For more than a century, massive rolls of newsprint and barrels of ink were standard line-item expenses for The E.W. Scripps Company (Scripps). But in 2015, those costs vanished. Management decided to divest their company of the long-flagging newspaper business that was once its flagship enterprise. Instead, they focused on building the local television and national media powerhouse that the firm is today, delivering content to nearly every US television household.
Years before this, Scripps saw the industry moving quickly toward more digital models driven by advancements in technology. This prompted management to review its processes and associated workflows, recalls Kevin McDonald, vice president for people services and insights at The E.W. Scripps Company. “We found opportunities to link finance and HR better, including improvements in how we use data”, he says. “We discovered that reporting, analysis and planning often took a back seat to the time and effort spent chasing and reconciling data.”
Workday has given us the data and insights to better guide the business strategically, especially through tough and uncertain times, and do so much faster.
Vice President, Financial Planning and Analysis
People first, then financials.
Scripps’ first step toward changing this situation was to digitise its HR operations. This goal led them to choose Workday Human Capital Management (HCM) and Workday Payroll. According to McDonald, the application deployments went smoothly, thanks to the proven Workday Delivery Assurance model and Workday partner OneSource Virtual. “We were in the middle of multiple mergers and acquisitions at the time”, he says. “So I was quite worried about the risks and potential problems we would face. But Workday turned out to be one of the smoothest deployments I’ve seen in my career.”
Given their success with deploying Workday HCM and Payroll – plus a beneficial experience with Adaptive Planning – McDonald, Vice President and Controller Dan Perschke, and other Scripps stakeholders turned their sights to adding Workday Financial Management and Workday Prism Analytics to their digital enterprise operations. Doing so created both a unified source of financial and HR data across the company and a framework for quickly integrating a new acquisition’s operations and financials. “We wanted to put financials on the same platform as HR to reduce integrations and maintenance”, says Perschke. “We’ve now accomplished that. With Workday, we’ve completely transformed our finance function, including a radical reduction in our manual processes and spreadsheet usage.”
With Workday, we’ve completely transformed our finance function, including a radical reduction in our manual processes and spreadsheet usage.
Vice President and Controller
More informed guidance makes for better decisions.
Workday’s impact on Scripps finance operations was dramatic. “Workday brought together our various finance functions and put them on the same platform as our HR processes – a giant leap forward for Scripps”, says McDonald. “With Workday applications fully integrated and operational, the finance team could start investing more time into developing analytics along with reporting and forecasting dashboards.”
Vagelis Kontopos, vice president of financial planning and analysis at The E.W. Scripps Company, says Workday gave his team the tools to simplify complex planning and forecasting processes. “Workday has given us the data and insights to better guide the business strategically, especially through tough and uncertain times, and do so much faster”, he says. “Scenario planning and frequent reporting were critical when our advertising revenues tanked during the pandemic. With Workday, we could help our leadership team make better, more-informed decisions about managing when cash flow was tight.”
Kontopos adds that budgeting is now faster and reporting actuals against budgets is more up to date. “By using a common Workday platform across all our divisions, our budgeting process is more centralised, and we’ve reduced our time and effort significantly”, he says. “We’ve cut monthly reporting time from two days to about 30 seconds with Workday. This enables us to deliver more real-time reports, forecasts and budget updates to our leadership.”
On day one, we cut out 32 different system interfaces. This relieved my team of a huge administrative burden and has allowed both finance and the HR systems team to focus on more important company initiatives, of which there are plenty in our mergers and acquisitions environment.
Vice President for People Services and Insights
Eliminated 32 system interfaces on day one.
Workday simplified Scripps’ business and IT systems in a big way, too. Much of that comes from its built-in infrastructure, including security as well as data and process management. “On day one, we cut out 32 different system interfaces”, McDonald says. “This relieved my team of a huge administrative burden and has allowed both finance and the HR systems team to focus on more important company initiatives, of which there are plenty in our mergers and acquisitions environment.”
Shifts into new and progressive directions involved a lot of complex business divestitures and acquisitions that could have taken a lot of time. “We’re able to do a business reorganisation in as little as two weeks using Workday”, says Perschke. “We couldn’t have done that before. Workday has really helped us pick up the pace of our acquisitions and seamlessly integrate them much faster. We can reorganise our business by just changing hierarchies. It’s a very simple drag and drop.”
We’ve cut monthly reporting time from two days to about 30 seconds with Workday. This enables us to deliver more real-time reports, forecasts and budget updates to our leadership.
Vice President of Financial Planning and Analysis
Bold moves make bold headlines.
All three Scripps executives agree that the entire Workday applications suite is intuitive to use. “Workday has made complex systems extremely simple to understand for average users, reducing training time and facilitating self-service”, Kontopos says. “The ability to go into Workday and drill all the way down to the lowest level, from a general ledger transaction down to an invoice, has helped our finance team become fully self-sufficient.”
The time and costs that Workday has saved Scripps freed up resources for other important company initiatives. “Because it’s cloud-based, Workday also supports user mobility and work-from-anywhere flexibility, which is huge for us”, says Kontopos. “So, if I’m at my kid’s soccer game and I have to approve something, I can do it on my phone in two seconds, as opposed to waiting until I get home or even forgetting about it. Workday has definitely improved our ability to communicate quickly and efficiently as a company.”
The ability to go into Workday and drill all the way down to the lowest level, from a general ledger transaction down to an invoice, has helped our finance team become fully self-sufficient.
Vice President of Financial Planning and Analysis