mechanism that allows for an automatic evergreen replenishment of the company’s equity pool. This will avoid management and directors from having to go back to shareholders during the annual proxy season to request more equity when/if the company grows rapidly during the first few years after IPO.

Shareholders generally expect that evergreen equity replenishment provisions sunset after about four to five years, but don’t miss the opportunity to add this feature to your company’s equity plan before the IPO so you can take advantage of it during your first years as a public company.

Lock in key players by topping off equity grants.

Your private company has valuable employees, managers, and executives who launched the start-up and are critical to executing growth strategies. Likely those folks have vested most of their equity. The “golden window” is a chance to top off their equity grants with vesting schedules that will help lock these important team members in for the coming three to five years.

Hire a seasoned Investor Relations Officer.

The modern C-suite needs an Investor Relations team and leader. I can’t overemphasize the importance of the right investor relations hire. Many new IPOs under-hire the IR officer, or often worse, promote an internal administrator because they’ve done a good job coordinating investor meetings and appointments.

Investor Relations is a lynchpin to building a good perception of the company’s investment value. There has been a tremendous sea change in shareholder engagement during the past 18 months; big index funds expect to have regular interaction with management as well as the board, and they have built large departments to handle outreach to their portfolio companies. Your IR officer will develop and execute the plan of strategy and the messaging for ongoing engagement with these “passive” as well as active investors. They coordinate interactions with management and the board.

A seasoned IR professional has a rolodex of relationships, has been though company crisis reporting elsewhere in their career, and know how to prepare the management team to handle quarterly report communications with investment analysts. It’s critical that management run through video-recorded mock quarterly analyst calls at least three quarters in advance of going public. This gives the CEO and CFO a chance to practice live, determine who’s a strong communicator and identify areas of messaging that need improvement.

Corporations spend anywhere from 2 to 6% of their total annual budgets on marketing to acquire new customers and build a strong brand. Why wouldn’t you dedicate extra capital to acquire an investor relations rock star who can convey a compelling message and build trust with global investors? The IR officer is the defender of your company’s equity value.

Hire the right mix of consulting firms to create a strong public company brand.

There are three different kinds of external PR advisers who are invaluable in helping guide the creation of a newly public company brand. Most companies know to hire a general PR firm to help develop the company’s overall positioning and voice as a public company brand. But just as you wouldn’t go to your general family practitioner for specialty heart surgery, you wouldn’t go to a general public relations firm for IPO-specific needs.

In addition to an Investor Relations officer, your company will benefit from a specialized investor relations consulting firm to support your IR officer in developing presentations and messaging to be used when courting potential investors during the IPO roadshow, as well as helping to build investment community access and relationships.

The third key PR advisor is a “boutique social media firm”. They teach and support your internal corporate communications team to effectively manage and execute your company’s social media strategy and messaging. The social media firm should also be on retainer to help respond to any reputational crisis that may unravel in real time on social media. Something WILL go wrong at some point, whether it’s a customer crisis or an employee crisis or a financial crisis or a cyber breach. It’s important to have that protection in place.

Develop and publicize an ESG program to capture sticky investors.

I’ve written previously on the importance of strong ESG practices, to both the company and its investors. Good ESG programs increase stock liquidity, unlock competitive value and keep activists at bay. Sustainability and impact investing are growing at double-digit rates. ESG investors tend to be long-term investors, so you’ll want to put an ESG program in place right from the get-go to capture those differentiated and net new “sticky” investment dollars.

Also keep in mind that future investors, customers, and new hires are likely millennials who care a great deal about corporate purpose, values, and mission. A strong ESG program distinguishes and differentiates companies and helps them attract the best and brightest employees.

Shore up IT frameworks.

It’s not glamorous, but without IT infrastructure investment and readiness, you can’t build an effective business. Your information systems won’t scale up. Your finance team won’t be able to close the books in time for quarterly reporting. Your compliance systems won’t be up to snuff. Your company information will be vulnerable to hackers.

The days of giant, costly SAP and Oracle investments are behind us. Many companies are instead investing in point solution products. It’s important to ensure these systems deliver the scalable, efficient processes and effective analytics that a public company needs. You want these systems in place, debugged and operating well while you are still private.

Cyber systems in particular need evaluating prior to IPO to ensure your company is protected from internal and external threats. I recommend engaging a boutique cyber security firm that can conduct penetration testing to give insight into areas of vulnerability that require additional security measures.

Implement term limits on the board.

This one is a bit controversial, but I’m putting it out here, because a fast-growing company can outgrow its directors just like it can outgrow its management team. An IPO needs the flexibility to scale director skillsets as the company grows. For example, a Phase I company (defined as $100 million to $1 billion) needs a different skillset than a Phase II company ($1 billion to $5 billion). Term limits are a great tool for refreshing the board as needed.

