How CustomInk Fixed Broken Processes and Supported Growth with Workday

Kaylan McDuff
Kaylan McDuff

Kaylan McDuff is assistant controller of subsidiaries at CustomInk, which offers customers the ability to design their own t-shirts, caps, water bottles, and more. Headquartered in Northern Virginia, the company has 1,600 employees worldwide and offers its products both online and through newly emerging U.S. store locations. CustomInk is consistently recognized as a best place to work.

In 2012, CustomInk had 800 employees and was growing quickly. The company realized it could not support its growth plans with the systems it was using, so it deployed Workday Financial Management and Workday Human Capital Management.

In this interview, McDuff discusses how Workday has helped streamline business processes and create greater efficiencies for finance, while also supporting CustomInk’s ability to rapidly acquire new companies and meet changing regulatory and compliance demands.

As a medium enterprise, what were some of the business needs and challenges that led you to choose a new system?

Five years ago, we were using a dozen different systems throughout finance and team development (HR), and had reached a point where they could no longer support future objectives. Business processes such as payroll and accounts payable were time-consuming—requiring a lot of manual effort and workarounds—draining our people of time and energy that could be used on more value-add projects.

By moving to Workday, we wanted to scrap it all and have a system that worked for our needs. Our goal was to simplify every single business process, and we have accomplished just that.

“With Workday, we were able to automate and streamline the entire AP process, eliminate all of the paperwork, and decrease the amount of time spent on it from three days to one hour.”

How have processes such as payroll and accounts payable changed with Workday?

Payroll was painful in our old system. We would kick payroll off every Monday morning and have to submit it by Wednesday, working up to the clock every time. Our team was working 12-hour days, and I knew we would end up losing good people if we didn’t solve these issues.

The issue was that our systems did not talk to each other and there was so much paper being shuffled back and forth. There was greater potential to miss things and make errors, so our finance team members would have to block their calendars for time every morning in case anything went wrong.

Now, payroll and finance teams aren’t wasting their time on clerical work. Having finance, human resources, payroll, expenses, and time tracking all in one system has streamlined our processes and we are able to get payroll done in three hours versus three days. Even better, our team is much happier and able to focus on more strategic and rewarding work.

“We are able to dig into our bottom line and expenses to understand spend and where there could be potential savings.”

It was a similar experience in accounts payable (AP). Prior to Workday, our AP specialist was manually loading 1,000 invoices a month into our system and it took three days to get approvals. We had to print out invoices and a runner would then take them to cost center managers to sign, scan at their desks, and then upload into the system. Then, we’d have to print them all out again and I’d have to go through each one, making sure all of the signatures and coding were correct.

With Workday, we were able to automate and streamline the entire AP process, eliminate all of the paperwork, and decrease the amount of time spent on it from three days to one hour.

How has Workday supported CustomInk’s growth through acquisitions?

Workday has allowed us to scale. It would have taken us many months on our old systems to fold in a new company. Workday’s architecture has given us the flexibility to easily add a new company and configure business processes in significantly less time.

How has Workday impacted the financial close process?

When I started at CustomInk in 2010, I was tasked with trimming the financial close process from 25-30 days down to 5-7 days. I was able to do it but knew we could not maintain this with our existing systems and expected growth plans. With Workday, we’ve been able to easily maintain the five-day close. We are now working on automating our financial reporting and in six months, I bet we might be down to a three-day close.

In what ways is your finance team using insights and analytics to support the business?

With Workday, Worktags and reporting capabilities enable us to access levels of detail about accounts that we couldn’t before. We are able to dig into our bottom line and expenses to understand spend and where there could be potential savings. Before Workday, if we wanted to do a detailed analysis of an account we had to go to a filing room and go through invoices and hard files—now we just run a report to see what each cost center is spending.

The more information we give our managers, the more they want, which is great for us. Our next phase with Workday is thinking through what specific information our managers want and need, whether it’s real-time headcount or expense report information, and then roll out management dashboards to them containing this data.

What are some of the regulatory and compliance challenges that come with growth, and how has Workday helped?

As we have expanded into new markets, Workday has taken the burden off of us for regulatory changes such as tax regulations for payroll. It’s also made the year-end financial audit much easier and less time-consuming. Previously, we would have to write detailed memos outlining business processes step-by–step for auditors. Now, we can print off a one-page view of the business process flow. It includes who has access and why, changes that have been made, and who made them and when. It’s really helped us from a controls perspective and saves us so much time.

Read more on how midsized companies are leveraging Workday to tackle business challenges and goals.