Over several years I’ve been involved in implementing Workday in many different environments and had to rescue a few poorly executed programmes too. I’ve learned a lot over that time.

Here are ten things, blindingly obvious now as a Workday consultant, that I wish I’d been aware of when I started.

1) Don’t try to eat an elephant

Workday offer a huge amount of functionality across their suite of Finance and HR tools. You need to know what’s essential to start with, and which additional functionality would add real value to the business. If necessary, you can plan further phases of work to add new functionality to the business.

And in every phase keep your processes lean and focused to ensure you deliver a great experience to your users.

2)  You can’t start data cleansing and migration into Workday early enough

Data migration is often the most neglected part of a Workday implementation. For some, it’s an administrative task and a necessary evil. But get it wrong or leave it too late and it will scupper an otherwise meticulously planned implementation plan. The process of migration can be made much easier when data is thoroughly cleansed to ensure it is consistent, complete and accurate.

3)  You do not need to be Workday experts

Workday is a tool designed to be intuitive and user-friendly. Your internal team need good Finance and HR knowledge, common sense, and a willingness to learn, work hard, and deliver to plan. Any specialised Workday knowledge can be provided by your systems integrator, and use your programme to upskill your internal team.

4)  Resource the Workday implementation adequately

You will almost certainly need more people, money and time than you think; much better to plan for it now and run the risk of over resourcing than find yourself scrabbling around for more people or budget when you realise you are falling behind plan and have to apologise to the CFO for messing up budgets and business plans.

No one ever got sacked for delivering before the deadline or under budget with fewer people than expected.

5)  Pay attention to the details

Small details can get lost in big programmes. Don’t let this happen. Consider the data, the processes, and other systems with which Workday needs to interface, and how they work together.

6) Choose the right methodology

You can deliver Workday with fast delivery methods, such as Launch, which compromise on the amount of functionality you Go Live with, or longer term approaches that result in a richer experience in the live solution.

You need to know what is right for your business. Don’t get distracted by the lower cost, fast approach if it’s going to result in a solution that needs more work immediately after Go Live and cost just as much in the medium term.

7) Don’t compromise on user experience

Way too many companies shy away from turning on functionality that allow users and managers to self-serve, resulting in Finance and HR having to administer processes.

Workday is designed to eliminate or accelerate processes, so turn on the solutions that allow employees and managers to self-serve

8)  Workday adoption doesn’t just happen

Workday is intuitive, but that does not mean it will be enthusiastically embraced by all staff. Well-designed processes help, but leadership support and carefully crafted communications that describe the benefits of Workday are essential.

The best time to drive adoption is when the system is first launched and when new features are added. Give people a good reason to keep visiting the system.

9)  Have a post Go Live plan

You need to support Workday after going live and be ready to take on two annual releases. Plan for support and release management.

You likely won’t have rolled out all you wanted in your Phase 1 and may want to add new Workday functionality later. Plan for it with a roadmap. Things will change in your business and Workday will need to be updated to reflect those new ways of working. Plan for change with contingency capacity built into your support model.

10)  Celebrate success

Delivering a Workday programme is hard work and can take a long time, but there are many opportunities to celebrate success along the way. Make time to recognise collective and individual achievements; it creates more cohesive teams, builds resilience and makes the process much more fun!


Good luck with your Workday implementation. If you think we can help get in touch at info@changeassociates.com.

Download our report, Delivering on the HRIS Promise here. 

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David Cruise