A Guide to Mastering Workday Implementation

Unlock the full potential of Workday with our guide. From seamless implementation to optimization, elevate your business efficiency with expert insights.

By Lisa Selah

Workday stands out as a top-tier cloud-based software that specializes in applications for Financial Management, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and Human Capital Management (HCM). The platform seamlessly integrates multiple data systems such as finance, HR, planning, payroll, operations, and more into a unified suite of cloud operations.

Workday's versatile and customizable platform, coupled with user-friendly tools, revolutionizes workforce management for organizations spanning various industries. By unifying data across finance, workforce, and operations, Workday provides businesses with real-time insights to enhance decision-making, streamline operations, and boost employee engagement.

Workday implementation teams have the flexibility to deploy a wide range of Workday applications, from Human Capital Management (HCM) and Financial Management to Recruiting, Time Tracking, and Payroll. Whether you choose to roll out the full suite or focus on specific modules, creating a well-defined deployment plan with multiple phases tailored to your organization's needs is key to a successful implementation.

During the implementation process, transitioning from legacy systems to Workday involves developing business processes, creating organizational structures, and migrating critical data using the Enterprise Interface Builder (EIB). Workday's seamless business process flows enhance efficiency, providing transparent approval processes, designated security roles, and comprehensive audit trails.

To ensure a successful Workday implementation, organizations should follow key steps such as understanding the platform thoroughly, conducting assessments, engaging in design sessions, and rigorous testing. It's crucial to establish a competent implementation team, clean and validate migration data, and develop a robust communication strategy to support end-users throughout the implementation process.

Key Steps in Workday Implementation 

When it comes to a successful Workday implementation, there are several key steps that organizations should follow to ensure a smooth transition and maximize the benefits of the Workday system.

  • Ensure a thorough understanding of the Workday platform to guarantee its sustainability for future growth and organizational changes.
  • Conduct a comprehensive assessment of current processes slated for implementation in Workday and verify the platform's capacity to accommodate them.
  • Engage in design sessions to establish organizational structures, including job profiles, cost centers, locations, and security roles.
  • Carefully clean and validate migration data multiple times to ensure accuracy and completeness.
  • Conduct rigorous testing across various phases of business processes, employee data, and reports.
  • Develop a robust communication strategy and educational resources.
  • Select a competent implementation team, especially the implementation partner. For implementation assistance, seek references and gather feedback for assurance.
  • Establish a strong internal team of stakeholders with in-depth expertise in the business processes and functional areas being deployed. This can help ensure a successful implementation.

Assessment & Planning

Conducting a thorough needs analysis involves identifying the critical processes, data, and integrations necessary for migration. Data cleansing is crucial during this phase. It's important to explore where existing processes can be streamlined and be open to new possibilities. The next steps include gathering requirements, designing workflows, preparing data migration workbooks, and rigorously testing the migrated data, processes, and reporting.

Formulating a strategic implementation plan is essential for a successful transition to Workday. The executive sponsor should advocate for the platform to the leadership team. Develop a comprehensive communication plan for the go-live phase, tailored to different groups such as employees, managers, operations, finance, and HR. Additionally, create job aids and learning resources to support end-users throughout the implementation process.

Data Management: Migration & Integration

Implementing best practices for seamless data migration is crucial for a successful transition to Workday. Begin by meticulously scrubbing data to ensure accuracy and completeness, collaborating with data 'owners' to establish a data remediation process. Utilize multiple test phases during the rollout to maintain the freshness of data and understand the proper housing and formatting of migration data. Initiate data cleansing promptly to set a strong foundation for integration with existing systems.

To ensure a smooth integration with current systems, it is imperative to identify the necessary integrations to support business processes. Pay special attention to integrations with external systems such as ADP, Benefits Providers, and Learning Platforms. Align the required integration formats from third-party systems to avoid potential failures and establish robust integration notifications to proactively address any errors that may arise.

Training & Change Management

Create a comprehensive training program for employees by leveraging the existing learning platform to design Workday-specific courses for end users. Develop a detailed catalog of job aids for employees and ensure easy access through a centralized location like the company intranet. Host company-wide learning sessions and meetings to discuss the new platform and its impacts on daily operations, fostering a culture of continuous learning and adaptation.

Navigating organizational transformation during the implementation of Workday is essential. Comprehensive documentation plays a pivotal role in this process, ensuring that all changes are well-documented and understood. Regular planning sessions are also crucial to continuously reviewing and refining business processes, ensuring alignment with the organization's evolving needs.

