5 Lessons I’ve Learned from Working on Full Platform Workday Deployments

move-forwardAs the saying goes, two is better than one. And that’s definitely true when you’re talking about Workday deployments. Why just deploy HCM when you can also deploy Financial Management and operate with a complete picture of your company?

The benefits of a Full Platform deployment are many. For example, all your data is in one place, and it’s updated in real time. That’s a big win. You don’t have to wait for an integration to run, then to update your finance system with your employee records, and then run your payroll on the other system to import it into your finance system. You can align your people and financial performance, keep your workforce engaged and supported and embrace change across the enterprise.  It’s all in one.

When launching a Full Platform deployment, there is much to consider. And hindsight is always 20/20. So here are some of the lessons I’ve learned from working on these deployments.

1. You have to decide: Big Bang or Phased Approach. Not your services partner.

You have two options for a Full Platform Workday deployment: Go with a Big Bang (i.e., all at once) or a phased approach. Your services or deployment partner will make recommendations and advise you about which one might be better, but ultimately, the decision will come down to what your organization can handle. For example, a big bang deployment means more work upfront, and a need for more comprehensive change management. But on the other hand, you can flip the switch when you’re done and everybody will be operating on the same system. What’s more, you also get the ability to determine ROI sooner because you can turn off all the other systems at once and just focus on one.

That said, a phased approach is good for those situations when HR or finance want to get used to one system prior to making a complete changeover — perhaps because one department is coming into a busy period (such as the close of the year or open enrollment) and the other is more available. This approach can be good for the organization because once people adopt and start using the system, and they’re excited, it helps with the deployment of the other side of the house. You can continue the excitement as you roll out Financials or HCM as a second phase. Also, a phased approach is often easier on the organization because both teams aren’t working long hours on the deployment at the same time.

In my experience, it used to be that HCM was often selected first with Financials added later. But more recently, we’re seeing Financials being deployed standalone or before HCM. Which plan is best for you? Ultimately, that’s for your organization to decide.

2. Knowing your organizational profile is key.

Many companies choose to deploy Workday because they’re growing quickly — either organically or through acquisition. If that’s you, it’s important to ask: Are you going to continue in growth mode, and did you choose Workday because it’s easy to integrate acquired companies and connect with many other systems? If you have a disjointed system, even for a short time, you can still bring data into Workday relatively easily.

Also, make sure change management is addressed up front. How will your organization change? Really consider what will change from end to end, who will be affected, how you are going to successfully engage the organization to embrace the change and how you’re going to work within the needs of the organization.

3. Unification saves time and money.

In a Full Platform deployment, when focusing on the Financial Data Model, it’s critical for HR and IT to sit down with the finance team early on in the process to understand what analytics they need to inform the business and what their current reporting requirements are. . For example, what are the KPIs today, what will they be in five years, what other insights are important to the business and how can the foundation of the system be set up now so it can deliver that reporting?

The good news is that because Full Platform is a unified platform, many of the same elements are going to cross over to the HCM and payroll sides of the world. But make sure you’re capturing the costs of employees properly so it flows to the Financial Statements in the correct way. Work with human resources to assign employees to cost centers, supervisory organizations (management reporting), companies, regions, and so on so you can take advantage of this reporting.

Similarly, when it comes to integrations, you can save time and costs by leveraging the same integrations — especially when it comes to connections with banks. If you’re integrating your system with a bank, many times you can use the same integration for employee disbursements or employee payroll, expense reimbursements and suppliers/vendor reimbursements across HCM and Financials.

And on a related note, Workday’s Professional Services Automation software further brings together HCM, Payroll and Financials. Time Tracking feeds Payroll, which is something HR managers use to understand how much time people are working. With a Full Platform deployment, people are going to log time to specific projects, and these projects are going to drive the revenue and billing for your organization. So you’ll have the people side (logging their time in Workday) connected with the financial side (creating your invoices and making sure that flow works nicely). Testing everything end to end then becomes that much more important because it begins with the employee and ends with some kind of business transaction, like an invoice or an expense report.

4. Worktags are important.

Worktags are Workday’s break from the old Chart of Account structure. This is the dimensionality inside Workday that allows you to report on financial and operational metrics without cluttering your Chart of Accounts. When doing a Full Platform deployment, you want to confirm the accounting within Payroll before you bring it into the new system. Make sure you take into consideration how worktags are set up, and understand how it’s all going to flow if information is being pushed out to any other third party. It’s also important to make sure that the integrations are working properly so you get operational reporting and financial reporting.

5. Someone needs to be in charge of project management.

Finally, with a Full Platform deployment, there will typically be a bigger core team. You’ll have anywhere from 4–15 people on each side of the house, depending on the size of your organization. The smallest team I’ve seen for a Full Platform deployment is six, and the largest is 35 or 40. But really, it depends on the size of the organization and how much staff you can dedicate to the cause.

Regardless, I can’t overstate the need for a dedicated project manager. Don’t underestimate the need to have someone stay on top of the overall project and your internal team, to make sure all the moving parts are doing what they should and deadlines are being met along the way. Bringing in a third-party project manager can help with resource constraints, or a third party can help with data conversion. That would be in addition to your deployment partner.

Looking back on Full Platform deployments always results in good learnings for future deployments. But the one thing I’ve learned most of all is that deploying HCM and Financials in a unified system sets up the organization to realize success sooner and for a longer time moving forward.

Workday Solutions & Delivery Leader, Financials, IBM Workday Consulting Services

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