I also advise putting a provision in company bylaws to annually enable the possible rotation of the chairman/lead director. The bylaw language automatically sunsets the lead independent director or non-executive chair role every year. Most of the time, the company will keep renewing that person. However, if the company ends up in a circumstance where there is a lack of chemistry, alignment or trust between the CEO and the lead director—or if the company has simply outgrown that person—it can be catastrophic if the company does not have an auto-sunset provision. Then there is no graceful way to get that lead director off the board and out of that key role.

My final few points have long been tried and true elements of any traditional IPO readiness effort, but I’ve put a modern twist on each:

Refresh the board with independent directors.

Future shareholders, whether they are index funds or individuals, want professionally experienced public company board members. They also want directors who have had multiple experiences leading companies through the relevant stage of growth—for example, if the IPO will be growing from $200 million to $500 million. For some early-stage investors, this may be the largest company board they served on. Be cognizant that some of these investors may have a duty of loyalty to their fund investors that may not always align with the interests of the preferred or common shareholde.

An IPO is an opportunity, as well as a catalyst, to forward build board member skill sets. Building a public company board requires a long runway, but many companies wait until six months from IPO and then rush to find independent chairs for the key committee roles. There is a value to starting that search and those conversations 18 to 24 months in advance, so you can rotate some private equity or venture capital investors off the board in time to find the RIGHT seasoned public company board members.

Investor directors often don’t want to leave the board, so one of the hardest and most awkward conversations a CEO, Chair, or Lead Director will face is telling early stage investor directors that it’s time to depart the board. Start at least 18 months in advance by having quarterly conversations with the board as a whole about the board profiles and skills matrices the company will need to execute the post-IPO strategy. By the 3rd or 4th conversation, those investor directors who don’t fit the future ideal profiles will absorb that it is time for them to transition off.

You can’t talk about board composition without discussing diversity. Publicly-traded companies will get in trouble with index fund investors if they don’t build boards with at least 30% gender diversity, so plan for it—because the index funds care passionately about it.

Obtain adequate insurance protection for officers and directors.

Legal liability is generally greater for officers and directors of public versus private companies. A private company D&O insurance policy is not likely to be sufficient once the company goes public. Hire an experienced D&O insurance broker early in the IPO process to ensure officers and directors are protected. You do not want to find out AFTER an issue arises that your officers and directors are not adequately covered and therefore facing serious personal and financial repercussions. Review, refresh and update the company Indemnification for a post IPO company.

Forward hire the right executive team.

While a successful IPO may seem like an end goal, it is actually a beginning. You need to begin evaluating four to six quarters ahead of your IPO whether your C-suite has the right people to ensure the company’s long-term growth and success. Make sure your management team is aligned on the company’s mission, goals, and strategy. Evaluate their skillsets to ensure they have the knowledge and experience to execute the company’s post-IPO business plan for the one to six quarters post IPO.

It’s particularly important that the CFO is qualified to be a public company CFO. If the CFO is a home-grown candidate with no prior public company experience, then augment their skillsets with an experienced public company-experienced controller, chief accounting officer and/or head of treasury.

Many of these suggestions may seem unnecessary. But go through the exercise and tailor the pre-IPO “list” that fits your company. Avoid learning the hard way and pounce on your pre-IPO, one time, golden window to maximize your company’s potential as a successful public company.

Read original article on Nasdaq.com here >>

Betsy Atkins serves as President and Chief Executive Officer at Baja Corp, a venture capital firm. She is currently on the board of directors of Covetrus (Nasdaq: CVET), Wynn Resorts (Nasdaq: WYNN), and SL Green Realty. She has served on 34 public company boards during her career, and helped launch 13 IPOs. Betsy is also the author of Be Board Ready: The Secrets to Landing a Board Seat and Being a Great Director and Behind Boardroom Doors.

Workiva Enters New Frontier of Connected Reporting and Compliance with Powerful Wdata Capabilities

DALLAS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

Automatic Updates, Approval Workflows and Data Connections from Source Systems to Final Reports in the Workiva Ecosystem Ensure Accuracy and Transparency

Workiva (WK), provider of the world’s leading connected reporting and compliance platform, today released new Wdata capabilities, including automatic updates, approval workflows and improved connectivity, at its Amplify user conference here.

Wdata is a Workiva platform component that enables customers to orchestrate data from Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Governance Risk and Compliance (GRC) platforms, other third-party, on-premise systems and cloud applications. Once the data is connected in the Workiva platform, users are able to automate updates, track every change and seamlessly collaborate with colleagues to create trusted reports and regulatory filings.

