Do You Know the 6 Critical Steps that Ensure a Successful Workday Deployment?

Critical Steps for a Workday DeploymentThe papers have been signed and you’re ready to move forward with your Workday deployment. Or are you? Sure, you may not be working on the tech side of things, but there is still plenty to do to ensure the process moves smoothly.

Here are the six things you should keep in mind as you start the deployment phase.


A communication plan should be part of your upfront planning. It should go beyond just a timeline for sending out emails and putting posters on walls, and should be more strategic in nature.

Think about your internal customers and who you’ll be communicating to: It’s important to balance those in leadership positions with the information that needs to be shared and their interest in receiving it. For example, individuals who are in higher positions of leadership but have little interest in day-to-day operations are a key constituency that you want to keep informed. The individuals who are high in interest but low in leadership position are the ones that you want to keep satisfied. Those who are high in leadership positions and high in interest are the ones you want to manage closely. And you’ll simply want to monitor those who are low in power and have little interest.

Put the names of your stakeholders and constituents in a four-box quadrant, and use that type of strategic view to build your communication plan. It will make a huge difference, not only in the vehicles that you choose to use for your communication method, but in the frequency of how you communicate to them — and obviously who those individuals are.

Communications Quadrant

Scope and Business Needs

As you scope out the project and build your roadmap, be sure you’re collaborating with C-level executives and your stakeholders to understand what’s important to them, and what’s driving some of the decisions around timing and functionality. Certainly, don’t underestimate internal resourcing needs; a good deployment partner should be able to give you an appreciation for the different types of people you need to bring to the table. Keep their resource and existing time commitments in mind.

And think beyond go-live. What will your post-go-live support needs be, if any? Will current team members continue to stay engaged for some of the phase 2 or phase 3 activities?

Data Conversion

When you’re launching your project, understand where your information is today and start putting together a data strategy. Whether that’s legacy systems, payroll systems, offline access databases, Excel or something else, think about the state of that data. Think about who actually has the skill set and the capability to extract and pull that data and scrub it as necessary so it can be effectively migrated into the Workday system.


Pay attention to business events and other activities that are going on, like audits or major vacation times. A good example is financial services businesses. The second they go into October, into compensation planning mode, they go dark. Or retail businesses during the holiday season. Or between semesters at educational institutions. You need to accommodate times like that into the project plan because they are really going to suck the project team away from the Workday deployment.

Big Bang vs Phased Approach

“Big Bang” in a Workday deployment can mean different things, especially if you’re looking at it from a full platform perspective. We define it as a deployment where all features are rolled out at the same time, as opposed to phased in over time. Before you commit to one or the other, consider the functionality you’re choosing to roll out, and the people you’re choosing to impact as you build out your roadmap.

One of the things to think about as you decide whether you want to go for the Big Bang or do a phased deployment is what your organization can actually handle. One of my favorite quotes is from the former CIO of Cisco Systems, Brad Boston. I was doing a deployment with them about 10 years ago, and he basically said that his organization has more ideas than they can deploy, and they can deploy more ideas than the business can absorb.

Thinking about that type of dynamic and who your end audience is, and how much change they can actually embrace and value, should be a critical factor in the type of decisions you make as you define your roadmap.

Process Reengineering

A Workday deployment requires, in some cases, a wholesale change of how things are done. Sometimes that means simplifying operations, other times it means standardizing operations. But neither of those will happen if you don’t involve process stakeholders. Really take advantage of the new Workday solution, which will provide you with guardrails and direction, and will do so in a very prescriptive manner.

Now comes the fun part: Watching the plan come together. Having the right elements and strategy in place will make it a smoother deployment.

What questions do YOU have about Workday deployments? Let us know in the comments section below and we may answer them in a future blog post!

Commercial Solutions Leader, IBM Workday Consulting Services

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