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March 13, 2024

Now I know: Client-turned-consultant on Workday implementation

For organizations planning a Workday implementation, here's the need-to-know advice from a client turned consultant on implementation steps.

Prior to joining Cognizant’s Workday practice, I worked as a Senior HRIS Analyst for a client who embarked on a Workday implementation. Now, with experience from both sides, I can easily point out implementation steps that have streamlined the process greatly.

Steps to a better Workday implementation process

If I could do it all over again, here are the things I’d do to improve the implementation process:

1.    Get the right people involved

There’s more to Workday than just helping HR and financial folks do their jobs. The reality is that the platform will be utilized by and will interact with many functional areas within your organization, so don’t leave those people or departments out. The input of those who use the data downstream will be just as important as those who do the day-to-day tasks in Workday. To achieve a seamless implementation, each person should be assigned a role on the project team (dedicated project team member, subject matter expert, stakeholder, etc.) and expectations on how much participation is needed to ensure a successful implementation should be established from the beginning. This will allow team members to be available when needed and ensure deadlines aren’t delayed. Getting everyone involved from the beginning will enable the team to make the right decisions up front and reduce the amount of time reworking the system to fit the needs of every part of the organization.

2.    Know your data

We’ve all heard the phrase “garbage in, garbage out,” right? This line of thinking is definitely true for an implementation. The system will only be as good as the data that is stored in it, so it’s important to know your company’s data to make decisions on how best to utilize Workday. Think about the data in terms of the fields it will be housed in, the business processes it will be a part of, the third-party systems that will use it, and the reporting needs of the organization. Take the time to clean the data in the legacy system prior to loading it into Workday. Not only will this make the data loading process smoother, it will save time by reducing errors or rework in Workday.

3.    Understand your existing and desired business processes

Workday is a process-driven system. Do the research prior to implementation to understand and document your current processes—noting their successes and their challenges—and to identify additional processes that are needed. This information will then easily transfer into the business process framework.

4.    Identify the systems Workday will talk to

Workday is not an island. It will feed data to multiple internal and/or third-party systems and could have data fed back into it as well. It is critical to know all the data touch points and system exchanges that are required up front in to avoid surprises during the project. Integrations require technical knowledge as well as time to build and test. Adding additional integrations in the middle of the implementation could have serious impacts on the project timelines and the budget. Make sure also to consider any other system implementations planned for the organization and what their impacts may be on the implementation steps.

5.    Keep a decision log

Over the course of the implementation, hundreds—if not thousands—of decisions will be made. Some may be small and others will have major impacts on the operations. Keeping a log of all the decisions as they are made will help team remember weeks or even months later not only the decisions themselves but also the reasons why they were made. This log can also be used to bring a new person up to speed on the project, provide justification to stakeholders, and assist in training.

6.    Own the testing process

Testing is one of the most important phases of any implementation. It will be the first opportunity many users have to get their hands on the new system and see what it can do for them. Testing should involve more than just the core project team members, thus allowing the core team to learn how to support the system as a part of the knowledge transfer process. (Remember, although your consultants will be there to support you during testing, the ultimate goal is for your core team to support your system post go-live without the help of external implementation consultants). Testers will be able to get comfortable in the system under safe conditions, take ownership in the system as they become part of the process, and increase acceptance by helping others during go-live. Also, the test scenarios you create can be utilized to train new users in the future, and the test plan can be reused to test the updates from Workday with each release.

7.    Keep your eye on the prize

When the project kicks off, your end users are eager to get started because they have been anticipating the benefits this new tool will have on their day-to-day activities. Each stage of the project has its own tasks and to-dos, which might leave your team feeling in the weeds. Don’t lose sight of the big picture— make sure you have a clear understanding of what implementing Workday will do for the business so you can measure against it.

8.    Celebrate milestones

Party! The project team will inevitably be working to their limits to help make the implementation steps successful. Over the course of the project there will be successes and challenges, strengths and weaknesses, efforts to balance different personalities, and much more. Taking a minute to celebrate milestones and show the team how much the organization appreciates their work will go a long way to keeping morale up and motivating everyone to push through to a successful go-live. Then the real celebration begins!

Cognizant Workday Practice
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