New Wdata capabilities include:

Automated Data Updates and Workflows: Users are able to create and manage sequences of tasks—known as chains—to automate workflows across on-premise or cloud data sources. Chains can be configured to automatically refresh data from multiple sources, and then push that data to spreadsheets, documents and presentations for connected reports.

Finance and Accounting Connectors: Finance and accounting teams are able to access more than 30 connectors to integrate data directly from their most commonly used, on-premise systems and cloud applications for sourcing their ERP, reconciliation, financial close, budgeting, planning and other operational data.

Risk and Controls Integration: Users can connect GRC, point solution and other audit risk and compliance systems to share issues, risk, controls and other critical data.

Automated Monitoring and Updates: Users create data connections that can automatically monitor and pull information from source systems on-demand or a set schedule.

Controlled Access and Approvals: Managers have new tools for governance and oversight because they can control collaborators’ access to defined datasets, establish multi-step approvals and apply full audit trails.

“Wdata creates a fully integrated data ecosystem in the Workiva platform,” said Will Gregg, Vice President of Solutions at Workiva. “Our customers can configure Wdata so that their data will automatically update in a single, secure environment and feed directly into downstream reports and analysis.”

Wdata automation immediately takes away human-entry error and becomes a huge time savings for overworked teams. “When a team’s data is in our platform, they can create any report or compliance filing with full trust and transparency,” he added. “With a few clicks, they will be able to drill down into the details of a single data point or take a holistic view of their entire organization.”

“Wdata will fundamentally change the value of reporting teams by giving them time to analyze their business performance for high-level decision-making,” said Gregg. “We are entering a new frontier of reporting and compliance.”

About Workiva Amplify

Workiva Amplify is the annual Workiva user conference. In 2019, it expects to bring together over 2,000 accounting, finance and compliance professionals; industry leaders and Workiva experts. The four-day conference provides training and professional development, continuing education credits, best practices and networking.

About Workiva

Workiva, provider of the world’s leading connected reporting and compliance platform, is used by thousands of enterprises across 180 countries, including more than 75 percent of Fortune 500® companies, and by government agencies. Our customers have linked over five billion data elements to trust their data, reduce risk and save time. For more information about Workiva (WK), please visit workiva.com.

Request a Workiva demo: www.workiva.com/request-demo
Read the Workiva blog: www.workiva.com/blog
Follow Workiva on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/company/workiva
Like Workiva on Facebook: www.facebook.com/workiva/
Follow Workiva on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Workiva

Claim not confirmed by FORTUNE or Fortune Media IP Limited. FORTUNE® and FORTUNE 500® are registered trademarks of Fortune Media IP Limited and are used under license. FORTUNE and Fortune Media IP Limited are not affiliated with, and do not endorse products or services of, Workiva Inc.

View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190910005061/en/

Contact:
Media:
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Workiva Inc.
(515) 663-4471
press@workiva.com

Top 10 IPO Readiness Tips You Need to Know for Today’s Market

You only get one chance at an initial public offering. Learn what separates a successful IPO from the rest in this 30-minute on-demand webinar from Workiva.

workiva-top-ipo-readiness-tips-j78700-20190531

Workiva has partnered with Carolyn Saacke from the NYSE and Benjamin Cohen of Latham & Watkins LLP to bring you best practices for going public. Listen in as they discuss the top 10 IPO readiness tips that finance and legal executives should be aware of in today’s marketplace.

Duration: 30 minutes

Key takeaways:

  • Understand operational details critical to preparing for an IPO
  • Develop a checklist for key steps needed to successfully go from a private company to a public company
  • Identify and address the current regulatory environment and IPO trends

 

View On-Demand Webinar Here >>

Accounting Today: Four ways pre-IPO companies can get their financial house in order

This article was originally published on Accounting Today on July 31, 2019. Read it here >>

UBER

Uber’s first full quarterly report came with surprising disclosures that the IRS and other tax authorities are investigating its transfer pricing arrangements from 2013 and 2014. That’s the sort of landmine no company needs, especially with the extra scrutiny a newly public company inevitably gets.

Transfer pricing is seen by many industry experts “as a relatively risky strategy” and has even gotten giants like Apple and Amazon in trouble. Given the potential benefits, however, it’s not surprising that Uber would want to push the envelope. That said, cutting $141 million of unrealized tax benefits suggests they were doing more than pushing the envelope.

We don’t know exactly what happened in Uber’s case, but a fair number of nonpublic companies have shoddy or nonexistent processes around sign-offs and reviews, and as a result have plenty of skeletons hiding in their financials. That’s why it’s essential for companies contemplating going public to get their financial house in order well before that bell is rung.

