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Takeaways from Workiva Amplify 2022

Oct 19, 2022

Over 10,000 finance, accounting, ESG, compliance, and analytics professionals came together at Workiva Amplify 2022, where they learned best practices for leveraging cloud platforms to automate data and audit processes.

Here are some of the top takeaways for streamlining processes:

Leveraging Chains Fosters Automation of Data Management and Aggregation

Leveraging chains allow business leaders to automate routine tasks since they provide an easy integration to retrieve and send data to multiple sources. The automation of data management through chains reduces data validation efforts and repetitive work, which is a pain point for many companies handling large volumes of information stored in multiple programs.

Automation of Internal Audits Fosters More Impactful Data Analysis

By automating the internal audit process, the audit becomes more efficient and companies have more immediate access to all source data (which causes less reliance on process owners) as well as enhanced reporting to summarize findings and identifying trends, anomalies, and more.

Audit analytics can be applied across the audit life cycle throughout the following processes:

  1. Scoping and Planning
    1. Using this approach provides the ability to identify which areas of the engagement’s risk to address and find answers to, such as “How are we going to allocate your audit resources to the risk areas?”
  2. Evidence Collection
    1. Sourcing the data and reports will reduce or even eliminate evidence requests.
  3. Fieldwork/Testing
    1. Identify trends or anomalies to share with clients and eliminate the sampling risk.
  4. Reporting
    1. Utilizing summarized reports with visuals to present more readable reports.
  5. Monitoring
    1. Monitoring continuous procedures and continuous auditing.

Best Practices for ESG Reporting

The best practices in developing ESG reports include:

I.  Highlights

Provide insight on important metrics such as overall status, progress throughout this period, milestones, key risks, key issues, and forecasted plan for next period.

II.  Purpose Linked to Strategy

Should describe the corporate values/pillars and how ESG principles inform overall business strategy and risk management.

III.  Climate

Discuss the company’s steps to reduce their impact. The expectation is to measure their emissions (Scope 1-3), set targets, and articulate a path to net-zero.

IV.  Progress Against Goals

Should discuss the company’s progress toward their goals and material topics in visually engaging and useful manner.

V.  Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Incorporate core values, human capital management considerations, cultural commitments. By nature of being a material topic to stakeholders warrants Board level oversight.

VI. ESG Oversight of the Board

Good governance practices are a key foundation to an effective ESG report. The Proxy, Form 10-K and ESG report need to be aligned with one another on key topics. All “material”/priority topics should channel up to the Board and to an executive function or employee level committee.

VII.  Audit Quality Data

This content should link back to the reference materials to the extent possible and include key words sought by “bots” and ratings agencies.

The above-mentioned best practices in ESG reporting can be automated to improve client experience including aggregating ESG disclosure standards relevant to their respective organization into a single customized file to comply with frameworks including the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), and the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).

In addition, using a chain in ESG reporting automates the annual process of manually rolling forward reports. The conversion table provides a wide list of standard conversion formulas that are necessary when calculating environmental key performance indicators (KPIs) and also provides report owners a standard master data conversion table to modify data into information.

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