The Wdata capabilities within the Workiva platform is designed with simplicity in mind. It gives users the flexibility of storing required data in tables, building queries without requiring SQL skills, and outputting the results into a Workiva spreadsheet where it can be used for downstream reports.
So what is Wdata?
Let’s start by what it isn’t. Wdata isn’t a database, data mart, or data store. It is an application that can consume and store large datasets, query those datasets, and then use the output in down-line, auditable reports required by the business. Learn more about Wdata here, and get an introduction here.
When does IT need to be involved?
IT will need to get involved when a connection between a source system and Wdata is desired. IT is responsible for building and maintaining the connection within the Wdata chains environment. IT is also responsible for creating the chain (a series of commands to create a process) for getting data from the source system into Wdata. Wdata chains can be used to schedule and automate a variety of processes and tasks within the Workiva environment. Here is an overview of connectors. Here is a more in depth overview of Wdata chains.
Does the IT work need to be completed before the rest of the project can proceed?
While not a requirement, it is considered a best practice to have the connection work completed early. However, connection development can move forward concurrently with the build portion of the project. The connection development can take place after the remaining portion of the project is complete, but there is a risk of causing unnecessary rework within Wdata and downstream.
Where is the Wdata chains environment, and how is it accessed?
The Wdata chains environment lives within Wdata itself. It requires that the IT or technical resource have workspace owner access.
To access the chain builder, log in to Wdesk, and then click “Wdata” in the left menu. A new page will open allowing you to click “Chains” in the left menu. Finally, click the “Build Chains” button in the center of the screen to launch the chain builder.
Create a Chain
Before you Begin: Prerequisites and team assembly
To build chains, the following team members may be required: Workiva administrator, source system administrator, network engineer, and infrastructure engineer. Complete the following before starting step 1.
- Understand source system API and/or integration method. Obtain necessary permissions and create an integration user if required. Contact source system vendor for assistance if needed.
- Review Wdata Connectors.
- Complete the Wdata chain build course.
- Review all sections within Intro to Wdata, Tables, and Chains.
- Review Connections you will use.
- Optional—Review developer documentation for the Wdata API.
Step 1: CloudRunner/GroundRunner
The first step to building a chain is to determine if the source system being connected is cloud-based or on-premises. For cloud-based and systems accessible over the internet, chains can use the CloudRunner agent to execute. For on-premises systems or those not accessible over the internet, chains will need to use a GroundRunner agent to execute.
Step 2: Whitelist hosts and emails
To ensure that chain processes and GroundRunners can communicate to the necessary endpoints, whitelisting may need to be applied within your network. All whitelisting can be found here.
Step 3: Workiva integration user and OAuth2 Grant
Workiva recommends creating Workiva platform user(s) dedicated to integrations. Information on how to create integration users is here. Add read/write permissions for the user to the specific Wdata table in use. Table permission information is here.
Using the integration user or your own username for testing, create an OAuth2 Grant. The client ID and client secret from the grant will be used to authenticate with Workiva APIs. Here is information on how to create an OAuth2 Grant. It is very important to remember the grant’s expiration date as the grant will auto delete on that date. Optional: Here is developer documentation for authentication.
Step 4: Configure a Workiva connection
Within the chain builder, click on “Connections” in the left menu. Here is information for configuring the Workiva connection using the client ID and client secret from the previous step. Additionally, the GroundRunner from step 1 can be selected if in use. Repeat this step to create a connection for the source system as well. If the source system connector is disabled, please work with your Org Security Admin to enable it by following the instructions here.
Step 5: Chain builder
Within the chain builder, click on “Build” in the left menu. Start building a new chain by clicking the “Create Chain” button in the lower right corner. Complete documentation of all chain connections and commands is here. You may need to reach out to the source system provider for their system’s documentation. Here are some step-by-step instructions for example chains.
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