For companies dealing with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s requirements for the first time, the process can be time consuming, burdensome and result in significant inaccuracies, which have disastrous consequences. Early planning for an IPO is essential for avoiding many of those unpleasant surprises, and also helps with establishing best practices for future reporting and compliance.

Based on my experience as an auditor at Ernst & Young, and working with CFOs and controllers of companies at all stages of the IPO process, here are four tips to help your finance team make a smoother journey.

1. Get ahead of it. Twelve to 36 months before a planned IPO, companies need to modernize, automate their accounting systems, and keep an eye on compliance. Going public increases the need for speed and accuracy in your accounting — especially in your closing process — and outdated and inflexible financial systems, coupled with manual processes, make it nearly impossible to hit all those hard deadlines. Older systems may lack the necessary capabilities required for consistent, accurate financial reporting. Those older systems may make scaling your finance operations post-IPO nearly impossible.

Besides updating your current system, you may need to invest in other specialty software to help with the accounting and additional voluminous disclosures needed for the latest FASB and IFRS standards for lease accounting and revenue recognition. Excel alone just won’t cut it anymore.

You’ll need a team, technology and processes that ensure the delivery of accurate financials every quarter. According to a guide from Ernst & Young, companies should “begin the IPO readiness process early enough so that your pre-listed company acts and operates like a public company at least a year before the IPO.” With a long enough runway, you can perform trial runs of investor roadshows, IR presentations and “file without filing.” This may uncover essential issues you’ll need to resolve before you go public.

Since your company likely has smaller accounting and finance teams than most public companies, that additional reporting burden will be shared across fewer people. This makes automation a must and provides an incentive to really look at all your processes and eliminate the bottlenecks.

2. Avoid triggering red flags. There are several areas that have historically raised red flags with the Securities Exchange Commission, including company reorganizations done partially for creating advantageous tax positions. Uber’s difficulties with transfer pricing, and Walmart’s recent settlement with the SEC after years of investigations into their policies regarding international “facilitation payments” (aka bribes), show that there are a lot of ways to get in trouble with the SEC.

According to a midyear report on SEC enforcement activities so far in 2019, the second most common problem was Issuer Reporting and Disclosure, an area that was number three for all of 2018. Issuer reporting and disclosure problems include things like revenue recognition, faulty valuations and impairment decisions, missing or inadequate disclosures, and good old fashioned misleading of investors, which got Elon Musk of Tesla and Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos in trouble.

3. Stay on top of key performance indicators. Pre-IPO companies have to disclose information about past business performance to help provide investor guidance on future performance. The KPIs you select should adhere to a consistent and accurate model. Ernst & Young recommends outperforming competitors: “Investors base their IPO investment decisions on financial factors, especially debt to equity ratios, EPS growth, sales growth, ROE, profitability and EBITDA growth.”

For tech companies, research from McKinsey shows that top-line increases are more important than net profit. Revenue growth represents the momentum of a company, and while other metrics — users, subscribers, bookings, merchandise value — corroborate revenue growth, revenue is especially important to investors because the other metrics aren’t audited.

Investors also like to see predictable revenue streams. This means that any changes to a business model may need time to develop a stable, recurring revenue stream.

Another thing that investors look for is enough cash on the balance sheet to fund the company to the breakeven point. If the company isn’t yet profitable, showing a clear path to profitability is always a plus.

4. Accuracy of quarterly reporting and audits. Companies that aren’t spending enough time on evaluating risks may find their organizations subject to issuing a restatement of their quarterly results, or if they’re private, they may have their IPOs delayed in order to get their financial house in order. Uber is likely going to have to do some restatements once the IRS gets through with them, if not before.

Mistakes or errors can kill a CFO’s career, or even worse, send him or her to jail. That’s what happened to the former CFO of Bankrate, who was sentenced to a decade in jail for playing fast and loose with expense accruals. Even saying something in public that isn’t quite accurate can get you in trouble, as Elon Musk and Tesla found out the hard way, to the tune of $40 million in penalties. Keep in mind that the SEC has a zero tolerance level for errors or missing information.

Adopting a cloud-based ERP system is a start. Automating many processes is essential so you can get away from error-prone manual processes and get the books closed faster. Saving time by leveraging technology also gives you time to think strategically about those numbers.

Getting to a successful IPO is an amazing milestone, and something that only a tiny fraction of startups ultimately achieve. Now maybe it’s because I’m an accounting geek, but I think the best part of making a company IPO-ready is the opportunity to build a best-of-breed, lean and efficient accounting function that gives your company a strategic advantage in insights and business intelligence.

Author Michael Whitmire, CPA, is co-founder and chief executive officer at Los Angeles-based FloQast, Inc., a developer of accounting close management software.