FinServ attended this year’s Workday Rising to understand how the Workday product is expanding and to keep up to date on the latest Workday trends. The conference was packed with knowledge sharing among customers, demos of new features by Workday experts, and speeches presented by Workday leadership on the future of Workday. The theme of this year’s conference was Go Further Together, and boasted the largest attendance of the conference to date, 8,500+ attendees. 

From the conference there were several key takeaways, some of which we believe clients can benefit from immediately, like the new Review Framework. There were also some promising trends that we will continue to watch as they mature, such as Prism Analytics and Benchmarking. Overall, Workday Rising was a great event and highlighted some key Workday trends that we have been discussing with our clients:

1.  The Workday Cloud Platform - What's Ahead

Feature Summary: With the upcoming semiannual Workday 30 release (March 2018), partners and customers can build extensions on the platform to manage business applications on the Workday Cloud Platform.  

FinServ’s Recommendation: It’s not actionable until the Workday 30 release but this could have a major impact on how clients leverage the Workday platform.    

Perhaps the biggest announcement of the conference was that Workday is now opening up its Cloud Platform so partners and customers can build extensions and new applications on the platform. As co-founder Annel Bhusri explained, this new chapter is aligned with Workday’s “Power of One” mantra. All of Workday’s 1,800+ customers are on the same platform. Since its inception, Workday sought to eliminate the common fractured legacy enterprise applications found in the industry.  

 The goal of opening up the platform is to provide customers with the tools to design and manage business applications in the Workday cloud. This is very similar to how Salesforce has opened up its platform. As an experienced Salesforce partner, we know firsthand how this was a real game changer for the CRM platform. We believe that opening the Workday platform will have a similar effect for Workday as it did with Salesforce. This added functionality will greatly enhance Workday’s customers’ ability to use the platform in ways they hadn’t imagined possible. Workday cited various use cases, including integrating a security badge system, a peer-to-peer feedback system for an agile development team, and even Workday’s own mobile alert system to ensure safety among Workday employees in the event of an emergency.  

For now, the platform is only open to Workday implementation partners. At the time of the conference there were already 80 software partners and 30 services partners investing in bringing their innovations into the Workday platform. It will be accessible to all users with the Workday 30 semiannual release in 2018.

2. Workday Analytics - Prism Analytics and Benchmarking

Feature Summary: Prism Analytics allows customers to bring in external data to build reports in Workday. Workday Benchmarking provides Workday customers with insights on how a customer compares against other Workday customers.  

 FinServ’s Recommendation: For now, we advise clients to wait and see how this functionality matures. It’s unclear how useful benchmarking data will be for clients and we have not yet seen any clients in the Financial Services space use Prism Analytics. We are also skeptical of Workday’s description of Prism Analytics as a “self-service functionality,” requiring no technical expertise.  

 Released in Workday 29, Workday Prism allows customers to combine Workday and non-Workday data to create decision-making metrics. The ability to combine Workday data with external data allows business leaders to get a better sense for where the company is currently so that they can better plan for the future. For instance, using Prism Analytics, a customer can build reports that associate employee data with sales data to attain a more accurate picture of both the workforce and sales earnings.  

This should be a feature to keep an eye on, as numbers on performance have not yet been published. At the conference we were told that figures would be made public in the coming months.  Prism Analytics is meant to be a self-service functionality and we were advised that customers need not have technical expertise in order to use Prism Analytics, However, Workday Reporting can quickly get complicated with building out calculated fields and setting up the security permissions. Incorporating external data using Prism Analytics will bring an added layer of complexity to the process. We anticipate that Workday Prism Analytics will require a good deal of technical expertise. A developer may not be necessary to create the reports, but a HR generalist should not be expected to build them. Regardless, without published data on how customers are using it, it’s difficult to assess the value of this functionality.  

 Also available with Workday 29, Workday Benchmarking leverages Workday’s customer base to provide business insights. Customers can opt-in to provide secure and de-identified data, which would in turn produce benchmarks that can be leveraged to drive informed decisions. Benchmarks include workforce composition, headcount turnover, management metrics and Workday usage. 