Testing & Quality Assurance

Implement a comprehensive testing strategy by conducting parallel, unit, and end-to-end testing in a phased approach. Develop detailed test scripts tailored to each business process and align security roles with each step. Engage testers who hold relevant security roles for their functional area, such as HRP, Manager, Comp Partner, etc. Document each testing phase meticulously for efficient tracking.

Ensure the Workday platform's quality and reliability by conducting frequent audit reviews throughout the implementation phase. Thoroughly test all processes and integrations to pinpoint any gaps or errors and address them proactively.

Go-Live & Post-Implementation Support

Implement a robust communication strategy for stakeholders and end-users, accompanied by comprehensive documentation. Anticipate and prepare for any potential issues, with a contingency plan in place to address functional gaps and operational errors. Establish a structured process for issue resolution and receiving feedback from end-users, whether through a ticketing system or a designated email channel.

Continuously monitor the platform for updates to essential processes and new releases. Conduct a thorough post-implementation review of the platform to pinpoint any issues and reassess process design. Additionally, create customized reporting portfolios as required.

Essential Considerations for Successful Workday Deployment 

Embrace and welcome change throughout the implementation process. Foster a strong partnership with your Implementation partner. Clearly communicate business objectives down to the smallest details for optimal results. Build a team of stakeholders with a solid understanding of existing processes and a readiness to innovate when needed. Leverage Workday ambassadors across different levels of management. Remember, the accuracy of migration data is crucial!

How Long Does a Workday Implementation Take? 

There are several factors that influence the timeframe of a Workday implementation, such as the company's size, global or domestic employee base, the number of modules being implemented, and the scope of data being migrated. From personal experience, I have been involved in implementations ranging from 4 months (not ideal) to up to a year. For a smoother transition, it is advisable to allocate 8-18 months for implementing Workday.

Common Challenges in Workday Implementation

Failing to conduct a thorough assessment of Business Processes to align with Workday functionality can result in unfavorable outcomes. It is imperative to verify that the Workday platform can meet the desired outcomes before proceeding with configurations. Rushing through the implementation process to meet a go-live deadline should be avoided at all costs. Taking the necessary time to build and extensively test processes beforehand is crucial, as rectifying issues once implementation is underway can be quite challenging. Additionally, overlooking the user experience during platform configuration may discourage users from utilizing the new and valuable Human Management System (HMS), leading to a wasted investment.

A comprehensive rollout plan for go-live, including job aids, reference guides, and communication to managers, human resource or finance partners, and employees, is essential for a smooth transition to the new platform. Keeping thorough documentation of the platform configuration is vital, as it helps in identifying any missteps for correction. Implementing multiple modules simultaneously can present challenges, hence it is recommended to adopt a phased approach, starting with essential modules like Core Human Capital Management (HCM) and Payroll, refining processes and data before gradually incorporating additional modules over time. For example, in a past implementation, Core HCM was rolled out initially, followed by payroll, and year-end processes such as performance evaluations, merit increases, and bonuses. Subsequently, recruiting and benefits modules were introduced in the following year.

Workday Adaptive Planning

In the context of Workday implementation, Workday Adaptive Planning and Workday ERP form a crucial foundation, offering advanced tools for financial and operational planning. The integration of a Digital Adoption Platform enhances this process, facilitating smoother user interaction with Workday software and thereby ensuring a successful implementation. This strategic combination ensures that the full spectrum of Workday services and solutions is leveraged effectively, aligning with the overarching goals of the implementation project to optimize business processes and drive organizational success.

How ALKU Can Help

ALKU can help with implementation through our network of experienced Workday Consultants who bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table. With a proven track record of successful Workday HCM and Finance implementations, ALKU's network of consultants is well-equipped to guide organizations through the entire implementation process, from assessment and planning to post-implementation support.

By partnering with ALKU, your business can benefit from personalized guidance and support tailored to your specific needs and requirements. The ALKU Workday HCM and Finance teams work closely with clients to ensure a thorough understanding of your business processes and goals, helping to align ALKU's Workday experts with your unique requirements.

For more from ALKU, find out how to use Workday.


About Lisa Selah

Lisa Selah, SHRM-CP is an accomplished HR Business Analyst with 20 years of Human Resources experience spanning various industries from Electronics, Insurance, Pharmaceuticals, and Finance, to name a few. Her current role as a Workday Business Analyst with ALKU incorporates her vast knowledge of Workday disciplines in support of implementations, Operational Excellence, and Reporting & Analytics initiatives globallyShe has completed advanced training courses in Organization Management, Core HCM, Reporting & Analytics, and Performance Management via Workday Academy to keep up with Workday’s rapidly changing platformShe refers to Workday as the ‘Apple’ of Human Capital Management systems and is a strong advocate for adaptation.

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