What Matters in a Workday Financials Implementation Partner?

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By Ross Garrett (Managing Partner)

Every day I see companies spend a great deal of money and time agonizing over choosing a new financial system that will fit their business. After exhaustive effort they select a system and believe they are out of the woods. That attitude could not be more dangerous. The most important decision that they will make is who they choose as their implementation partner. Specifically, I work primarily with Workday Financials and I see this mistake play out over and over.

Workday Financials is an increasingly popular solution for moving your finance department to the cloud. Workday leverages a unified platform building upon its world leading HR software to offer value to its customers. Workday is already implementing to be the system of record for a member of the Fortune 500. Given this track record of success isn’t choosing the vendor or another technology oriented implementation partner a no brainer?

The best way to answer this question is with a thought experiment. Think about a relatively simple program like Microsoft Word (simple when compared to something like Workday). In your business some users can automate all the mailings they send, they can use VBA to fully automate the routine filling out of forms, and ultimately these users can get Microsoft Word to be a powerful document production system. Now, think about your average user. This person has difficulty at times getting things to format and print correctly. They are likely unaware that VBA even exists. They use Microsoft Word simply to write and print things, and they do this in a very manual process of opening up a blank document each time, likely hardly even leveraging templates and advanced document formatting. So what is the point? The point is that despite the fact that Microsoft Word clearly has every bell and whistle related to writing a document you might need, the important point is that most business users will never use any of those features.

For Workday this means that it really does not matter if you pick a partner who can set up 5% of the technical features better. For the most part because Workday is cloud based and all customers are on a single version most of the truly technical solutions are not very different. What is different are the business processes that you build inside the system to support your very unique needs. That means the most important thing you should think about is which partner can help your users actually understand and use all of the great functionality that Workday brings.

I have seen a number of companies say that they did not think about the ways that Workday integrates with Microsoft Excel that could have driven automation until far after their go live. I have seen countless companies only focus on the accounting department in the implementation so that managers and executives never view Workday as a real time reporting tool that they should care about. I have seen many companies say they just wanted to get anything up and running and they would worry about getting it running well later. The sad truth for these companies is that implementations can be done that drive automation, business transformation, and get the system up and running quickly.

The biggest risk to a Workday implementation is that companies decide that going live is more important than investing in the truly transformational opportunity a solution like Workday brings. A new system is the perfect opportunity to change your business and help future proof through the best finance practices. In order to achieve this you should not be looking for a systems implementer, but you should be looking for a business transformation partner who specializes in Workday.

Workday can be a transformational technology, but everyone understands that the promise of that transformation can only be achieved if users put it into action every day. So as you think about your Workday Financials implementation partner ask yourself how many times you’ve seen brilliant technology or solutions sit on the shelf because the end user just did not get it. A technology implementation of a cloud solution requires technical acumen, but history is filled with examples of technologies that could check every feature box but never caught on because it just did not connect with users.

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