July 20, 2021

XBRL Reporting - 4 Tips for Solution Implementation

Since sharing some insights about the FERC’s XBRL reporting mandate earlier this year, Utegration’s team has gained greater perspective on what it takes to implement an XBRL solution successfully.

1. Define your milestone outputs in detail, in advance.

Implementing an XBRL solution such as Workiva’s Wdesk is a multi-step process. In order to maintain momentum and minimize surprises, we recommend that utilities invest time at the start of the project documenting the expected outputs from each milestone activity. For example:
      • Connection options such as API, Chains, and Connectors,
      • Raw data file of the trial balance extracted from SAP, and
      • Assigning/mapping the Wdesk trial balance FERC accounts to the FERC form pages.

Utilities engaged with Workiva and Utegration can benefit from our collaboration to ensure your outputs are at the right level of granularity to meet reporting requirements.

2. Assign a cross-functional team from Financial Accounting, SEC Reporting, and IT.

By involving these diverse stakeholders in the XBRL workshops and implementation, everyone with an interest in the success of the project will be prepared for reviewing and approving results. Workiva’s workshops and milestones are structured and well planned. To make the most of that process, make sure that your cross-functional team has the bandwidth to keep pace. This may mean assigning additional part-time functional resources—for example, two accountants so that one can cover for the other—or backfilling a role so that both the XBRL implementation and regular day-to-day work are covered adequately.

3. Dedicate time for product and process training.

Your team should be prepared not only to watch Workiva’s XBRL training videos, which cover product features, but also reserve time for functional training on key steps in the XBRL reporting process such as 1) presenting the source data in the form of trial balance/supporting workbooks, 2) conversion/validation of source data to a master spreadsheet containing all data and entity information, and 3) XBRL tagging to a final FERC form. Workiva refers to its product videos often during the implementation process, so reviewing them will increase your awareness of the tool’s capabilities. Make additional time for hands-on practice of core functional steps.

4. Supplement your team with external utility accounting and reporting experts.

Implementing an XBRL solution naturally leads to discussions of a utility’s cost flow and cost object tracing in SAP. This is one of Utegration’s areas of expertise, which complements Workiva’s product expertise and reinforces why we’re partnering together. If your team needs cost flow support during a Wdesk implementation, lean on us for guidance around utility-centric accounting, reporting, and SAP configuration issues.