 Similar to Prism Analytics, the Benchmarking functionality sounds enticing but it’s not clear if customers will be comfortable enough to opt-in to this feature, or if the data collected will provide any useful metrics. The demonstration did not provide any figures on the number of customers who have opted in since the release with Workday 29. We will be curious to see if Financial Services customers opt into the feature. Our clients tend to be very sensitive about their data—we don’t imagine Workday will have many Financial Services customers participate. 

3. Request Framework - Better Workday Governance

Feature Summary: Through an approval process, the Request Framework allows customers to request changes to components of the tenant, including those related to business processes and security.  

FinServ’s Recommendation: This is a framework we highly recommend clients start utilizing. It’s a great way for clients to monitor the security and governance of their tenant. Admittedly, the feature does have some limitations (it does not currently support ad hoc approvals); however, it is a feature that customers should become more accustomed with using.  

 Unlike Prism and Benchmarking, the Request Framework is a feature we would encourage customers to take advantage of now. The Request Framework is intended to assist with the governance of Workday. Security administrators now have the ability to make requests within Workday that flow through an approval routing. This should make approvals for changes smoother and requests from Internal Audit easier as well. The Request Framework replaces the need for a ticketing system or the inconvenient chain of back and forth emails often used to request and approve a change. As part of the Framework, there are a few Workday system-generated reports delivered to administrators, allowing them to see what requests have been made and where the request exists in the approval process.  

 The unveiling was a sign that Workday has been listening to its customers. There was a packed audience who had many questions at the end of presentation. It was clear that the framework still has a way to go before it can be heavily relied upon. The presenters did not have great answers to the questions asked. For instance, when inquired about the option of ad-hoc routing for approvals, no timeline was provided for when this functionality would be available.  

 4. Surveys - Improvements

Feature Summary: Customers will soon be able to use campaigns to issue surveys and schedule a survey through a distribution framework. 

FinServ’s Recommendation: We recommend clients re-examine the survey functionality once the enhancements have been rolled out. With the new updates we believe customers will now be able to leverage this feature to engage their workforce.     

A common topic among HR leaders is the desire to poll their workforce. More recently, we’ve used Workday’s survey functionality to obtain feedback from new hires on the newly implemented Workday Onboarding functionality. However, using Workday to survey employees has its limitations. For instance, surveys are not connected to a business process and are only sent through a notification in the Workday tenant. While the feature is limited, we still encourage clients to explore the functionality because there are some advantages. First and foremost, by using Workday’s survey functionality, companies are able to store and report on the data all within a single platform. Secondly, by using Workday’s survey feature, employees are enabled to become familiar with the Workday ecosystem. We often hear from clients that employees are not knowledgeable of the system so they’ll come to HR with simple requests like updating their addresses. Utilizing the survey functionality allows firms to train employees to become more comfortable with Workday. ln the coming months, users will be able to issue a survey using a campaign and a scheduled distribution framework. With a campaign, the survey will be more visible to employees, displaying directly on their dashboard instead of sitting in the less commonly used notification folder. This is a major improvement for the survey functionality.  

FinServ Consulting advises clients on Workday HCM and Financials implementations, Phase 2 Functionality rollouts and platform maintenance. FinServ has experienced HR and Finance consultants that have worked with clients on vendor selections and implementations of various HR and Finance platforms.  For more information on Workday or for general HR and Finance platform inquiries, please contact info@finservconsulting.com

About FinServ Consulting

FinServ Consulting is an independent experienced provider of business consulting, systems development, and integration services to alternative asset managers, global banks and their service providers. Founded in 2005, FinServ delivers customized world-class business and IT consulting services for the front, middle and back office, providing managers with optimal and first-class operating environments to support all investment styles and future asset growth. The FinServ team brings a wealth of experience from working with the largest and most complex asset management firms and global banks in the world.

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